Building and Embedding Competency Frameworks
Characteristics of a Well-Designed Competency Framework
Whether you have a competency framework, or are looking to create a new one, there are a number of characteristics that represent what ‘good looks like’. To help you determine the extent to which your framework is aligned to best practice principles we would suggest considering your answers to the questions below:
- Does the framework align to your organisation’s vision and strategy?
Competency frameworks need to adapt and change as organisational strategy shifts. Too often competency frameworks are not reviewed or validated to ensure alignment.
- Is the framework structure aligned to your needs?
This includes evaluating whether the number of competency levels is sufficient and if particular competencies are only relevant for certain roles or levels.
- Is the framework content clear and accessible?
The language in the framework needs to be simple, observable and in a language that individuals can relate to.
If your answers to the questions above leave you unsure, your competency framework is more than two years old, or you have recently had a significant shift in organisational strategy, it is recommended that you progress a review to ensure you are driving the right behaviours to achieve objectives.
Our ‘Competency Framework Best Practice Guide’ will help you with your review:
The SHL 4-stage process to competency framework design is a tried and tested methodology that brings together best practice rigour and our latest contextual research that links behaviours and performance in context.
Stage 1 – Visioning
This stage includes:
- Desk research to gain deep understanding of your business including a review of key documentation; annual reports, people strategy, company vision and values, and any existing behavioural frameworks
- Senior stakeholder interviews, or workshop, to discuss current and future organisational strategy to ensure the behavioural framework aligns to desired outcomes
This step includes the use of our challenge taxonomy and helps identify which of the 27 challenges reflect your organisation’s desired outcomes. Our research then allows us to identify which behavioural competencies align to these desired outcomes.
Stage 3 – Creating
- The insight gained in the previous stage is then analysed and structured into a draft framework, which includes competency labels, descriptors and behavioural statements. Behavioural statements are typically ‘levelled’
- The framework then progresses through a review process with your project team, with a final presentation to sign this off
Stage 2 – Engaging
This stage is critical to the acceptance of the framework and involves engaging and gathering insight from a representation of individuals from across business levels, functions and, if applicable, regions.
The depth of sampling will be determined in partnership with you, and typically involves workshops and individual sessions using expert, consultant-led ‘Job Analysis’ techniques to draw out critical behaviours.
Stage 4 – Embedding
Once created it is then essential to leverage the framework. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Creating supporting documentation, e.g. an overview of the framework design methodology and a user guide
- Working the framework into critical people processes; e.g. performance management – supporting the ‘how’ of performance management, Recruitment – creating a levelled interview guide with rating scales mirroring the behaviours in the framework