Interrogating the competency framework as an assessment tool

What is a Competency Framework

The word Competency has become almost like a cliché in many work places, but do we really understand what competency is or how to measure it? Does your organisation have a competency framework which guides you in your performance assessment of employees? Setting up a competency framework helps you set up clear expectations in this regard. The Competency framework varies from organisation and nature of business you are pursuing. However I would like to share with you a Competency Framework of an organisation with international outlook.

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The competency framework sets out how you want people in the organisation to work in pursuit of personal and organisational goals. In some organisations the framework puts the values of honesty, integrity, impartiality and objectivity at the heart of everything they do. Further it aligns to the three high level leadership behaviours that every employee needs to model in order to deliver excellent services: Set direction, engage people and develop capability, and deliver results.

Defining Competency

Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours that lead to successful performance. A proper framework must outline the number of competencies that your organisation value and would measure at the end of the performance cycle. For each competency there is a description of what it means in practice and some examples of effective behaviours. These indicators of behaviour are not designed to be comprehensive, but provide a clear sense of and greater understanding and consistency about what is expected from individuals in the particular organisation.

In this installment I will explore a couple of Competencies and try to provide a brief summary of each of them. I will group these competencies in clusters they appear in a template that I have designed for purposes of my training programmes. I will only give one or two examples in each cluster

Strategic Cluster – Setting Direction

Seeing the big picture is about having an in-depth understanding and knowledge of your own work and how your role fits with and supports broader organisational objectives and the wider public needs. For all staff, it is about focusing your contribution on the activities which will deliver the greatest value. At senior levels, it is about scanning the context and taking account of wider impacts to develop long term strategies that maximise opportunities to add value to the client and support economic, sustainable growth.

Changing and Improving

People who are effective in this area are responsive, innovative and seek out opportunities to create effective change. For all staff, it’s about being open to change, suggesting ideas for improvements to the way things are done, and working in ‘smarter’, more focused ways. At senior levels, this is about creating and contributing to a culture of innovation and allowing people to consider and take managed risks. Doing this well means continuously seeking out ways to improve and building a leaner, more flexible and responsive team. It also means making use of new technologies and cutting edge, market driven approaches where relevant.
People cluster – Engaging people
Leading and Communicating:
At all levels, effectiveness in this area is about leading from the front and communicating with clarity, conviction and enthusiasm. It’s about supporting principles of fairness of opportunity for all and a dedication to a diverse range of citizens. At senior levels, it is about establishing a strong direction and a persuasive future vision; managing and engaging with people with honesty and integrity, and upholding the reputation of the Organisation.
Collaborating and Partnering
People skilled in this area create and maintain positive and professional working relationships with a wide range of people within and outside the organisation to help get business done. At all levels, it requires working effectively and building supportive, responsive relationships with colleagues and stakeholders. At senior levels, it’s about delivering business objectives through creating an inclusive environment, encouraging collaboration and building effective partnerships.
Performance cluster – Delivering results
Achieving commercial outcomes:
Being effective in this area is about maintaining an economic, long-term focus in all activities. For all, it’s about having a commercial, financial and sustainable mindset to ensure all activities and services are delivering added value and working to stimulate economic growth. At senior levels, it’s about identifying economic, market and customer issues and using these to promote innovative business models, commercial partnerships and agreements to deliver greatest value; and ensuring tight financial and commercial controls of resources and contracts to meet strategic priorities.
Delivering value for money
Delivering value for money involves the efficient, effective and economic use of taxpayers’ money in the delivery of public services. For all staff, it means seeking out and implementing solutions which achieve the best mix of quality and effectiveness for the least outlay. People who do this well base their decisions on evidenced information and follow agreed processes and policies, challenging these appropriately where they appear to prevent best value for money. At senior levels, effective people embed a culture of value for money within their area/function. They work collaboratively across boundaries to ensure that the Foreign and local Office maximises its strategic outcomes within the resources available.
I could have gone into another cluster but space cannot allow. Please note this is not exhaustive but it certainly would give you some understanding of how you can go about setting your organisational Competency framework.
Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development at the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on lead.inst.dev@gmail.com, mandeyarobert@gmail.com.

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