Competency’ is generally defined as the behaviours that employees must have, or must acquire, to input into a situation in order to achieve high levels of performance, (the how), while ‘competence’ relates to a system of minimum standards or is demonstrated by performance and outputs (the what).The use of competency frameworks is intended to provide employees with a clearly-defined set of objectives and managers with a consistent measurement tool that could be used across geographical, cultural and work boundaries.Most frameworks are in the form of a matrix of descriptors and levels. Typically, competency frameworks contain a mix of behaviours, functional skills and knowledge, but care should be taken that only measurable components are included. It is important to restrict the number and complexity of competencies, typically aiming for no more than 12 for any particular role, and arranging them into clusters to make the framework more accessible to the users. The framework should contain definitions and/or examples of each competency.It is also important that the competency framework is a good fit with the rest of the organisation and reflects its mission statement. Experience has shown that employee involvement is the single most important factor in the introduction of competency frameworks.Examples of some of the most widely used competency headings include:

  • Communication
  • Management of people
  • Leadership
  • Customer or client focus
  • Team-work
  • Creativity and judgment
  • Delivery of results
  • Strategic thinking and planning; organising
  • Management of financial and other resources; business awareness.

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