Leadership is a core feature of business management and organizational growth. It involves the ability to drive a team toward a set goal. Leadership development programs train employees on the skills required for career progression into managerial positions, and usually, it fails for one reason or another. Why?
As a human resource professional, a competency framework is the best way to get effective results from any leadership development program. In this article, you’ll understand what a competency framework does and why it’s a good tool for successful HR activities.
A competency framework describes a model or structure that HR professionals and other organization leaders use to identify, analyze, and plan the skills the employees need to transition into specific roles. It functions almost like a checklist to confirm that an individual has the potential to thrive in a role.
Competency frameworks help HR professionals with employee training, hiring, and performance reviews. It also allows organizations to coordinate their general business strategies and provide clarity on desired behavior at different levels and positions.
A competency framework depends on the organization’s goals, values, objectives, job requirements, and career level. In simple words, the competency framework for a manager in a multinational company would differ significantly from that of a small business enterprise.
Therefore, each organization must develop its definition of a competency framework. To put it in context, a competency framework should have the following elements:
Company goals and values are the shared principles and beliefs that unite an organization and propel them to make the right decisions. HR professionals must develop and lay out a clear understanding of the company’s current state, the current leadership maturity of employees, and the future towards which the company is moving. This process would help identify capability gaps and provide accurate data that will guide the selection of necessary leadership competencies needed for employee development.
Some of these values may include respect for diversity, integrity, commitment, honesty, and professionalism. You can achieve this by having one-on-one conversations with individuals and teams or looking for opportunities to observe and gather necessary data.
Core competencies to the general combination of skills that are common to multiple roles in an organization. Some may refer to them as behavioral competencies. They describe observable attitudes associated with effective job performance and reflect how an individual applies their knowledge in specific roles.
Common examples of these competencies are communication skills, active listening, offering and receiving feedback, teamwork, accountability, knowledge sharing, and planning and organizing. All these are applicable in different positions in any organization and are therefore a necessary component of a competency framework.
Technical competencies describe the knowledge and skills peculiar to specific job categories. It could be purely managerial, like decision-making, driving and managing change, developing team culture, building and maintaining partnerships, and leading, motivating, and empowering others. It could also be something as technical as digital literacy, business savviness, or the ability to read, create, apply, process, and communicate complex data.
In this stage, data collected cuts across individual employees, teams, existing and potential leaders, and company goals. It is the most crucial step to ensure accurate results after integration and analysis to identify employee competency gaps.
At this stage, there is a clear indication of where employees are and where they need to be. Now, it’s time to determine how to fill those competency gaps, either through training or hiring new talents. This is the stage in leadership development programs to itemize all leadership competencies that future leaders need.
This means identifying the least acceptable performance level for any competency. It helps to direct the next course of action after a program or an activity tailored toward improving a competency.
Developing a competency framework is a process, not a one-time event. This implies that the overall determinant of the success of any framework is in the results based on business goals. If there are no noticeable achievements at the end of implementing the first version of a competency framework, then there’s a need to adjust and improve the framework. This leads us to the last step.
This is the final step in designing a competency framework. Because you’ve set performance standards across the organization, it’s easy to measure outcomes and score the effectiveness of your framework. Assessment and review should be done at least annually to keep up with changes and trends in the industry.
A competency framework impacts organizations, HR professionals, company leaders or managers, and employees. Some of its benefits are:
HR professionals are tasked with hiring new talents, conducting performance reviews, and creating employee learning and development programs. A typical approach to this would be to use general knowledge and resources to draft job descriptions, assess employee skills during reviews, and incorporate training. The inefficiency of these methods manifests when the company struggles to meet its goals, and there’s a continuous need for new people and training to bridge the gaps, which stalls progress and growth.
However, a critically-designed competency framework completely simplifies these processes for HR professionals. It increases success rates with HR projects and improves efficiency by helping them identify the right skills and training needs and recommend the best development programs.
Using a competency framework in leadership development programs increases the chances of measurable success based on personal and organizational development goals. That is, it makes it easy to reflect on the core skills acquired or developed in the program. This, in turn, increases employee productivity and overall drive to achieve company goals.
A competency framework also helps to identify top performers, reward them, and retain the right talents. Rewards and job assurance are natural morale boosters in any organization.
Creativity and innovation are measured by the current state of a company and its desired state for the future. A competency framework based on company visions prepares employees to take charge in their roles and directly make decisions that propel the company toward its vision. It also encourages actions like risk-taking and thinking outside the box for better results.
Succession planning describes the process and strategies adapted to pass on leadership roles within an organization. A change in staff hierarchy or personnel isn’t always smooth. But with a solid competency framework, transitioning or onboarding an employee into a new leadership role would be less bumpy, both for the company and the team working with the new managerial personnel.
As stated earlier, developing a competency framework strictly depends on the specific requirements of a company or an organization. Bridging the gaps between the need for excellent leadership and the reality of several failed leadership development programs requires a unique approach to training and development.
In summary, to design an effective competency framework for successful leadership development, consider the company’s core values, employee strengths and leadership maturity, certain soft skills, and specific technical knowledge. While these elements are crucial for the success of any framework, they are subject to change as a detailed framework materializes.
Want to ensure that your competency framework is put to good use and that you are continuously developing the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful? Schedule a demo with our experts to guide you in building the learning journey you aspire to achieve.