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Why Use a Competency Framework?

10 Reasons for Using a Competency Framework

“New frameworks are like climbing a mountain – the larger view encompasses rather than rejects the more restrictive view”

– Albert Einstein

Frameworks can be incredibly useful. They structure planning and development. But there are a lot of frameworks out there, so why use a competency framework in particular? If you’re like most of our clients, you likely don’t yet have a competency framework in place. Most organizations have a set of values or other guiding principles. These can include mission and vision statements, outlines of corporate culture, or department- and team-specific rules. Competency frameworks are a little different, and they can be beneficial for a variety of reasons.

Unlike the guiding philosophy of mission, vision, and value statements, competency frameworks tend to be more skills-based. They map out tangible requirements for leaders to meet in order to thrive in a particular position. That means you can benefit from a competency framework – even if your organization has other models in place.

Not quite convinced? Here are ten other reasons why your company should consider implementing a competency framework:  

1 They provide a common language

Using a competency framework creates a common language for discussing performance and success. Standardizing nomenclature prevents people from using multiple words for the same task or behavior, and it allows for more systematic definition, evaluation, and development of skills.

2 They give a shared understanding of success

Aside from language, competency frameworks can be used to establish a shared understanding of the underlying skills, abilities, and knowledge needed for success. This is important for organizations as a whole looking to define behaviors and values that align with the organizational culture, as well as for particular departments, teams, or positions looking to clarify characteristics of success. Having a competency framework ensures that leaders, incumbents, and applicants are all on the same page, and understand what is required to succeed in the context in which they work.

3 They enhance communication and teamwork

Because competency frameworks provide a common language and set of expectations for success, they can enhance organizational communication and collective effectiveness. It also prevents miscommunication, which can help teams work better together and improve performance at large.

4 They allow for systematic development of leadership skills

Competency frameworks allow coaches and candidates to focus on specific leadership skills rather than broad ideas. This allows leaders to systematically work on improving those skills with tools such as stretch assignments, on-the-job training, or formal education targeting specific competencies.

5 They allow progress to be measured

Competency frameworks are often accompanied by an assessment. These assessments allow candidates to identify their strengths and development opportunities based on scores on each competency. They also allow for progress to be measured. Individuals can better understand their strengths and development opportunities in SIGMA’s competency model using the Leadership Skills Profile – Revised (LSP-R), and progress towards their development goals can be measured using SIGMARadius 360 Degree Feedback.

6 They provide an objective foundation for selection and promotion

In addition to structuring employee development, competency frameworks can be used as an objective foundation for selection and promotion. Candidates can be evaluated based on strengths and development opportunities, and the best match can be selected based on competencies required to succeed in that role.

7 They reduce bias and promote diversity

When competency frameworks are task-based and objective, they reduce the effects of similarity bias (conscious or subconscious preference for those who are similar to us). Using a competency framework can therefore help prevent factors like gender, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, or personality and shared experiences from influencing hiring and promotion. As such, implementing a robust competency framework can serve to foster inclusion and promote diversity.

8 They are easily scalable and transferable

Using a structured competency framework allows training and development to be easily scaled and transferred across the organization. Rather than selecting new competencies, choosing new assessments, and drafting new development activities, the same robust framework can be used across departments. In this way, competency frameworks can be used to build a strong, organization-wide leadership pipeline.

9 They improve employee morale and job satisfaction

Studies have shown that more than 1 in 3 employees are committed to their company because they see an opportunity to be a part of its growth.[i] Succession planning has also been found to have a significant impact on improving job satisfaction.[ii] This data demonstrates that active talent development (i.e., proper succession planning) can improve employee morale and retention. And to get started on a strong succession plan, organizations first need to implement a strong competency framework. SIGMA can help you get started.

10 They have countless opportunities for application

Competency frameworks can be applied in a variety of ways. They can support decisions around hiring and promotion. They are also valuable in a number of HR processes, such as performance evaluation. They can be used in succession planning and leadership development. To learn more about how your team can apply SIGMA’s competency model, check out our succession planning, coaching and training, and assessment services.

Looking for More?

If you’re looking for support to implement a competency framework, SIGMA can help! Our competency model can be customized to meet your needs. Visit our website to learn how you can use our framework today. We also offer mapping services (i.e., mapping your framework or an existing framework onto SIGMA’s 50 leadership competencies) which allows you to apply our services and assessments to your own models. If you would like to speak directly with one of our consultants, you can also contact us below! We’re always happy to speak with you.

[i] K. Zanfardino. (2020). How Your Succession Plan Can Improve Your Retention and Company Culture. Insperity. Retrieved from https://www.insperity.com/blog/how-your-succession-plan-can-improve-your-retention-and-company-culture/.

[ii] Maragia, Samuel. (2013). Effects of Succession Planning Programs on Staff Retention. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences.. 4. 157 – 162. 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n6p157.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.