‘If only I’d known before’ is a fun game to play—unless you’re a business leader. Then it’s just painful. Thinking about mistakes that could have been avoided is no fun.

That’s why organizations spend significant resources on developing and implementing competency frameworks. What is a competency framework? Basically, it is a combination of skills, behaviors, and strengths that help employees do their jobs well. Competency frameworks also serve as a communication tool to set expectations for performance assessment, management, and improvement.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to make competency frameworks work more efficiently:

Draft employee development plans around competencies: 

Defining competencies for various jobs in the organization is a mere starting point. It is imperative that employees have individual development plans that are curated according to their work style, job roles, and job functions.

Employee development plans should be supported with appropriate training interventions. It is important to distinguish between tool-oriented and skill-oriented training. Employees consider tool-oriented training a hygiene factor while skill-oriented training is perceived as a company’s investment in employees.

A significant effort in learning and development (L&D) functions is focused on facilitating tool-specific training. Effectively they are creating a workforce that is excellent at using tools but these training interventions do not move the needle on employee engagement. Organizations need to strike a balance between skill-based and tool-specific training.

Keep your competency framework relevant: 

The pace of organizational change has increased rapidly over the last few years, but the updating of employee competency requirements in some companies has lagged behind. In some cases, employees perform their jobs in ways that do not fully link to the organization’s future.

The reasons vary from insufficient investment in feedback, coaching, training and development. In my experience, I have seen that high-performing organizations update their competency framework every two-three years.

At Harappa, a lot of our clients have engaged us in either developing a competency framework or updating the existing framework for their organizations. One of the challenges clients had before working with Harappa was their inability to see a connection between learning programs and business KPIs. Working with Harappa Education, it has enabled them to measure:

  1. The behavioral impact of a course at the learner level using proprietary insights and reports
  2. Aligning the behavioral impact of every course to business KPIs

Sorabh Bajaj is Associate Director, Business & Innovation at Harappa Education.

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