Framing and measuring competencies
Tuesday, August 30, 2016 12:25:48 PM

Every job requires individuals to possess a defined set of competencies so that they can do justice to it. The interesting part of the term, competency, is that it puts emphasis on what a person can learn rather than what a person can do. Competencies with their behavioral indicators allow for the projection of appropriate skills and behavior while incorporating self-knowledge, motivation, and a desire to show effective performance.

With new and diversified challenges coming into play, a major shift in human resource management practices is now steadily visible. The competitive advantage acquired through the introduction of new products, technology, and information system is ephemeral. Nowadays, employee skills and their contribution matter, as it has a direct impact on an organization’s people and performance. In order to adopt an organized approach towards the changing human resource management, it is essential for organizations to have a structured and uniform competency framework.

A competency framework is a comprehensive structure that explains different competencies with its definite set of behavioral indicators and measurement criteria. A majority of organizations have their unique set of competency frameworks, which are aligned to their visions and missions, as well as long- and short-term organizational goals.

Some of the major aspects that need to be considered in developing a competency framework are:

  • The description should be clear to do away with any ambiguity
  • The language must be comprehensible by multitude of people
  • The structure should be logical and simple
  • The framework should be relevant for all the people being affected by it
  • The framework should also include unanticipated changes having the potential to impact organizational transactions. This implies that it should distinctly trace the manner in which employees are to perform in the immediate or mid-term future.
  • The repetition or duplication of behavior in the framework must not exist

Whether organizations intend to develop the competency framework from scratch or expand their existing framework to make it more useful, it would be of great help to take the following points into consideration.

  • Involve people while building the framework. It will increase the participation rate and bring a sense of ownership
  • Explain people the reasons and objectives behind the development of the framework and keep them updated on all the developments
  • Identify and form the competencies that are suitable to the organization

It is also essential for an organization to have a competency-based assessment, once it has built a well-defined competency framework. Such an assessment will provide the objective evaluation of an employee’s performance.

Types of competency assessments

Some of the common types of competency assessments are as follows:

  1. Self-assessment

It allows individuals to evaluate themselves against behavioral indicators, behavioral anchors, or work outputs. If an organization completes its job-specific competency models, an individual will be able to choose from a library of assessments.


  1. Manager assessment

It’s the evaluation of the report coming directly from managers. These results are helpful in framing specific individual development plans and allotting current and future work assignments. The plus point about this assessment is that it requires minimal or nil administrative effort and can be done quickly.


  1. 360-degree assessments

360-degree assessment gathers data in a full circle around an individual and is sometimes also called as a full-circle assessment. The assessment is based on either a general or job-specific competency model. It has turned to be a widely used and well-accepted measure of competency, as it is easier to develop as compared to skill tests, certifications etc.

  1. 180-degree Assessment

180-Degree assessment gathers data in a half circle around an individual. The assessment requires the individual to self-rate them using competencies as estimated by behavioral indicators or work outputs, an immediate supervisor ad subordinates are also invited to rate their competencies. It takes less time and administrative effort as compared to 360-degree assessment but there also exists a risk of leaving out an important perspective.


  1. Certifications

Organizations ask the subject matter experts and supervisors to verify the competencies by providing them the proper verification tools. In the initial step desired learning outcomes are defined where learners are required to understand some specific terminologies, identify different components or know the reporting requirements. When the learners are prepared to be evaluated the observers watch and assess the performance with the help of pre-developed rating sheet.


Competency framework and assessment provides a comprehensive picture of the skill map of the organization, its potential future leaders and the development needs which acts as a guide for taking an effective approach towards talent management.