Uncomplicating competencies

What gets measured, gets done. That’s great, but can you measure the “how” as well as the “what”?

How we work is as important as what we achieve. Whilst it is difficult to measure how we work in the traditional sense, we can use competencies to measure the behaviours that bring about individual and organisational success. Using competencies in support of an organisation’s vision and core values can help achieve strategic objectives by bringing them off the page and into our daily conversations, building a picture of how we work; that is, the “how” as well as the “what”.

What is a competency?

A competency is a measurable characteristic that is related to effective job performance. It is a collection of related skills, behaviours and attitudes and other personal characteristics working in concert to produce effective job performance. Defining competencies creates a common language about what effective job performance looks like. Using them in a competency framework provides line managers and employees with a structured guide to identify, feedback, measure and develop the competencies that will work towards individual and organisational success.

What is a competency framework?

A competency framework provides explicit definitions of what skills, behaviours and attitudes will be expected, valued and rewarded in an organisation. Using these definitions and considering the frequency at the same time builds a full picture of effective performance and provides objectivity to recruitment decisions, performance management discussions, training and development investments, pay review and promotion decisions and succession planning. On a daily basis, a competency framework helps line managers and employees give feedback about individual and team performance using a common language.

Building on the axiom, what gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, and, what gets rewarded gets repeated (John E Jones). Repeated effective performance facilitates individual and organisational success. Competencies help you measure effective performance, feedback on it and make the reward decisions that will make sure it is repeated.