Friday, 26 April 2013

Key Decisions in Designing a Competency-based Talent Management Framework: Some Basic Definitions

Part 1 of 7 of the CompetencyCoreTM Guide to Designing a Competency-based Talent Management Framework

By Ian Wayne and Suzanne Simpson, PhD, C. Psych.

This is the first in a seven part series that looks at key decisions in designing and implementing a competency-based talent management (CbTM) framework:
  1. Some Basic Definitions
  2. Defining the Goals and Evaluating the Impact of your Initiative
  3. Competency Structure and Types
  4. Importance of Defining your Competency Architecture
  5. Developing Job Competency Profiles
  6. Project and Change Management
  7. Key Decisions in Selecting a Software System
Many organizations understand that there can be huge benefits to implementing a competency-based approach to acquiring and managing talent, but often don’t know where to start.  This blog series is devoted to guiding readers through a sequence of key decisions and considerations before launching into the design and implementation of your competency framework.  It is based on over three decades of work gathering best practices and lessons learned from organizations that have gone through this process.

Competency-based Talent Management Defined

competency framework
Different organizations define competencies differently. Using the CompetencyCore definition, “competency” is a term that describes a pattern or cluster of actions taken to achieve a result. Competencies demonstrate the following key features:
  • They describe the abilities, skills, knowledge, motivations or other traits required in the job
  • They are required for effective or successful performance of the job or task
  • They are defined in terms of observable behaviors, and therefore can be assessed or measured.
competency framework
Competency-based talent management is an approach for managing talent that defines the competencies required for organizational success, and provides a framework for ensuring employees are hired, developed, promoted and generally managed according to these competencies.

Why Competency-based Talent Management?

Competencies translate the strategic vision, values and goals for the organization into behaviors or actions employees must display for the organization to be successful.

The iceberg analogy helps demonstrate the value of having a comprehensive picture of all the competencies needed for success within jobs.  While one can see the iceberg in the ocean, the majority of its bulk is hidden under water.


The whole “iceberg” represents the competencies needed for success in jobs.  However, some factors (above the surface) are typically easier to identify and manage - for example, the skills, knowledge and experience of employees.  Traits, motivations and self-concept, on the other hand, tend to be harder to identify and measure (below the surface).  Skills, knowledge and experience are often the focus during hiring and selection; but, the other factors (below the surface), which are more intrinsic and difficult to identify and measure, are just as important for successful performance.  Competencies provide a way of describing all success factors in terms of behaviors.  These can then be measured and managed in the workplace.

This remainder of this series:
  • Looks at the importance of defining the goals and desired impact of your Competency-based Talent Management initiative;
  • Explores more fully the different types and structure of competencies;
  • Discusses the importance of having a well-defined Competency Architecture as the blue-print for designing and implementing a competency-based talent management initiative;
  • Describes the steps and process for developing job competency profiles / models; and,
  • Addresses important questions related to change management, communications, project management and governance.

The next blog in this series explores the importance of defining key goals and success criteria for your competency initiative. Sign up to our blog’s mailing list through the form on the right-hand side to receive the rest of the series in your inbox.

HRSG is a leader in Competency-based Talent Management solutions. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.



Want to learn more? Competency-based Talent Management, or CbTM, is the best practice for defining job requirements and building effective HR programs to develop skilled, engaged and productive workforces. Download this Best Practice Guide to learn how competencies can increase workforce effectiveness and improve business practices.

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