Beginners Guide to Competency Models: Benefits and Examples

Competency models are a tool that helps human resource departments plan the talent management and employee performance management processes.

Unlike employee job descriptions that may only have skills necessary for a job, competency models will list the behaviours necessary to succeed at the job, what success looks like and how it will be measured, what training needs to be done to empower employees to achieve this success and so much more.

The competency for a particular job may look like this:

  • Name of the competency
  • How the competency is defined
  • Skills required
  • Behaviours an employee needs to exhibit
  • Proficiency standards at a career stage (that could be early, mid-level or senior level)

A more detailed example could look like this:

  • Name of the competency-Team work
  • How the competency is defined-Treating colleagues from all backgrounds with respect and consideration
  • Skills required-Communication skills
  • Behaviours an employee needs to exhibit-Addressing and solving conflicts equitably
  • Proficiency standards-Identify team concerns and present solutions

Types of competency models

Competency models vary from one industry to the next and are guided by the needs and goals of a specific business. The education or training, background and the skills necessary for a specific position will also come into play when designing one.

For instance, the competence in communication skills required of a mid-level employee will differ from those required of a senior level employee. That being said, there are some aspects that can be replicated across industries. Here are a few examples of competency models.

Core competency model

Core competencies are the basic skills that people working in a particular organisation need to have in order to succeed. In this model, core competencies are made clear to employees very early on. It is the role of managers to ensure that employees have these skills.

If they do not then they will be trained. An example is staff having a competence in proprietary software that the business uses to work. It can also be in communication skills as this is a competence everyone needs to have. Inability to attain a core competence may mean one isn’t suited to work for a particular business.

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Job competency model

As indicated by the title, this competency model is all about the skills needed to do a specific job. The job competency model includes skill sets that are specifically needed within a job or role.

In some businesses, these may be technical skills that an employee needs to have in order to excel at their job. Some examples of these can be project management skills or knowledge of programming languages needed in website development.

Leadership competency model

What do you need from leaders in your business? This competency model answers that question. Key skills from leaders may include mentoring, empathy and business acumen. In addition, a leader should be able to ensure that other competencies (core and job competencies) are implemented by other employees.

Custom competency models

Because organisations are not the same, you may wish to create a unique model that fits your needs. Industry standards dictate certain building blocks needed to create a competence model. These are:

  1. Gathering background information on skills and processes
  2. Developing a draft competency model
  3. Having experts interrogate your draft model
  4. Analysing feedback received and making necessary changes
  5. Testing the model with users
  6. Implementing the model

Benefits of competency models

Competency models can deliver the following benefits to businesses that use them.

They streamline the recruitment process

Competency models help to gather data that will help in creating job descriptions for new hires. A clear job description will help an organisation attract the right candidates and help those in charge filter those they should interview and ultimately hire.

Amongst the ways competency models make recruitment more efficient is by making a distinction between which skills are essential and those which are seen as only desirable. This saves time during the recruitment process.

Competency models ease performance management

Because success is clearly defined, it is easier to measure employees’ output. Managers will be able to track who is on course, who isn’t and how far off course they are from achieving set targets.

Competency models can also be used as a good tool to reward employees. This is because it is clear who has excelled and who has not. During performance reviews, both the employee and employer have a clear results to match against targets.

They connect job roles to organisational goals

The effort that employees put in on a daily, monthly and yearly basis is all so that an organisation can achieve a certain goal. A competency model will help Human resources to clearly connect every role to the overarching organisational goal.

They will have a map that shows what the organisation needs to achieve and the skills needed to help them get there. In this way, people with the right skills will be hired.

They help HR to identify training needs

Competency models help managers make an audit of the skills in the organisation versus the skills needed to achieve strategic goals. This will show who needs to be trained and in what areas. In the same way, managers can easily identify skills gaps amongst employees and create a training strategy to help employees excel.

They aid in succession planning

Competency models will identify skills needs for employees at all levels of the organisation. For this reason, both managers and employees can see a clear path from their current role to a future position and the skills they need to attain in order to get them there.

In Summary

It is customary to build a graphic for each competency model so that those using it can follow it with ease. Competency models make the hiring process and talent management easier and less costly for those in the human resources department. They also help employees have a clear understanding of the skills they need to have in order to succeed at their jobs.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.