What Competencies Do Today’s Youth Need?

May 11, 2024 thehrobserver-hrobserver-competences

Commencement caps fly high, a celebratory farewell to late nights and textbooks. As graduates, we believe this marks the end of studious pursuits, a naive assumption shattered by the realities of the professional world.

Entering the workforce, many fresh graduates encounter a surprising truth: universities haven’t fully equipped them for the specific skills and competencies needed to thrive in corporate life, to not just survive, but to meaningfully contribute to the organisation’s goals.

This is where HR teams and line managers step in, grappling with the challenge of bridging the gap between raw talent and impactful performance. Competency frameworks emerge as a powerful tool for navigating this terrain. But what exactly are they, and why are they so crucial? How are they developed? 

Let’s delve deeper!

A competency framework is essentially a blueprint that outlines the knowledge, skills, and abilities that employees need to be successful in their roles to contribute to the organisation’s overall success. It serves as a shared language, ensuring everyone has a clear understanding of what stands between them and achieving high performance.

A competency framework comprises the technical and behavioral competencies necessary to successful perform a job. Job-Specific (Technical) Competencies are the skills and knowledge that are specifically relevant to a particular job or role. These competencies are often aligned with the strategic direction of the organisation and tailored to the requirements of a specific position and may include technical skills, industry knowledge, and task-specific abilities. While behavioral competencies are fundamental skills and attributes that are essential across various roles most organisation. These may include communication skills, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability.

Competency frameworks offer a multitude of benefits for organisations, including:

  • Improved Talent Management: By defining the competencies required for different roles, organisations can develop targeted recruitment, training, and development programs. This ensures they attract and retain the right talent with the skills needed to achieve excellence in performance and quality across the organisation’s value chain.
  • Performance Clarity: A competency framework sets clear expectations for employees at all levels. This transparency fosters accountability and motivates individuals to develop the competencies needed for success.
  • Strategic Alignment: Competencies can be cascaded down from organisational objectives to individual roles, ensuring everyone’s efforts are aligned towards achieving a shared vision.
  • Effective Communication: A common language around competencies facilitates better communication between managers and employees. Performance discussions become more focused and objective, leading to improved and customized development planning.
  • Fair and Consistent Evaluation: Competency frameworks provide a standardized basis for performance appraisals. This promotes fairness and consistency in evaluation processes and minimizes bias and subjective personal opinions.

Building a Competency Framework is a step-by-step process that ensures a strong foundation. Here’s what it entails:

  1. Taking Stock: We begin by thoroughly examining the organisation’s current state. This includes reviewing the strategic plan, organisational structure, job descriptions, procedures manuals, policies, and relevant government directives.
  2. Identifying Internal Needs: To understand the skills necessary for success, we gather input through questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups with key stakeholders.
  3. Benchmarking Against the Best: We then conduct research to understand external competency requirements. This involves comparing our needs with industry peers, competitors, and best practices.
  4. Bridging the Gaps: Any discrepancies between internal needs and external benchmarks are identified. These gaps could be due to a lack of internal skills, policies, or government regulations.
  5. Mapping Competencies: We then categorize jobs into families and grades. Each grade/family is assigned a level of competency, with clear descriptions of proficiency levels for each competency.
  6. Documenting the Framework: Finally, we compile and document a Technical & Behavioral Competencies Matrix for easy reference.

Developing a competency framework is just the first step.

To reap the maximum benefits, organisations need to implement it effectively taking into considerations involving the right stakeholders, aligning competencies across different levels and departments, ensuring everyone understands how their role contributes to the overall strategy, embedding the competency framework into talent management practices, including recruitment, performance management, and training and development.

But most importantly regularly communicating and promoting the framework to employees and ensure they understand its purpose and application.

In essence, a well-designed and implemented competency framework acts as a bridge, connecting individual potential with organisational success.

Agnes Mouawad

Management Consultant, Vanguards Consulting

Related Posts