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Competency Matrices


I am setting up a competency matrix for the technical disciplines in
organisation and would welcome any advice, practical guidance on
that people have found to be effective.

Clare Bury

4 Responses

  1. Some advice
    Hi there

    In my experience, competencies should drive success in the job and should therefore permeate evrything from recruitment, to assessment of work and to future goals. It’s unclear from your query about the reason that you want to introduce competencies so I hope that these tips add value:

    – competencies often concentrate on skills and knowledge but to work effectively, should also reflect behaviour & attitude (linking into organisational cultural values)

    -competencies should have levels that reflect either increments within a grade or movements between status i.e. probationer, trainee, junior senior, technical levels etc

    – competencies should be split into ‘key’ competencies (the ones that are assessed on a regular basis i.e. monthly) and ‘supporting’ competencies – ones that are important but are assessed infrequently or on an ad hoc basis

    I could go on for ever but hope that helps for now.

  2. Approach to developing a competency framework

    We rolled out a new competency framework over the winter. Here is the approach we used to develop it.

    Established a steering group of 10 key senior management people, which included our CEO. Their role was to provide direction to the work, review findings, give feedback and sign off on work. This was important to gain buy-in.

    The research phases consisted of many interviews (1-1 or group) with a reprsentative sample of staff from across our firm (all departments and grades) to understand what they do in their roles; what skills, knowledge, qualifications are required; when something went well, why was that; when something did not go well, why was that; etc. We tailored these questions a bit depending on who we were talking to. For example, if we were speaking to senior people, we also asked questions about future of the firm and their role in that. We also made sure to speak with people who were known to be excellent performers.

    The key themes from these discussions became the firm-wide competencies. The external consultancy we worked with then developed the detail underneath.

    At the same time as developing our competency framework, we also overhauled our appraisal process.

    We did a ‘light pilot’ whereby we introduced a draft copy of the framework to staff via focus group discussions. This was to understand how they understood the framework. We made a few tweaks after these focus groups.

    The rollout workshops were mandatory for everyone. An invitation from our COO helped in this regard. The workshops focused on the new competency framework and appraisal process because the two are interlinked. Workshops for managers, directors and partners also focused on the skills used when conducting appraisal discussions.

    Looking back, what worked well in this project was:

    * The steering group (buy-in from senior management!)
    * Introducing a process from the beginning where people have to use the framework, i.e. our revised appraisal process. This helps to embed the competency framework into the way of doing things. (Linking a competency framework to recruitment is another good method to embed a competency framework because recruitment is an on-going activity.)
    * Working with an external consultancy that are experts in designing competency frameworks. We worked side-by-side with them to ensure a transfer of skills into our firm so that we can update it ourselves.
    * A simple,logical appraisal process that reduced the number of appraisal forms people had to complete.
    * Mandatory training (which also focused on the skills people needed to use these processes effectively).

    If you have further questions, please contact me on [email protected].

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards,

    Barbara Babcock

  3. Competency matrix
    You don’t say what precise field is covered by your technical people; if you want to avoid re-inventing the wheel you may find it useful to contact Skills for Business: (
    There are a number of Sector Skills Councils whose job it is to devise National Occupational Standards for all walks of working life ; you may find that the job has already been done for you!

  4. library and knowledge base for designing your own 360°
    A colleague of mine has develope a 360° tool called MyReflections with the aspiration that it becomes the “Easyjet of 360°s”

    I attended a presentation that he made on June 30th in Geneva and discovered that this tool offers the capacity to design one’s own 360°. The questionnaire (which can be done electronically using a web interface, or hard copies filled with pen & paper…an option seldom available anymore but which could be important for work in less-computer saturated contexts) can be designed either by selecting items from Synchronicity’s library of more than 40 skills and 1600 observable behaviors, or by using the company’s own 360° competency model. Feedback reports can be produced in any language. The price is very interesting: Mario suggests to charge the company 99 euro per participant.

    Have a look at the following Perhaps that would be a source of inspiration for your work?


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