Competency Frameworks

by Julia Miller


What is the difference that makes the difference in day-to-day performance? What is it that the high performers are doing?

The development of competency frameworks helps you to

  • Identify, analyse and model those behaviours that these role models and high performers demonstrate day after day, and which make the difference in terms of their levels of achievement
  • Give clear objectives to your staff for them to work towards and clarity of expectations of their own performance, based on these behaviours
  • Map your own progression towards becoming a high performer by developing those behaviours.

Competency frameworks help your organisation to

  • Link its HR strategy and performance management systems to the values and objectives of the organisation
  • Promote best practice throughout the organisation
  • Develop a common language and shared outcomes.

Why are they of value?

Well designed competencies help you as a manager to

  • Think about which behaviours add most value and help your business to be effective
  • Focus clearly on those aspects of employee performance you want to concentrate on developing
  • Identify the behaviours that characterise your top performers and that others can model and adopt.

The next few pages will take you through understanding what a competency is; we will show how you can identify some of the key competencies that your star performers demonstrate and explain how to turn their behaviours into a practical competency framework for use throughout your organisation.


There are some words used throughout the topic which it is helpful for you to understand. The Examples page also gives you examples of each of these definitions.

Competency cluster

A collection of closely-related competencies, often within a competency domain

Competency domain

A group of competencies

Competency framework

This is how all the competencies you might want to create within your organisation are organised to form a unifying structure.

Competency level

Competency frameworks often cover several levels of job and these levels are reflected within the structure.

Core or generic competency

This is usually a business-wide competency, one which all managers or leaders should demonstrate, regardless of their department or job function.