What Exactly is a Competency Framework?

Competence can be described as the ability to do something successfully. Likewise, a competent worker is someone who is qualified for a specific role because of their skills, knowledge and attributes which allows them to work safely and efficiently.

As a manager, you are responsible for ensuring your workers are fully competent before they begin their role. Building a competency framework for your organisation can help you do the following:

  • Recruit and select new staff more effectively.
  • Evaluate performance more effectively.
  • Identify skill and training gaps more efficiently.
  • Effectively manage serious health and safety risks.
  • Increase organisational performance and success.

But what is a ‘Competency Framework’ you keep reading about?

A competency framework is a model that lays out the blueprint for successful performance in an organisation. Typically, each role in the workplace will have its own set of competencies (i.e. required qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience) that workers must have.

Let’s look at an example using a Forklift Operator. In order to operate a forklift, the individual must have a Forklift Operator Certificate by undergoing specific training, and have a strong understanding of hazard and risk management. If the forklift drives onto a road, the operator must also have an ‘F’ endorsement drivers license. These are just several of the competencies that may be required under this role.

Further examples where safety competence must be specific are:

  • Electrical work
  • Scaffolding
  • Hazardous material
  • Machine guarding
  • Other as designated by your own worksite hazard assessment and industry standards (more).

The starting point of building a competency framework is identifying the roles in your organisation, followed by the development of job descriptions and competency profiles for each role. A complete and effective framework needs to be linked to the goals of the organisation. Developing competencies shows workers the types of behaviours and skills the organisation values and which it requires to help them achieve its objectives.

Why do organisations need one?

An organisation that neglects to define an expected standard of performance and competencies may find themselves facing many adversities. Below are a few reasons why competency frameworks are essential:

  • The most obvious reason an organisation requires a competency framework is to create a safe working environment for everyone. Without defining the competencies of a role, your organisation and workers will be at risk as a result of recruiting staff who are unfit and unqualified to perform safely and successfully in their role.
  • In the case of a workplace incident or event, you may also be required to prove that you done everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to ensure a worker was fully competent before commencing their role. Thus, a competency framework provides evidence that you ensured a worker has met the competency requirements outlined in the framework.
  • Not only are the frameworks useful for proving due diligence, but it allows you to measure existing competency levels to make sure your workers have the relevant expertise needed to add value to the business. You can also benchmark against a competency framework to identify any skill or training gaps, and develop a tailored training programme for the worker to help bridge these shortfalls.

On the whole, you should never underestimate the importance of developing and implementing a competency framework. Although it is comprehensive process, the increased level of understanding the link between individual roles and organisational safety and performance will prove to be well worth it.

Click here to access our Short Guide to Developing a Competency Framework. We can also work alongside you to help develop a comprehensive framework. You can contact us by filling in our online contact form or call us on 04 499 0710.

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