Many competence initiatives fall into one or other of 4 ‘instant fail’ categories:

  1. purely defensive reactions to regulatory pressure or because something went bang
  2. well-intentioned but bureaucratic systems that try to assess everything that moves
  3. ‘head office’ flavours of the month with unassessable one-line competency statements
  4. a narrow focus on technical competencies or on those at the sharp end while ignoring issues of behaviour and belief at all levels.

But well-planned, risk-based competence management can provide a powerful basis for change in the alignment between organisational behaviour and individual behaviour.  Identified organisational benefits include:

  • Management control over competence development
  • Improved speed of response on new projects
  • Reduction in time wasted justifying competence
  • Higher commercial rates for staff with proven competence
  • More effective attraction and recruitment
  • Progression and development ladders towards professionalism
  • Targeted training and more effective cost-benefit analysis
  • Reinforcement of company values and core business objectives
  • Long-term upgrade of organisational capability

Even in very small organisations, I have seen competence frameworks used as an effective catalyst for change in order to:

  • embed changes in strategic direction
  • highlight expected performance
  • build balanced teams
  • manage projects/services more effectively
  • provide a framework for staff development/training
  • create flexible but consistent job descriptions
  • derive targeted recruitment specifications