Human Resources

Establishing a Competency-Based Management Framework

Core competencies define what professionals need to know and are able to do to provide quality care and education. Program directors may use this resource to guide them in improving the skill levels of management and front-line staff. The core competencies can provide a framework of the knowledge and skills that staff need to perform their jobs. This framework can be applied to all staff positions.

Competencies have been defined in a variety of ways but most models include the elements of knowledge, abilities, skills, personal characteristics, behaviors, and/or qualities that are linked to organizational objectives and are key to producing results. For the purposes of establishing a competency-based framework, a competency profile for each position should be defined as:

The knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors that an employee applies in performing his/her work and that are the key employee-related levels for achieving results that are relevant to the organization's business strategies.

One common element shared by all accepted definitions is the direct and inter-dependent relationship between work and worker. This can be summed up in the following equation:

Work to be Performed (what) + Performance of Worker (how) = Results that Add Value to the Organization

There are, however, two aspects in which competencies can be said to differ from qualifications:

  1. New in the competency approach is its linking of competencies to the strategic objectives and capabilities of the organization.
  2. Second, competencies can be used to track performance in all human resource areas, including training, development, performance management, and succession planning, not simply resourcing. However, they do not have to be applied in all these areas at the same time, nor has this been the practice in most organizations, even top-performing ones. In fact, most have started out by first applying CBM in training and development initiatives and human resource planning. Only when employees become familiar with the use of competencies to guide training and development activities have organizations introduced CBM in performance assessment.

Establishing a Framework for Competency-Based Management (CBM)

CBM is the application of a set of competencies to the management of human resources to achieve both excellence in performance and results that are relevant to the organization's business strategies. It means identifying how performance links to business results and mapping out strategies to export the techniques throughout the work force. It also means giving employees a systematic approach to expanding and using their full capabilities.

Competency Defined

"Any skills, knowledge, values, attitudes, personal attributes, or distinguishing qualities and motives (or intent) as demonstrated through behaviors which contribute to successful performance of work." (Interdepartmental Committee on Competency-Based Management, Government of Canada)

"Those characteristics of an individual which underlie performance or behavior at work." (L.W. Slivinski and J. Miles, Wholistic Competency Profile, Public Service Commission of Canada)

"Any knowledge, ability, skill, or personal quality demonstrated through behavior that results in service excellence." (Human Resources Development Canada)

"An underlying characteristic of an employee which results in effective and/or superior performance in a job." (R.E. Boyatzis, 1982)

"A personal capability that is critical to the production of a quality (job) output." (P.A. McLagan, 1990)

"...the human characteristics (that) are associated with job success." (D.C. McClelland, 1993)

"A combination of observable employee applied knowledge, skills, and behaviors that creates competitive advantage for an organization." (Watson Wyatt Consultants)

For examples of competencies for managers, select here. For more on using CMB when hiring, select here.

Source: Public Service of Canada/Human Resources Management