Competency Modelling

By: Robin McKay

Here at AssessSystems I receive calls daily from 'newbies' to employee profiling. These people usually open the conversation with, "we'd like to test a candidate." When I start to probe it becomes obvious the hiring manager has no selection system and really no idea of the competencies required to be successful in the job - did I say competencies?

Many organisations today are using competency modelling to link their HR processes however most hiring managers do not understand what a competency is or how to develop a model for employee selection and development, so here's a short 101 course in competency development.

What Is A Competency Model?

A Competency Model describes the competencies required to perform effectively in particular roles. This set of competencies is then used as standards against which to: -

Select new staff

Develop staff

Evaluate the on-going performance of staff in these roles.

Competency Models enable one set of standards to be applied across the full range of human resource processes. This provides a common language and understanding and a consistency when assessing individual performance whether for the purpose of selection, development or performance management.

Components of a Competency Framework

A competency framework consists of 3 main parts:-

Behavioural indicators


Competency clusters.

Behavioural Indicators:

These are examples of behaviours that would be observed when someone demonstrates competence. They are the building blocks of the competency framework. For example behavioural indicators for the competency "Teamwork Work and Collaboration" are:

Identifies when team members need support and provide it.

Shares knowledge and information willingly with others.

Collaborates effectively in meetings and informal interactions.

A Competency:

This is a set of behaviours, which demonstrates that a person has the abilities, knowledge, skills and personal attributes to do the job competently.

The best way to describe competencies is to use behavioural language that describes the actions needed to achieve the organisation's goals. For example the competency "Teamwork" is described as "Works with others to cooperatively accomplish objectives".

Competency Clusters:

These are individual competencies that are grouped into competency clusters. For example the competency "Teamwork" forms part of the competency cluster "Working With Others". Other competencies that would form part of this cluster are, "Influencing and Persuading", "Building Relationships", "Managing Others", etc.

Here is an example of a few of the behavioural indicators associated with the competency "Customer Service" which is part of the "Working With Others" competency cluster.

Customer Service

Recognising an understanding customers' needs and delivering in a manner that exceeds customers' expectations.

Behavioural Indicators

Listens to and values customers' needs, suggestions and feedback.

Develops and maintains positive, constructive relationships with customers

Exerts a high level of effort to meet customers' needs in a timely manner

AssessSystems has a Competency Library consisting of a comprehensive set of commonly used workplace competencies and behavioural indicators. The Library is used to develop specific competency models for all jobs within an organisation. The number of competencies in a specific model varies. Usually a competency model will consist of a set of 8 - 12 competencies per job role.

The AssessSystems Competency Library is organised into 5 main competency clusters.

Leading People

Achieving Results

Working with Others

Managing Others

Managing Self

The following reflects a sample of some of the competencies aligned to each cluster.

Competency Cluster - (followed by two sample competencies)

Leading people

Strategic Thinking, Change Management

Achieving results

Planning and Organising, Analytical Problem Solving

Working with others

Communicating,Building Relationships

Managing others

Conflict Resolution, Coaching

Managing self

Initiative, Follow through

Through our partnership with Organisational Psychologist, Bigby Havis & Associates we have the proprietary rights to the sophisticated competency building software, Strategic Success Modelling (SSM). This enables us to act as facilitators with your in-house team and build and validate competency frameworks for any job role, big or small.

The exciting outcome is that we can then link these models into the ASSESS Competency report for selection, development and, or 360 Degree Feedback.

The ASSESS profiling system is the only assessment tool on the market that is completely customisable around your job competencies.

Once you have defined competency models you can operate and control the total selection and performance management process within your organisation with your own ASSESS administration site.

If you already have your own competency framework, we can map this and load it into ASSESS to generate selection, development and 360 reports.

Ask us for a copy of our White Paper on competency model at

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