January 2021
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TD Magazine

A Competency Framework for Success

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Provide employees with a living document of necessary capabilities for effective performance.

While some call it by other names, a competency framework gives organizations an understanding of the behaviors and abilities that define employees' effective performance in a role. It's important that companies keep the framework current, revisiting it when business and global changes (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) happen.


In "Competency Framework: Build for Tomorrow," Michael Ganeles and Joe Sillner write that "If done right, you can use the framework as the foundation of talent management processes, including selection, development, succession, performance management, and more."

An organization's competency framework will be unique to that company but will have elements in common with other frameworks, specifically that the framework addresses questions related to talent issues on three levels:

  • Individual talent questions address who should be hired for a specific role and whether employees are ready to be promoted.
  • Department questions revolve around whether the team has the right quantity and quality of employees and leaders to thrive and whether there are gaps.
  • Enterprise questions ask whether the company has talent to meet its organizational strategies and cultural initiatives and what the organization expects from employees and leaders.

It's critical that employers have a framework that addresses those areas and that it is "a living entity that is truly integrated into the way people work," Ganeles and Sillner emphasize.

These tips were adapted from the January 2021 issue of TD at Work. Learn more at td.org/TDatWork.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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