Competency Frameworks for Staff Development

“What knowledge and skills do I need to proficiently perform my job?" and "In which of these do I need further development?"

Unless these questions are correctly answered, learning and development events can waste valuable employee time and dilute learning and development department resources.

Failure to accurately identify individual learning needs is one of several conditions that undermine the quality, effectiveness and relevance of learning and development. Rigid standardisation, or a "one size fits all" approach to staff development activity, fails to address the diversity of staff knowledge and skills needs that exist in any complex organisation.

Without an accurate assessment of individual learning needs, learning interventions are more likely to be unrelated to learners' jobs, and therefore fail to address the competencies required to develop the ability to effectively perform job related activities to the standard expected in employment.

The key factor in any competency-based learning system is that learners demonstrate that they have developed a skill or behaviour, rather than simply ticking off that they have received training on a topic. This approach ensures that learning and development is cost effective because activities are focused on specific outcomes related to job performance.

Organisations with competency frameworks typically use them to assess their learning and development needs. The needs analysis process entails identifying the gaps between the existing set competencies and the required set of competencies and this gap analysis informs both the design of the learning intervention and the assessment methods used. However, competency based learning and development is only as effective as the process used to identify the competencies. When little attention has been given to identification of essential job skills, or your existing competency framework has not been maintained to reflect the current and future needs of individuals, then the resulting learning, however delivered, is likely to be ineffective.