Philippines’ Top HR Blog

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Developing Targeted Employee Training with a Competency Framework

Training employees can deliver value by building internal resources and capabilities, increasing the value and productivity of the workforce while improving employee loyalty to reduce turnover. Training programs can also work to cover gaps, prepare existing employees for changing roles, and ready candidates for succession.

Competency frameworks refine this process by identifying goal and target behavior– as well as which learnable behaviors and skills actually impact roles. This process is known as capability building, where you manage and learn employee development as part of workforce planning.

Changing Focus from Activity to Effectiveness

Traditional employee training and retraining modes rely on activity. These models often fail to evaluate learning and development, simply because they lack performance targets and data.

A competency framework identifies the behaviors and actions that contribute to success in a role. By identifying skill and behavior competencies, and tracking them to direct success, you know not only what to work on teaching but also how to see when training has succeeded and when training is contributing to positive business outcomes.

Targeting Learning Where It Matters

Competency frameworks also allow you to target learning, by meeting specific learning and development needs, rather than introducing a single broad course. For example, you can target specific employee roles to deliver valuable training while leaving others to study something more valuable to their role. Common competency framework-based training includes:

  • Employee development
  • Skills development with systematic exposure to work experiences
  • Orientation activities and training
  • Continuous learning for employees to ensure skills remain relevant
  • Using experienced workers in the role of mentor or coach
  • Offering lifestyle management and development such as stress and time management to improve productivity and behavior
  • Aligning new initiatives with organizational planning to ensure employees are ready for changes
  • Breaking down cultural barriers to improve cross-organizational communication
  • Building training around business applications rather than the classroom

Targeting individual training based on the competencies desired in that role now and in the future, such as training an IT team in a new software the company is integrating before it is integrated, or training customer service in customer relationship management, benefits both the organization and the employee. Their skills become more relevant and they are therefore more valued and more employable, and the organization improves total output and productivity.

Creating an Environment in Which Employees are Encouraged to Learn

A competency framework creates a system which you can use to accurately gauge what employees have to learn and why. It also creates a framework which you can use to measure the success of training and learning, not with employees passing tests, but with changes in measurable behavior that actively contributes to the organization.

This means that learning should encompass not just hard skills, but also leadership (personal and leading others), values, attitudes, behaviors, being in the workforce, hard skills, and internal systems and processes.

Basing training on a competency framework makes it possible to target goals and specific desired outcomes for individual roles – enabling you to bring individual groups of people where they most need to be to meet the company’s needs, including to deliver specific skills in a short period of time and to slowly develop candidates for larger roles over longer periods of time.


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Emotional Intelligence and Leadership: Measuring Both with a Competency Framework

term was coined as recently as 1990 by John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale, emotional intelligence and its impact on leadership and communication is now well understood. Unfortunately, many organizations lack the tools, or more accurately, the parameters, to measure whether leaders are showing emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence in Leadership?

In 1995, Daniel Goleman brought emotional intelligence to business, with a book of the same name. His theory, which was rapidly adopted by businesses across the United States, was that the ability to understand your and others’ emotions, was a valuable and even necessary skill for leaders and people management.

He hypothesized that a good leader must show emotional intelligence through 5 traits including self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation (passion beyond money and status), empathy, and social skills. Armed with these 5 emotional skills, a leader could surpass those showing any level of technical skill or intelligence by guiding employees, building bonds with those he’s working with, and establishing better trust and communication.

Why? Leaders have to guide and move people. Being good at what they do is not enough to motivate and inspire others. Emotional intelligence bridges that gap.

Measuring Emotional Intelligence

While emotional intelligence has traditionally been difficult to measure, competency frameworks give you the tools to recognize which behaviors positively influence a role, and how they do so. By creating a framework of what success looks like in a role, you can actively measure when leaders are fulfilling those obligations.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Emotional self-control
  • Adaptability
  • Achievement orientation
  • Helping others to succeed
  • Positive outlook
  • Empathy
  • Organizational awareness
  • Influencing others
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Conflict management
  • Teamwork
  • Inspiring others
  • Leadership

How Emotional Intelligence Impacts Leadership

How do these competencies play out in a real-world situation? The simplest idea is that a leader is managing a team. Let’s say she assigns a large task to one person who says they can take it on. The task has a hard deadline but the employee assigned to it is struggling and says so.

Option A: The manager gets angry, if they couldn’t do it why did they say they could, does the work themselves and turns it in by deadline.

Option B: The manager reviews the situation and gives the employee guidance, encouraging them to complete the task. The manager offers some assistance from another employee, available on demand to ensure the project is completed on time. The employee uses the advice to finish the job on time and is extremely motivated by their finishing it

In these scenarios, both achieve the same result. The project is completed on time. But, option B is significantly more beneficial for organizations because it a) allows the manager to continue doing their own work not the employee’s, b) motivates and inspires employees c) builds employees up rather than tearing them down.

Similarly, if employee information were changed, and the employee goes to the manager to say that his wife was in a terrible car accident, he’s stressed and would like to go stay at the hospital with her instead of finishing the project. A leader might say no, the project needs to be done and you volunteered, it’s a tight deadline and there’s no time to move it to someone else. An emotionally intelligent leader would do everything in their power to move the work to someone else or do it themselves – building employee loyalty, ensuring the quality of the project, and motivating the employee for future projects.

So, emotional intelligence allows leaders to make choices that actively benefit the organization in the long-term.


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Organizational vs. Technical and Behavioral Competencies

If you’re introducing a competency model or framework into performance management and hiring, it’s important to understand organizational and technical or behavioral competencies. Each have an important role in your business, and are crucial for hiring and performance management. But, each must be measured differently in order to properly manage performance.

What are Organizational Competencies?

Organizational competencies are core competencies defining what the company does best and how it expects that to be accomplished. Most organizations define 15-25 competencies that define how employees are expected to act as a whole, and common traits that everyone must have in order to succeed. These remain the same across the organization.

Common organizational competencies include:

  • Agility
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Integrity
  • Customer centricity
  • Strategic perspective
  • Resilience
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
  • Personal leadership

These traits define a culture of behavior and competencies which ensure that employees are able to meet the behavior and competency expected by the company.

Technical and Behavioral Competencies

Technical and behavioral competencies, also known as individual competencies, must be defined on a role level and applied to individuals. These competencies define the skills and behavioral traits required to succeed in individual roles and must be defined accordingly.

Here, you define both technical competencies or hard skills and knowledge and behavioral competencies, such as behaviors and traits that allow a person to be successful.

Technical Competencies – Technically competencies are what a person can do. They define hard skills, specific knowledge, and what a person can do. For example, an IT role would need someone with a strong knowledge of system security, specific software or platforms you use, and so on. But, they would also need specific behaviors if they were to be successful in that role.

Behavioral Competencies – Behavioral competencies define how an individual performs in their role. Organizational competencies are broad and high level, but behavioral competencies define individual behaviors that apply to the role. For example, an IT person might need attention to detail, empathy, quick-thinking, problem solving, and a good memory to be able to perform well in their role.

Defining competencies and how they apply to both the role and the organization is a crucial part of developing a competency model. Both are important, but in different ways, and each are crucial to a good competency model. Individual competencies must be defined as technical and behavioral and organizational competencies must apply to every employee across the company.


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Streamlining Recruitment with a Competency Framework

Hiring new employees is often a balance between choosing individuals with the hard skills and knowledge to perform well in a role and the personality and behavior to fit well into a company. Traditionally, recruiters create a profile of who they are looking for, and match potential candidates against that profile. Unfortunately, this process heavily focuses on technical skill and formal learning, often overlooking competencies such as attitude and behavior patterns, which can be equally as important.

Competencies show not only what an employee can do but also how and how well they utilize the resources at their disposal (tools, skills, knowledge) to complete their jobs. Using a competency framework as part of the recruitment process allows you to streamline this process by identifying those factors and therefore making better hires.

How competency frameworks streamline recruitment

Improving Interview Accuracy

Competency frameworks allow you to set up a structured interview, in which recruiters use standardized behavior-based questions to determine how candidates handled previous situations or theoretical ones. This allows you to score individual candidates based on how well they respond, which is more successful in predicting the candidate’s future behavior than using unstructured models.

This does mean using a competency framework to identify role-based competencies for the position you’re hiring for, but improves the accuracy of hires for both current and future roles. Creating a competency framework normally involves reviewing existing employees to identify which factors make them successful in a role – including their behavior, decisions, and actions – alongside technical skills and knowledge.

Improving Candidate Feedback

Identifying and using competency frameworks allows you to create and offer clear and rational responses when refusing candidates. This works to improve the overall hiring process by giving candidates something for their time while helping recruiters to better define what they are looking for based on clear reasons specific candidates are not suited for the position.

Reduced Turnover

Hiring employees whose behavior does not fit into a specific role often results in high levels of turnover. For example, hiring an experienced person with the right technical skills for a role does not make them competent or happy in that role if they are traditional and prefer to move slowly while the role requires a fast-paced and fast-adapting candidate. By identifying the specific behavior competencies that help candidates to excel in a role, you can improve job satisfaction as well as performance.

Reduce Costs

Looking for specific behavior parameters on top of technical skill and knowledge improves the effectiveness and efficiency of candidate selection – therefore reducing total costs. Competency-based recruitment is results oriented and measurable, allowing you to create a direct return on value in the recruitment process.

Competency frameworks give recruiters a framework of what success looks like in a role, allowing them to map candidates to behavior rather than looking for a generic profile. This, in turn, speeds up the recruitment process, allows better personality and behavior matching, and increases the chances of a good fit.


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Benefits of Using Competency Frameworks

Competency frameworks allow you to establish behavior and skills needed to perform well in your organization and in specific roles. This enables you to define what good work looks like at every level of the organization, highlighting both how the company works and how good work is performed by individuals. More importantly, a good competency framework defines both what an employee can do and how they do it, so that you create a solid process to define work.

However, the process of creating and integrating competency frameworks can be intimidating, long, and costly. If you’re considering competency-based hiring or performance management, you need to know that it will have a payoff. While the actual value of competency frameworks depends on their quality and how they are integrated, there are numerous benefits for organizations. From recruiting to assessment to performance management to succession planning, competency frameworks play a big role in the businesses that use them.

3 big competency framework benefits

Defining Success

Competency frameworks allow you to define success in a role and in your organization. If you can highlight the behaviors that are necessary to succeed in your company, you can streamline hiring. And, if you’ve defined what success looks like in each role and function of your organization, you can improve hiring and performance management. In short, you give your company a map for job expectations, career paths, and performance measurement by which you can measure, reward, and promote workers.

Improving Processes

When you know what you are looking for, when you know what target capabilities and skills to look for, and when you have identified behaviors that perform well in your role, you can improve hiring as well as internal processes and even succession planning. Any employee-based program is automatically based on the existing framework, helping you to set targets, define goals, and better define candidates. This also speeds up processes, because rather than redefining what is needed from a candidate each time and getting leaders to agree on targets, they’re already there.

Setting Clear Expectations

Using a competency framework allows you to define what is expected from employees, which will in turn, improve communication and performance. By defining competencies, you can:

  • Ensure that training and professional development is target based and productive
  • Offers employees a way to measure and improve their competencies while improving mobility
  • Track employee growth and competency improvement
  • Improve communication between management and the workforce by clarifying job standards and creating channels for constructive feedback
  • Set clear expectations for employees while creating a mechanism for recognizing high performers

Competency frameworks can allow you to recruit the right people and manage and ensure that the right people stay in roles where they are needed, while growing and measuring the success of workers. Competency frameworks can tie into every aspect of recruitment and performance management, as well as succession and pipeline planning – because you have the tools to measure, reward, and improve on the successes of your best employees.


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How Competency Frameworks Tie Into Employee Monitoring and Quality Assurance

Competency frameworks are increasingly integrated into organizational performance management to measure not only what employees do but also how they do it. This same data can be integral in creating a culture of management and quality assurance, by better defining what success looks like – so that managers have the tools to shift focus away from procedure and tradition and towards efficiency and meeting quality standards.

While this requires a certain level of competency from leaders, it also allows you to take steps to measure and verify the quality of work being completed using information already at your disposal.

Using Competency Frameworks for Monitoring

An organization’s competency framework is developed around both the skills and knowledge needed to complete tasks for a role and the behavior and attitudes required to perform well in the role. Actual monitoring is typically achieved using a 3-part process of watching and observing, benchmarking and actively using data, and offering feedback.

  • Assign managers to consistently monitor worker behavior over time
  • Benchmark data to establish performance norms, both for individuals and for roles (you can use this to identify high performers, when performance goes up/down, and to target those who are struggling inside the organization)
  • Make monitoring about both noting behaviors shown in key situations, such as when decision-making, learning, or meeting deadlines and offering real-time feedback and goal-oriented motivation.

Good Behavior Means Quality Work

The core of any competency framework is to either improve productivity or improve the quality of productivity. While some organizations lose sight of tying competencies to direct output such as organizational goals, production, or performance, your definition of good behavior should be those traits and behaviors which directly contribute to organizational goals, including quality.

  • Ensure that competencies are tied to performance (if you don’t have competencies tying into performance and direct organizational benefit, they will not help the company).
  • Establish competencies which directly tie into quality control (Asking for help, focuses on creating quality work, technically skilled, seeks out feedback and constructive criticism, flexibility, establishes clear work processes, etc.)
  • Monitor performance output with competencies to verify that the competencies in place line up with actual quality of work produced

Focusing Learning and Development on Competencies

While competency frameworks are valuable in assessing and identifying good work and behavior, they are also valuable for identifying competency gaps. Many organizations using competency models also offer competency training to help bridge gaps to allow employees to work to improve problem areas so that they can contribute more to the organization.

While competency frameworks are valuable at performance review, a well-integrated model offers those same benefits throughout the year, tying into ongoing employee monitoring and quality assurance


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5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team: Producing a Synergistic Effect

Please join us on May 17 to 18 for a public seminar on the 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team: Producing a Synergistic Effect. This seminar-workshop will go over how to build a cohesive, effective team that gets better engagement and higher performance.

Participants will be able to understand the self and others to create a better, stronger team. We will also cover how to improve team effectiveness and productivity through the understanding and application of The Five Behaviors: Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results.

Register Now

An effective and high performing team dedicates time and effort to embrace a healthy set of behaviors.  A team that works well together performs better.

Course Outline

  • The Five Behaviors and Your Team
  • Building Trust: Vulnerability-based Trust
  • Engaging in Healthy Conflict: Mastering a Constructive and Productive Conflict
  • Your Team and Commitment: Achieving Commitment
  • An Accountable Team: Embracing Accountability
  • Obtaining Collective Results
  • DISC Personality Theory
  • Your Team and the Impact of Your DISC Style
  • Teamwork: A Strategic Advantage
  • Your Team’s Strengths
  • Overcoming Your Team’s Challenges
  • Team SPIRIT:  Achieving Common Goals
  • Developing and Achieving Organizational Synergy

Register Now

The investment for this seminar is P8,500 plus VAT.

About the Facilitator

Dr. Rosario Alzona, or Dr. Cherry, holds a Master’s Degree in Statistics and Ph.D. in Organizational Development. She is an accomplished Organizational Development professional with almost 20 years of experience in diverse work environments.  She has varied experiences in organizational assessment, OD intervention design and implementation, learning and development and process/procedure design and development. Dr. Alzona has taken various Information Technology and OD Consultancy projects with several Consulting firms and has taught for ten years in the Graduate School of several universities and colleges in diverse topics of management and leadership. She is a frequent speaker at various seminars and workshops with topics on Leadership, Team Building, Organizational Assessment, Strategic Planning, Change Management and Appreciative Inquiry. She is a High-energy Trainer and Creative Facilitator, skilled in guiding learners through engaging breakthrough learning opportunities.


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Promoting Corporate Entrepreneurship with Competency Frameworks

The world is increasingly dynamic and flexible. Technology changes at a rapid pace. Organizations must increasingly be just as flexible and fast-paced to keep up. This is evident in the success of edgy entrepreneurial corporations like Uber and Bonobos, who went from nothing, to major corporations poised to take on the biggest traditional company. Corporate entrepreneurship is the process of promoting internal entrepreneurship, so that employees have the freedom and confidence to create efficiencies and new working methods for themselves – therefore improving the organization as a whole.

Competency frameworks can allow you to recognize and promote the behavior and freedoms contributing to this behavior.

Identifying and Encouraging Entrepreneurial Competencies

Competency frameworks work to identify specific behavior which contributes to entrepreneurial thinking. For example, you can highlight where behaviors like risk taking, trying new things, adaptability, and creative problem-solving come together to create new solutions and ideas.

By highlighting what contributes to a corporate culture of entrepreneurism, you can encourage it, reward it, and ensure that individuals have the operational freedom to make changes to how they work. This also requires self-motivation, a willingness to learn, and the ability to adjust and take small steps.

Failing Forward

Failing Forward is the concept that you have to fail before you can succeed. By allowing employees to fail, you can create a culture of constant small failures leading to big successes. For example, by allowing teams to try and do new things, even when they don’t necessarily succeed – you give everyone the opportunity to take small steps and test them at every step of the way to reduce risk – while having the ability to fail.

This risk-taking behavior can be extremely beneficial in a controlled environment, because developing new work methods, new tools, and new processes is increasingly important for organizations to even keep up with the competition. This requires an increased level of risk-acceptance behavior on an individual level, so that employees can try new things without risk of reprisal if they fail (providing they get approval first) and can look forward to a reward if they succeed.

Measuring Success

While many HR tactics have been used to build corporate entrepreneurship, many of those methods lack a solid way to measure success. When you allow failure, what does success look like? Competency frameworks allow you to define the behavior, attitudes, and product that lead to success. How? A person who is taking risks and trying new things isn’t necessarily doing so with the benefit of the entire company in mind. By identifying the total factors that play into success, such as keeping the total impact on the entire organization in mind, focusing on day-to-day work as well as long-term goals (a person spending all their time optimizing a process isn’t performing their job), and self-improvement which includes the ability to accept and give constructive criticism, you can identify what actually makes this behavior work.

Risk acceptance and encouraging individual contribution are the two primary factors playing into successfully increasing corporate entrepreneurship, and competency frameworks give you the tools to encourage, measure, and quantify risk-taking behavior, motivation, self-improvement and development, and the behaviors which add to total employee contributions to the organization.


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Integrating a Leadership Competency Framework

Excellence in an organization often starts from the top down. If your leaders including managers, board members, CEO, and other top staff are not behaving in a way that benefits the organization, you cannot expect the rest of the workforce to do so without them. Leadership competency frameworks allow you integrate new competency standards from the top up, first integrating and adjusting leadership and then onboarding the workforce.

While it is important that leadership competency frameworks never become standalone or separate from the competency framework as a whole, integrating or introducing competencies for leaders first gives you the ability to introduce and streamline the process where it matters most – the people guiding the rest of your workforce.

Providing Training

A leadership competency framework will give leaders a template for their own behavior, showing what is effective and what isn’t inside of a role. However, making the switch to new management styles often isn’t easy. Providing training and learning opportunities gives everyone the ability to adapt and learn new things. This, in turn, gives those who won’t succeed well with the new model the opportunity to recognize where they have to change in order to keep up.

Clearly Communicating What is Expected

Many organizations attempt to be ambiguous about what is expected from competency frameworks, simply because information can be translated in many different ways. While it’s true that allowing individuals to interpret competencies in ways that apply specifically to their situations can be valuable, this can backfire. By taking the time to identify and clarify points of confusion you ensure adoption and understanding. Offer clear examples of what good behavior is so that leaders know what is expected of them. Using behavioral statements as well as anecdotes, studies, and even case-studies of behavior inside the organizations can be extremely helpful for conveying a point. For example, if you can say “remember when X employee did this and achieved Y? What if X employee had done Z instead, a behavior that many of you do every day… would Y have still been achieved?”

  • Link expected behavior to outcomes and production
  • Make sure leaders understand why competencies exist. What’s the end-value?
  • Provide examples that fit your work culture and environment
  • Ask leaders to come up with their own examples to ensure understanding

Define Where and How Competencies Are Used

Leaders will eventually use competency frameworks to assess candidates for hire, for managing performance, for professional development, and for career planning for their workers. It’s crucial that they understand this and how those factors affect them and their own careers before they begin to use it.

For example, a common misunderstanding is that competency frameworks only come into play during end-of-year review. However, a good competency framework integrates into daily behavior, individual task management, and in guiding employees on how they should perform their job.

Introducing any new performance measurement tool will be met with resistance, even from leadership. The best path to success is to ensure that everyone involved has the information to see what it’s for, how it works, and what it will do. Providing adequate training and information also ensures everyone has the opportunity to get onboard.


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Key Behavioral Indicators for Employees

Key behavioral indicators for employees can help you to measure and reward high-performance. By predetermining which performance factors contribute positively to the organization or positively to an individual role, you can create a framework with which to measure success beyond simply meeting the requirements of the job. Key behavioral indicators are a crucial element of competency frameworks, because they give you the tools to guide leaders to accurately measure employee performance based on factors that impact total success in a role.

This is valuable not only during end-of-year performance measurement but also when determining employee rewards, selecting candidates for promotion, and choosing candidates to move into leadership and vertical roles (such as IT Manager to Senior IT Manager).

Organizational Key Behavioral Indicators for Employees

In most cases, it is crucial that you work to develop a list of organizational key behavior indicators, which applies to all employees in every role. This is developed at an organizational level to ensure that every employee shows the integrity, work ethic, and other behavioral standards expected of the organization as a whole.

For example: (The Employee)

  • Demonstrates and applies the knowledge and skills to perform their role effectively
  • Understands and works within company regulation and culture, following laws, policies, regulations, and procedures.
  • Continuously works to improve
  • Communicates with others, sharing and building knowledge with others
  • Collaborates with others across the organization, offering assistance and actively being helpful where needed
  • Effectively chooses and utilizes tools and knowledge to complete a task

These standards can help you to judge whether a person is being effective in their role rather than simply performing in it. For example, if you can identify that someone is not choosing efficient tools to do their work, that they are not communicating and not collaborating with others (and therefore slowing down work that relies on their expertise), and does not understand company procedure, you can easily identify that they are not a top employee, even if they are consistently meeting their own specific work output targets and goals because they aren’t contributing in any other way than direct tasks.

Role-Based Key Behavioral Indicators

While organizational-level key behavioral indicators are valuable for creating a company culture of communication and collaboration, you often need role-based KBI to measure the success of individuals in their roles. This means developing a custom competency framework to identify a) what success looks like in this role, b) which behaviors are necessary for success, c) which unlearnable behaviors are most crucial to this role (I.E., quick thinking, adaptability, willingness to work with others, etc.). Developing these key behavioral indicators makes it possible to measure individual roles, hire for those competencies, and measure how employees are contributing to the organization as a whole.

In almost every instance, developing custom key behavioral indicators is necessary for measuring individual success inside your company. However, most organizations work with an existing competency framework, adapted and customized to their individual organizational needs.


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