Competence and competency frameworks
This factsheet was last updated in July 2016.
What are competence and competency frameworks?
The terms 'competency' and ‘competencies’ focus on the personal attributes or inputs of an individual. They can be defined as the behaviours (and technical attributes where appropriate) that individuals must have, or must acquire, to perform effectively at work.
'Competence' and ‘competences’ are broader concepts that encompass demonstrable performance outputs as well as behaviour inputs, and may relate to a system or set of minimum standards required for effective performance at work.
A ‘competency framework’ is a structure that sets out and defines each individual competency (such as problem-solving or people management) required by individuals working in an organisation or part of an organisation.
In the past, HR professionals have tended to draw a clear distinction between 'competences' and 'competencies'. The term ‘competence’ (competences) was used to describe what people need to do to perform a job and was concerned with effect and output rather than effort and input. ‘Competency’ (competencies) described the behaviour that lies behind competent performance, such as critical thinking or analytical skills, and described what people bring to the job. More recently however, there has been growing awareness that job performance requires a mix of behaviour, attitude and action and the terms are now more often used interchangeably.
In line with the approach taken in a number of CIPD publications, the term 'competency' is preferred in this factsheet except when specifically referring to the use of occupational standards (that is, an 'outcome-based' approach) in which case the term 'competence' is used.
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- What are competence and competency frameworks?
- Basic principles of competency
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- CIPD viewpoint
- Further reading.