Competencies Framework

The Essence of Performance

In such turbulent markets, organizations big or small are looking for ways to enhance their employees’ performance.

The new market norms are now looking for super employees who are multitasking with a different set of competencies, remote workers, and cross countries employees who can work and compete with locals creating more challenges facing organizations’ leaders.

Competency frameworks are now the essence to achieve high organizational performance by focusing on and reviewing each individual’s capability and potential.

The term is not so familiar to many organizations and often mixed with the Job descriptions and KPIs for performance management. So let me take you to step by step into the understanding of the term.

The competency framework is the communication tool organizations use to specify which behaviors are required, valued, recognized, and rewarded with respect to specific occupational roles.

The difference between KPIs and Competencies

I can tell that you are now thinking of the difference between KPIs and competencies, and saying in your mind that this is another HR new trend.

It is not, competencies frameworks evolved in the 1980s as a driver for more efficient performance levels and since then competencies frameworks kept evolving during the succeeding decades. They have become an increasingly valued part of modern HR practices in the last decade and a more focused subject during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Competencies are the attributes of knowledge, skills, and abilities, that differentiate superior performance from average and low performance.

Key Performance Indicators “KPIs” on the other hand, are, the results that an individual is expected to produce during the course of their duties, such that they will indicate to the organization that the duties are being performed at, or above, the minimum specified benchmark.

So, whilst KPIs (like competencies) are established prior to the commencement of duties for the relevant performance measurement period, KPIs achievements are measured once the individual commences his/her duties.

Competencies, on the other hand, are demonstrable by a person prior to commencing their work. And, in almost every instance, this demonstration is based on their past achievements, challenges, and/or areas of improvement.

Competencies ensure that staff, in general, have a common understanding of the organization’s values and expected excellent performance behaviors. Competency Mapping is the exercise conducted to identify the competencies (core requirements) required for each position to appropriately discharge its duties. Thus, as the process suggests, it identifies the key criteria each candidate must possess to be in their position.

So, whilst competencies are a cluster of position specifics, KPIs on the other hand are the specifics of an individual role.

Building Competency Framework

It all start with the purpose of the organization and why does it exist, then starting data collection, where the HR expert gather accurate information from staff members in assembling your competency framework is an essential step, and the more you gather, the more precise and thorough your framework will be.

Now we organize findings of behaviors and skills into a set of competencies for each role or position title. Then reviewing the framework to identify if it the behaviors established are relevant and required for each role to be done effectively to be achieving accurate job performance.

Announce the Competency Framework should be done through a proper communication, it is essential to ensure the organization wide is aware of the competency framework. When the competency framework is communicated and all teams are familiar with the concept, announce when it will be taking effect.

The Main Components of a Competency Model

The competency model based on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has three components:

  • Core Values.
  • Core Competencies.
  • Managerial Competencies.


  1. Core Values

They are the shared principles and beliefs that unite all staff and guide them to make the right decisions. Such as:

  • Commitment to the Organization
  • Integrity
  • Respect for Diversity
  • Professionalism
  1. Core Competencies

It is a set of related knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for anyone working within the organization. Some of the core competencies are:

  • Accountability
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Innovation
  • Results focus
  • Planning and organizing
  • Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement
  1. Managerial Competencies

These are applicable for employees assigned managerial work, it differs from cluster to cluster, but let us list a common managerial competencies:

  • Driving and managing change
  • Strategic thinking
  • Making quality decisions
  • Building partnerships
  • Leading and empowering others
  • Managing performance

Competency models vary from being very simple to being complex and very in-depth. They often include different levels, such as core and leadership competencies, that help employers determine how deep they need to go when looking into an individual’s skills and abilities.

Companies can create an organizational structure by developing competency models that ensure everyone from entry-level to leadership is on the same page regarding expectations and career path expectations.

Competency models can include competencies related to different areas of expertise within an organization. For example, many organizations have a set of functions and skills that each employee must possess to do their job well at their core. These competencies make up the first layer or tier of their model.

Competencies Framework will contribute to organizational performance as follows:

  1. The right choice during the hiring process by defining the standard competencies required for all positions in the organization and recruiting the right candidates through a clear and fair process.
  2. Functional competency will contribute to raising the level of employee performance in an organization by evaluating their performance against a specific set of competencies and behavioral indicators. As well as linking the organization’s strategic plan to employees’ goals and ensuring that employees have a clear understanding of the performance expected from them and the tasks they are responsible for.
  3. The framework also contributes to providing a practical methodology for transparent dialogue between top management and employees based on common goals.
  4. Employee development. Is implemented by creating training programs in line with the target competencies and work methods in the organization. Moreover, by providing up-to-date and state-of-the-art training and development resources and encouraging employees to take responsibility for self-development.
  5. Raising employee loyalty and sense of belonging. Is done by rewarding the diligent employee in light of measurable competencies and linked to individual and institutional performance, in addition to building transparency in the organization’s evaluation systems.
  6. Succession planning and Talent Management. Is done through specific criteria fitting with the goals and career path of each employee.


Small businesses need people who can create and transform with limited resources, and well-defined competencies can help foster a strong corporate culture in large organizations, build a more aligned workforce and establish key competitive differentiators.

They also help make sure you have consistent performance standards for employees, which can help with employee engagement and retention.

Pinnacle understood the market need for competency frameworks and was able to design consultation and training programs to support all kinds of organizations.   

Pinnacle® is a multi-country consultancy firm. Our consultants are spread around the world. We have built our organization on a modern business model with agility, diversity, and resilience to the business dynamics. We have chosen our technology platform to support our modern mindset thus we work from anywhere …. As work is not a place anymore. We implement Lean Six Sigma in everything we do whether internally or externally at our client sites.

The article is written by:

Hadia El Zeny,

HR & Learning Manager

Pinnacle Ltd. | Develor Egypt

Pinnacle Ltd.

Pinnacle Ltd. is a multi-countries modern consultancy firm, with offices around 11 countries in 4 continents, and 28 consultants working remotely and virtually managed.

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