Cracking The Uncrackable: Building A New Competency Model

5 May 2017 | Lisa Stubbs | About a 3 minute read
Tags: Academy, Agile, ANDacademy, competency, flexibility, Learning, model, tech

A lot of organisations face difficulties getting their competency models or frameworks right, and we’ve struggled too. We’ve tried a few things out – some things have worked well and some things haven’t but in the spirit of being Agile, we’re continually looking to improve!


Some of the recent feedback we’ve received has been along these lines of:

‘Too broad or too specific’

‘Forcing us into tick-boxing’

‘Doesn’t take into account our specialist skills’


Sound familiar?

It’s a hard one to crack, but we’re taking some new steps to action this feedback and the many lessons we’ve learned…


Getting our people involved

And not just our Managers, which we’ve done before. The success of the new model will be down to getting our people involved, defining the skills and competencies they believe are fair for what they do on a day to day basis. We’ll then get feedback from the rest of the business to validate the model, rather than the other way round, meaning we have a huge group of people already brought into the new model.


Tick boxing behaviour

This is one of the biggest problems we’ve faced  – we had a huge list of competencies, that people would use as a checklist of what they had and hadn’t done AND we had little information around how they could measure any of these skills. Instead, we’ve looked at factors into how people can gain their own and others confidence in the skill – for example the complexity of the situation they’re obtaining the skill within and their ability to repeat that in another situation.



It’s really important to get the tone of competency models correct. We’ve been really clear that this is a ‘supporting framework’ and will not provide the answer to everything. We can’t possibly provide every answer, but if we use it as the basis for discussion, everyone will get more from it.


An individual career tool

We soon realised that there were a core set of skills/competencies that every role required, and our people want us to be explicit about this as it provides consistency and fairness across the company. However, we also know that people’s careers aren’t about core expectations – people build a variety of skills in lots of different areas through their project work, and also want to build skills based on what they enjoy and where they see their future career moving, whether that is Java 8, React or Node for our Developers or Google Design Sprints, Design Thinking or Multivariate testing for our Analysts. The new tool needs to take that flexibility, individuality AND core expectations into account.


So, what’s next?

We’re in the process of defining a more visual ‘Skills Mosaic’ that captures the above points, with lots of our people involved with defining the skills, working on the product vision, personas, journeys and ultimately building something…so watch this space!

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