Alex Fredkin, Author at CABEM Technologies LLC

Competency Modeling for Beginners: What it is and How You Can Do It Too!

What is Competency Modeling?

If you work in Human Resources or are a CEO who keeps up to date with learning and development program trends, you will know of competency models. A competency model, according to, is “a framework for defining the skill and knowledge requirements of a job. It is a collection of competencies that jointly define successful job performance.”

Competencies are more all encompassing than job skills because the idea is they take into account soft skills such as knowledge, behaviors, and abilities in addition to technical or required skills of a role. And this collection of competencies makes up a competency model.

Whether your company needs to assess hard or soft skills for business goals or due to compliance with quality and safety regulations, implementing competency models within your organization will supercharge your learning and development program.

Elements of a Competency Model

Competency models can take a variety of forms, but as points out in the excerpt below, they usually include the following elements:

  • Competency names and detailed definitions
  • Descriptions of activities or behavior
  • A diagram of the model

For example, a competency model could include a competency called “Teamwork” defined as:

  • establishing constructive and solid interpersonal relationships;
  • treating others with courtesy, tact, and respect;
  • working effectively with others, regardless of organizational level, background, gender, race, or ethnicity;
  • working to resolve disagreements, attempting to persuade others and read agreements;
  • abiding by and supporting group decisions; and
  • facilitating team interaction and maintaining focus on group goals.

And this model of Teamwork could consist of behaviors such as:

  • handling differences in work styles effectively when working with coworkers,
  • capitalizing on strengths of others on a team to get work done,
  • anticipating potential conflicts and addressing them directly and effectively,
  • motivating others to contribute opinions and suggestions, and
  • demonstrating a personal commitment to group goals.

While these models can often be as simple as a bulleted list, a visual diagram can help leadership and direct reports get a better sense of how the competencies are interrelated and its key features. They can also include information on career pathways and how the requirements of the hard or soft skills are different at various levels of mastery and experience.

Look at this competency model from as an example. It is the Waste and Wastewater model. And to learn more about manufacturing and competency management, read our article on the topic.


Once the model has been put in place, there are many different ways to implement it into an organization. Many companies use elearning and training software such as Learning Management Systems (LMS). More advanced companies use Competency Management Systems. See a few examples of this below.

Competency-based Training Example in Manufacturing

Human resources and training departments use competency models to define skill requirements for specific positions. These models are also used to assess performance and job progress, and in this way help set business strategy throughout the company as a whole.

For example, The Manufacturing Institute has developed the Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model. In this model some of the workplace competencies include:

  • Understand how one’s performance can impact the success of the organization
  • Demonstrate an understanding of market trends, the company’s position in the marketplace, and defined market segments
  • Understand the position of the company’s product/service with regards to market demand.

Any worker possessing the above competencies will make them a more valuable employee. And as you can see, workplace competencies encompass much more than the technical skills required for job performance. In this Advanced Competency Model, they also include issues related to business ethics, legal/financial issues, environmental, health and safety, and social responsibility issues.

Competency Model Example in Human Resources

Not all competency models have to be industry specific and can have broader use to Human Resources as well. Assessment Associates International, a recruiting firm, recently noted, “Organizations are fluid and dynamic. Technologies and processes change, and competitive pressures regularly alter how jobs are defined. Less supervision, increased technical skills, greater use of information technology, and the ever-changing nature of work itself all create a need for a different set of competencies.”

AAI also goes on to describe how competency models can not only help with the learning and development of current employees, but can aid in the process of hiring to determine what to look for in a candidate and career pathways for each individual from day one. Look at their version of a competency model below, and notice the similarities and differences from the one that CareerOneStop put together.

competency model human resources

Value of a Competency Model

While it is true that all companies already have some sort of competency management program in place, because if their employees weren’t competent they would be out of business! But the purpose of a competency management system and competency modeling is to identify what makes the best members of the organization special, and translate that to the rest of the business. Cheryl Lasse for specifies that “In essence, the value of a competency model is that it identifies what skills each person in the company must be able to do to be “great.” If everyone performs at the “great” level, the company strategy is achieved, and a company is likely to have a competitive advantage. For example, an engineer must be able to perform engineering design functions, but a great engineer can work with other R&D engineers to troubleshoot design issues before they reach manufacturing.”

Bear in mind that in today’s competitive business environment, the need for competency models is more acute than ever. Lasse goes on to elaborate this point, saying:

  • The pace of change has accelerated—and with it, the skills required to be successful continue to change.
  • To survive today, companies must continuously innovate, which only increases the changing skills required.
  • People stay in the same job for less time and, therefore, people need to be able to become “great” without as much experience as they had in the past.
  • New workers entering the workforce want to be able to make an impact more quickly; they want to know how to be “great” right away and are motivated to get there.

Managers need to know what hard and soft skills are required for themselves and their direct reports to excel. They must also understand how to innovate and maximize their talent management potential. This leads to more motivated individuals and success for the organization.

How to Use Competency Models in Your Organization

Now that you understand what a competency model is, have seen examples, and how they are valuable to an organization, it is time to make them for yourself! To use competency models, it is important to identify who the key instructional designers and subject matter experts are in your organization. These personnel will be instrumental in not only creating the models but also distributing them to the organization and making sure they are implemented effectively. Depending on the type of organization, these individuals could all be in the HR department, but it is likely they are in the Learning and Development department, as well as some members in the Quality and Safety divisions.

Many organizations use a combination of spreadsheets and written documents to write down the competency models, and then put the onus on L+D leadership to carry them out to the rest of the organization using an LMS.

This can be effective, but as organizations grow and requirements change, can become problematic. To learn more about the importance of Competency Management in an organization, read our article.

Here at CABEM we believe that the best way to positively impact your employees and learning and development programs is with a competency management software system. We designed our Competency Manager product for this exact reason. If you see a value in this type of approach and want to learn more, we’d love to give you a demo.

5 Core Competencies for Effective Leadership

Leadership Competencies for C Level Executives

Developing competencies for an organization is as important as it is challenging. While most of the focus in competency management is for the individual employee, it is equally vital for C-Level executives, managers, supervisors, and other decision-makers to adhere to competencies specific to them.

In a Harvard Business Review study, Sunnie Giles analyzed 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74.

These competencies were grouped into five major themes and priorities for leadership development programs. These have a significant impact on both operations and business development. The five groups are:

  1. Demonstrates strong ethics and provides a sense of safety
  2. Empowers others to self-organize
  3. Fosters a sense of connection and belonging
  4. Shows openness to new ideas and encourages organizational learning
  5. Nurtures growth

Giles concluded by saying, “These five areas present significant challenges to leaders due to the natural responses that are hardwired into us. But with deep self-reflection and a shift in perspective (perhaps aided by a coach), there are also enormous opportunities for improving everyone’s performance by focusing on our own.”

Core Leadership Competencies Evaluation

core competency training
Leaders who train themselves to core competencies will be the most effective

As a CEO, look at the above five groups as guiding principles to your management style. As other leaders have agreed upon these, they can help you make sure you are behaving in ways that not only benefit not only the organization as a whole in accordance to these themes, but also improving your own skills and personal development.

Demonstrates Strong Ethics and Provides a Sense of Safety:

Are you, as a CEO, upholding the standards that your company represents? Do you motivate your employees to act in a fair and balanced way in all their business transactions. Are you treating all individuals and customers with respect, and communicate about the importance of honesty in all business dealings? If you do, then you are contributing to your employees’ sense of safety. A workplace where standards are defined and upheld, and where personal differences are respected, is one where employees can thrive and work together as a team.

Empowers Others to Self-Organize:

As Giles noted, research has repeatedly shown that empowered teams are more productive and proactive, provide better customer service, and show higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their group and organization. Are you a leader who hesitates to let people self-organize or resists giving up power? A leader that is able to do this successfully sets his organization and individuals up for long term success.

Fosters a Sense of Connection and Belonging:

If you are a CEO who wants to promote a sense of belonging among your employees, this goes beyond simply holding a Holiday party every December! You need to reinforce this sense of connection every day, in all your corporate communications and in your behavior. Walking through your company’s offices each morning and greeting employees by name, asking about their families, and giving them recognition for a job well done all go a long way towards developing a sense of connection in your team. As you do this your employees will not only feel more appreciated and have improved morale, but improved performance as well.

Shows Openness to New Ideas and Fosters Organizational Learning:

You want to be the type of leader who shows support and encouragement to employees who come forward with ideas about how to improve processes, save time and money, and make other suggestions that will make the workplace more productive. You also want to foster organizational learning at your company, to give workers the chance to improve themselves, seek opportunities to advance and to acquire new skills. All of these will have an impact on both your operations and your business development. If you develop an environment that encourages risk-taking, and that sees failure as an opportunities for lessons and growth, then you will support employees in their creativity and find that your company is a place where people enjoy their work and thrive in their roles.

Nurtures Growth:

Are you a CEO who nurtures growth? Are you willing to listen to your managers as they grapple with problems, and do not judge them as they try out new solutions? If you do this, you will be nurturing their growth. People learn by experience. Sometimes they have to fail to grasp a lesson well. And if they do, help them get back up and try again. Your managers will grow in the process, they will trust you as their CEO, and they will feel confident they are developing skills as they move forward.

Competency Models Can Guide You in the Process

Many leaders instinctually have all of the above competencies, and some do not. But either way, it is important that leaders formalize their own competencies just as they do for their direct reports and others.

Develop or implement a competency management system in your company that allows you to lead by example, so you can clearly communicate expectations throughout the business. Don’t be restricted by what has been done in the past; push the boundaries and welcome feedback as to what your employees like or don’t like about your competency management process and learning and development program.

How to Deliver Competency Models to an Organization

If your company has been using a Learning Management Systems (LMS) for training, this can be very effective, but does not address all elements that come with the broader view competency management allows. This type of software can deliver competency models to individuals across the organization, accounting for not just hard skill trainings, but soft skills such as behaviors or knowledge. Moving to a competency management system can alleviate the following pain points:

  • Organizational silos in big companies, where information is not readily or easily shared
  • Allows C-level to step back and assess their goals, and use that assessment as a compass for their Learning and Development programs
  • L&D and cultural knowledge can be formalized and distributed company-wide

Giving your team access to all relevant information on a dashboard will enhance business development and ensure you are poised to react to industry changes. As Pasmore and Taylor said in their article Core Competencies Remain Critical to Success, “In the future, change will be key to every major breakthrough, of which there are potentially very many. To seize these opportunities, leaders will need to up their game concerning change…”

Competency management software will help your senior team to get ahead of the change curve and identify opportunities quickly, which in turn “will build a greater capacity in individuals, teams, and networks to undertake successful change,” said the authors.

Most importantly, your competency management software will enable you to understand the potential of technology to transform your organization and the world. You want to achieve significant accomplishments and do so in an efficient, effective, and lasting way. Competency Management software will be critical to your success in this endeavor.

If you are interested in making this shift, talk to us! Our competency management software is flexible and scalable enough to accommodate growing organizations of any size.