Competency frameworks can sound intimidating - the preserve of multi-billion pound enterprise and chartered HR professionals. As a small charity or social enterprise, there is nothing to stop you writing as robust a framework as anyone else. Here’s how in 4 easy steps.

Worthwhile Interview Day

At Worthwhile, we refine our core competencies every year, based on who has really thrived on the scheme. With nearly 150 young people through our system, we’ve got a clear idea of what we’re looking for, and more data all the time feeding improvements.

  1. Name your core skills

Start by naming the skills you want everyone in your organisation to have. These will reflect your culture, the way you like to work, and the types of people likely to thrive in your environment. Some people find this the hardest step. If you’re struggling, think of your top performers at the moment. What do they bring to the organisation? What is it about what they do that helps them thrive? You’ll want lots of core skills, but treat this as an exercise in prioritisation. Aim for no more than four.

2. Name the skills needed for the specific role

Each individual role then will have specific technical skills. Project managers will need strong planning and organising. Sales people will need good communication skills. Developers will need to be able to write JavaScript. You’ll be able to identify lots of these, but again, prioritise and aim for no more than four.

3. Break each competency into fourfive bullet points

Take each skill one at a time, and break it into 4–5 sub-skills. As an example, for planning and organising, this might be:

  • Identifies and manages stakeholders
  • Sets criteria for success before beginning
  • Manages the scope and budget of the project effectively over time
  • Considers timing of tasks and manages dependencies
  • Proactively identifies and manages risk

4. Articulate each sub-skill at multiple levels

For each of the bullet points, describe what poor, acceptable and great looks like. For the first bullet point above this might look something like this:

0: No evidence of identifying stakeholders, or reacting to their needs

1: Clear evidence of working with stakeholders, although primarily in a reactive way

2: Stakeholders and their interests identified in advance. Clear evidence of proactive and ongoing engagement to achieve results and manage relationships

Aim to write positive statements at every level. Make clear distinctions between your levels.

And that’s it!

You should have a matrix of seven to eight competencies, articulated with four to five factors each, defined at multiple levels. When assessing candidates, you’ll have a clear, objective framework to measure their performance against. Admittedly it’s a couple of hours investment to write all this up, but it’s all re-useable. More importantly, the quality of decisions you will make will sky-rocket. We can’t recommend it enough!

Head to our website to see how we can help with your next hire.

This blog was adapted from one originally published at