The 'competency movement' has been one of the most significant HR developments of the past 30 years. In brief, competencies recognise the significance of 'how' people do their job as opposed to 'what' people do in determining actual job performance. As such they focus on behaviours as opposed to technical skills. A classic definition of a competency is "An underlying characteristic of an individual which is causally related to effective or superior performance in a job." Richard Boyatzis, The Competent Manager (1982).

The 'behavioural' components of a job and their relative importance tend to increase with seniority. At a junior level, a job specification tends to be relatively tight, task focused and with relatively evident outputs. At a more senior level, where less tangible characteristics such as leadership qualities, decision making style and interaction become more important, these behavioural components may be more job critical than technical skillsets.

Organisations wishing to develop competency frameworks must first identify those behaviours that are key determinants for success. These may be behaviours that attach to all employees within an organisation - such as customer service, or those which apply to a functional discipline such as analytical thinking within accounting and finance or those that apply to a job family such as people development within managerial roles. Once identified, levels of capability within each relevant competency can be measured in recruitment and appraisal processes to assist in selection and development planning. The table below lists competencies that commonly form part of such frameworks.

Organisational Awareness Understands the impact and implications of decisions and activities on the organisation.  Aware of and sensitive to organisational politics.
Self Development & Willingness to Learn Understands the need to develop oneself.  Aware of personal development needs and actively pursues self development activities to improve effectiveness.
Energy & Enthusiasm Demonstrates energy and enthusiasm for work.
Resilience & Stress Tolerance Remains effective despite difficulty, disappointment and when under pressure.
Flexibility & Adaptability Adapts personal approach and operates effectively within a variety of situations and with various individuals, groups and cultures.  Adjusts to changes in the organisation or job requirements and in some cases determines what the future requires.
Initiative & Change Orientation Takes the initiative to develop and implement valuable ideas, approaches and solutions for the benefit of the business and to drive these through into action.
Interpersonal Sensitivity Shows respect for others and recognises their concerns and interests.  Is sensitive to the impact and implications of decisions and activities on individuals.
Decision Making & Judgment Has the ability to evaluate data and courses of action in an unbiased, rational way in order to make sound, logical decisions.
Analytical Problem Solving Analyses complex situations by breaking them down into manageable parts and identifies appropriate solutions based on that analysis.
Exploration/Information Search Seeks out information and gains alternative insights and perspectives to improve all areas of job performance.
Creative & Constructive Thought Displays constructive and original thinking; capable of re-conceptualising situations and positively challenges assumptions.  Takes account of contextual factors and uses lateral thinking to resolve problems and create opportunities.
Influence & Assertiveness Demonstrates self-confidence and maturity, shows respect for others' opinions and needs yet capable of putting across their own point of view and achieving desired outcomes.
Written Communication Capable of expressing facts and ideas in writing.  Produces clear and accurate documents.  Demonstrates command of language and grammar and a sensitivity to the reader.
Oral Communication Expresses himself/herself clearly and fluently.  Considers the audience and adapts spoken communication accordingly.
Interaction Establishes rapport with others and creates a positive impression through presenting confidently and encouraging open communication.
Listening Skills Listens to others attentively and patiently to ensure that he/she gains a full understanding of what others are saying.
Planning & Organising Plans projects in advance, sets realistic objectives and courses of action, anticipates resource requirements for the work in question.
Goal Orientation Strives to achieve results, persists with a problem until the desired goal is achieved.  Concentrates and is not easily distracted.
Quality Shows concern for quality and excellence, consistently sets and maintains high standards.
Strategic Perspective Has an appreciation of the strategic direction of the organisation and its market, products and services and its commercial objectives and achievements. Understands the contribution their job makes to the organisation.
Customer Service Demonstrates an understanding of both internal and external customers' needs and interests and focuses on customer satisfaction.
Technological Understands how to use available technological tools to improve performance in the job.
Team-working Operates effectively as an integrated team member.  Encourages co-operation within the team, putting team interests ahead of personal interests.
Leading People Represents team members and provides a focus for the team.  Maintains a positive attitude and clarifies objectives. Makes optimal use of the team's resources.  Encourages commitment to team objectives.
People Development Encourages others to take responsibility for their own development and demonstrates an understanding of and interest in the development needs of others.