One size doesn’t fit all: A competency-based approach to personal development

This blog post is written by our Co-Founder Sarah Scales.

 Here is an overview of how and why we’ve transformed our approach to training and development to celebrate individuals and build stronger teams.

Helping people find their talents and progress in their roles is one of the most rewarding parts of running a comms agency. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, but that’s not a problem. In fact, it is an advantage, particularly in today’s comms landscape. In my last post I covered the importance of training to deliver better commercial value to clients. Now I’d like to dive deeper and explain why training must be personalised to the individual and what we’ve done at Brands2Life to explore this.

Developing a competency-based framework

We recently overhauled our training and development to follow a competency-based approach. This sounds complicated but all it really means is that now it is super clear to everyone in the company what actions, skills and behaviours are needed in their individual roles, as well as what exactly they need to do to progress. This framework is now used throughout the business for hiring, reviewing, training and rewarding our staff.

Creating stronger teams

You would not want to have a group of individuals with exactly the same strengths working in a team. A competency performance framework recognises this, creating a team structure where every area is covered by the right mix of people. With a spread of capabilities and approaches, the team will be much stronger, more supportive and will know they are each contributing something unique.

Coachable, observable, measurable, critical

A competency-based approach is not only a way of measuring skills, but also behaviours and actions. For instance, an Account Executive may be assessed on their writing skills (blogs, emails, etc.), their behaviours (attitude to deadlines, reading media etc.) and their actions (the proof of their efforts in this area). Each of the competencies is coachable, observable, measurable and critical to the role.

Why so rigorous?

First and foremost, our staff will benefit from clearer, more personalised definitions of their roles, helping to identify current capabilities and future training needs.

If all the key competencies for a job description are clearly listed, it is much easier for a manager to assess the performance of their direct reports in a consistent, transparent way. We also link these competencies to our training programmes. Where someone needs to progress but is lacking a critical skill or behaviour, we can address this quickly by getting them the training they need.

Driving personal development

We decided to make all competency-based job descriptions available to everyone. Even if they are currently an intern they are still entitled to understand an Associate Director’s role. This approach helps everyone gain a broader perspective of what senior roles they might want to aim for and what they need to do to get to the next level. This makes the topic of promotions more transparent as managers can use the competency framework to have more focused, constructive conversations.

In short, everyone gets a better idea of where they stand and feels more appreciated for their unique contribution to the business as well as what they want to aim for in the long-term.

Because, after all, as a service industry, we are paid for who we are and the advice we give, as well as the work we do. Giving clients, suppliers and anyone who deals with Brands2Life the best experience is only possible when everyone feels recognised, rewarded and motivated to excel in their personal journey, whatever that might be.