Does your business have a capability framework in place for your people that clearly lays out the knowledge, skills and expertise needed to work effectively in each role? If the answer is ‘yes,’ the secondary question is, ‘are you getting maximum value from the investment you put in to create it in the first place?’ If on the other hand, you don’t have a capability framework for your people, you might be wondering if it is worth the effort – it’s not after all immediately going to boost sales or magnify pipeline activity – so where is the return?
In this article, we pin-point six ways in which you can get real value out of a capability framework so you achieve a significant return on your investment and tangible benefits for many parts of the business.
What do we mean by a capability framework?
First and foremost a heartfelt view formed from our experience – a capability framework does not have to be a large behemoth that takes years to develop.
It does need to be pragmatic and appropriate for the size, complexity and maturity of your business.
At a simple level, the first stage is to consider the core capability areas required to be successful in a particular function. For example, for underwriting, you may wish to include core capabilities such as case underwriting skills; market and business knowledge; sales and relationship management; and so on. Each of these core capabilities can then be broken down further into specific competency requirements. So, for case underwriting, you may wish to include competencies such as identifying and evaluating risks; case pricing; applying appropriate terms and conditions; etc. The next stage is to consider how many levels of differentiation you would expect to see in your business. We would suggest that at a minimum there should be three levels of differentiation from beginner, through to intermediate and then expert. But we have seen and worked on frameworks with four, five and even seven levels of differentiation applied. Do bear in mind, that the more levels of differentiation, the more complex the model and the more work involved but it does provide a greater level of granularity.
The final stage of building the framework, and in our experience the most time consuming part, is developing and agreeing the descriptors (in one to three succinct sentences) that need to be added into each ‘cell’ of the framework. Using the example above, how would you describe the skills and experience you would expect to see for identifying and evaluating risks at a beginner level; at an intermediate level; and at an expert level?
Once you have populated your framework, the next step is to make use of the framework to capture some initial data by conducting an assessment of current capability across the business. How to conduct this analysis needs to reflect the maturity of your business; the business complexity; the level of detail required from any analysis; the resource available to conduct the analysis, and so on. A simple online self-assessment question set combined with a manager review can provide a very good indication of skill levels across a business – and that is easy to administer and not a burden on the business. Remember, keep it simple and don’t forget the end goal of using it to drive actions to deliver your business strategy.
Now you have invested the time in developing a capability framework for your business and you have done some initial data collection – how can you get best value from it?
So crucially here are 6 ways:
- Informs your business strategy
Review your business strategy – have you got the correct number of people with the right skills to deliver your current business plan? Have you got an appropriate number of qualified technical licence holders? At an operational level, the results of your analysis can help inform your workforce management and planning. Looking forward, if you are seeking to broaden your footprint into new segments, lines of business or markets, have you got the appropriate resource to support these goals? If not, can you develop from within or do you need to recruit?
- Enables targeted training and development activity
Many businesses will have a gut feel for where their gaps are in capability and will invest in recruiting or developing their teams accordingly. But if this is the only route taken, this can lead to a scattergun approach to development activity and a lack of focus on developing the capabilities that are most required to support strategy. Instead use the framework analysis to identify your key skill gaps for your business strategy and then target your development resource and budget to addressing these priorities. Otherwise it is all too easy to commit to training solutions only for the part of the business that shouts loudest!
- Improves your recruitment process
Aligning your recruitment processes to your capability framework should make all aspects of recruitment more targeted and cost effective. Examples are: job adverts that fully reflect the capabilities required for your roles; more focussed advertising of roles; better initial screening of applicants so only the most suitable reach the face to face stage; interview questions and assessment exercises aligned to key capabilities so applicants can be objectively tested against priority criteria; and more fundamentally do you recruit to fill capability gaps directly and immediately, or do you recruit people with the potential to be developed to fill future gaps?
- Underpins your technical licencing infrastructure
Industry regulators have prioritised heavily a drive to raise the standard of professionalism across the industry and will assess a business to validate that those in positions of authority are suitably qualified to make decisions. This principle should cascade down throughout a business whereby technical licences for underwriting, claims, etc. are granted on the basis of assessed technical knowledge of the individual and not down to position held within the organisation. By clearly linking your capability framework to your licence framework, you have a basis to assess the suitability of licence authority.
- Supports your succession plans
Consistency of understanding of core capabilities across different teams, functions and divisions enables you to identify people from all areas of the business with the capabilities needed to fill succession gaps in other parts of the business other than their own. Once you have identified those with the potential to fill roles in the future, you can help them develop any gaps in their capability by giving them a variety of development opportunities to prepare them for the future.
- Drives individual career planning
For any individual in the business, the framework can be used to understand clearly what capabilities are required for different roles and to plan their personal development accordingly. It is an invaluable tool in development discussions between individuals and their leaders and ensures a real consistency across the business, a focus on the end goal and a requirement to plan their specific development activity.
So we hope the question you are asking now is – why haven’t we got a capability framework in place?
At MAP Training we have considerable experience in the design, development and refinement of capability frameworks and also in helping organisations to get maximum value from their frameworks. If you would like to discuss any of the subjects covered in this article then please do get in touch.