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The Ultimate Competency Development Plan: 7 Steps to Unlocking Organizational Effectiveness.

Savvy leaders know that talent management is an integral component of an organization’s success. According to Bersin and Associates’ 2007 High Impact Talent Management report, talent management is “a set of organizational processes designed to attract, manage, develop, motivate and retain key people to create a highly responsive, high-performance sustainable organization that meets its business targets.” If you’re interested in sharpening the skills of existing staff, decreasing workforce frustration and building better teams through various learning solutions, creating a competency development plan is right for you.

how to create a competency development plan

Why Have a Competency Development Plan?


If your organization aims to improve the quality of your core competencies, your bottom line, and employee retention, creating a competency development plan is an essential course of action. Not only does a competency development plan seek to bridge workforce skills gaps, it also aims to align employee training with corporate goals as well as train all employees for necessary compliance and certifications. A competency development plan can also aid in developing existing employee skills for retirement or succession, setting up employees to have a vision for their career path and a trajectory for success.

Steps for Creating a Competency Development Plan


1. Agree on Your Company’s Core Competencies

For your organization to create a competency development plan, you must first establish your core competencies. This is your harmonized combination of resources and skills that distinguish you in the marketplace. If your existing resources and skills don’t reflect the organization’s long-term goals, or if you’re planning on shifting direction in terms of your mission and vision, this is a discussion that needs to be had by leadership prior to implementing a competency development plan. If you’re unsure of your organization’s current mission or core competencies, address it first.

2. Identify Competencies to Develop

Once you agree on your organization’s core competencies you can begin creating a competency development plan. Start by identifying skill gaps and decide which competencies should be developed within your organization. How do you determine what competencies are needed to carry out each job and which ones your staff needs to improve on? Here are some ways to do that:


Survey all managers and staff. If it’s possible to attain all competencies attributed to each job type through a self-evaluation, that’s a huge time saver. However, if your organization is more complex, face-to-face meetings may be in order.


Meet with all managers and staff individually or in small groups. This is a great way to really get to know your workforce as well as what it takes to complete the tasks assigned to each job type.

Seminars or Workshops

Have a company-wide seminar and/or a series of workshops. For larger organizations or organizations that don’t have the means to meet with all staff individually, a facilitation and workshop may be the solution. A seminar plus a workshop allows everyone in the organization to understand the changes that you’re trying to enact and why, and then staff can break into their teams to plan for how to meet those goals.

Outside Consultant

Use an outside consultant. For organizations that aren’t sure, hiring an outside consultant may be the best course of action.


Every organization is different. To best understand your workforce, you may require a mixture of the suggestions above or even something different and specific to your needs.

align company goals

3. Align Competency Development Initiatives With Company Goals

Once you identify which competencies need improvement, it’s time to take action. Remember to make decisions about competency development with your company goals in mind. Then create and share a plan company-wide that emphasizes consistency:

  • Bridge skills gaps by creating timelines for each team or individual which include continued training, certifications and/or learning.
  • Outline leadership’s role and teach managers how to motivate staff.
  • For key staff who you intend to incorporate in succession planning, let them know your goals and make sure you’re all on the same page.
  • Share best practices company-wide. Plan for initial weekly meetings, then monthly meetings, quarterly meetings, etc.

4. Agree on Competency Management Techniques

For those in leadership positions, one important key to progressing with an overall competency management program is having effective competency management techniques to follow. Consider how best to introduce techniques and set goals that teams are accountable for so that everyone is involved. Make this process easy for your company’s leaders by creating guidelines for bridging skills gaps, employee assessments, training strategies, individual career development planning, and more.

5. Begin Skills Development Activities

Your organization is only as effective as the core competencies you have. Your core competencies are only as strong as your employees’ skill sets. Bridging skills gaps and strengthening existing skills are important steps toward a strong competency management plan.

Some examples of skills development techniques include:

  • E-learning
  • Training
  • Certifications
  • Workshops
  • Facilitations
  • Coaching

In order to be successful in your skills development efforts, you need to have company-wide buy-in. Both leadership and staff need to be motivated to commit time and energy to skills development as well as give feedback for improvement.

Implementing competency management systems should be viewed by employees as enabling them to acquire the right skills, or be selected based on their talents. Users should be motivated to engage in skills development and apply their newfound competencies on the job.

6. Career Development and Succession Planning

In addition to skills development, a robust competency management plan also includes career development and succession planning. These efforts are essential to new talent acquisition and employee retention.

  • Focus on individual career paths. Whether it’s through e-learning, certifications, training, workshops, or other continued learning avenues, focusing on honing the skills needed for employees to advance should be a high priority.
  • Succession planning initiatives. Communicate with employees and let them know that you’re considering them to take over key leadership roles in the near future. The more preparation time, the better.

7. Understand and Evaluate Processes

Once the foundational elements of a competency development program are in place, assess what worked and what didn’t. Collect feedback from staff and collaborate to make the program even better. By evaluating your plan frequently, you can make the best use of you and your employees’ time.

A Sustainable Competency Development Plan

With these seven steps, your organization can create a sustainable competency development program which will allow you to gain a more valuable workforce through sharpening key skillsets and increased employee retention. For an even more organized and streamlined competency development plan, learn more about Avilar’s skills management software or contact us to schedule a demo.


This post was originally published March 9, 2016 and has been updated to reflect current industry information.


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