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Moving to Competency-Based Development Planning
Moving to Competency-Based Development Planning

Guidance on how to create development plans based on competencies.

Ashlee Hitchcock avatar
Written by Ashlee Hitchcock
Updated over a week ago

What can I learn from this page?

An update on moving to competency-based development planning

Who is this page for?

Performance Admin, Managers


Starting from January 30, 2024, all new development plans in the Culture Amp platform will be based on competencies instead of skills. This represents a significant improvement in development planning. It will enable organizational leaders to align individual development plans more closely with valued competencies and connect employees to relevant learning resources.

From March 31st, 2024, employees will also be able to add roles to their development plan from our Career Paths feature. This will allow them to select the competencies linked to those roles and add strengths and growth areas to their development plan.

Key dates:

  • Starting October 2 2023, Culture Amp admins can pre-configure the base competency groups that will be shown in development planning.

  • From January 30 2024, development plans in the Culture Amp platform will be based on competencies instead of skills..

  • Starting March 31st 2024, setting the visibility status of a job group within Career Paths to "everyone" will enable employees to search and add roles from that job group to their development plan. This will allow them to select the competencies linked to those roles and add strengths and growth areas to their development plan.

**Please note that the provided dates are based on the US timezone

User experience: Competency-based development plans

There are six main steps in the process of creating a development plan. Three of these steps will be updated: selecting strengths, identifying growth areas, and defining goals.

Selecting strengths

In the "know yourself" section of the development plan creation, you'll be prompted to choose at least one competency as a strength. Every competency offers a "details" option to learn more about it. This "details" section provides both an overall description of the competency, information on competency levels, and learning resources.

In the subsequent step, you have the option to add more strengths in free text form.

Culture Amp offers nine ready-made competencies that will be the default options for employees unless account administrators make changes.

πŸ’‘ Tip: Get set up fast with default competencies and ready-made templates.

πŸ“˜ Access πŸ‘‰ Ready-made competency templates that have been curated by Culture Amp's people science team. The downloadable resources include over 100 competencies linked to 12 common job groups ranging from "People and Culture" through to "Sales" and "Engineering". You can use these competencies as is or as a starting point when defining expectations for specific roles. Once you have refined and confirmed the competency sets you will use for your organization, you can simply copy and paste the content into Career Paths.

Account administrators have the ability to add, remove, or edit competencies. They can also create additional competency groups. For more details on customizing competency groups, refer to the admin configuration section below.

Selecting growth areas

In the build your plan section of the development plan creation, you'll be prompted to choose at least one competency as a growth area. As in the selection of strengths, each competency provides a "details" option for more information about it.

Creating goals

In the build your plan section of the development plan creation, you'll be prompted to set at least one goal based on a chosen growth area.

Similar to selecting strengths and growth areas, you can view detailed information about each competency, including linked learning resources. This will assist you in planning actions for your goal.

Culture Amp's nine ready-made competencies include links to playbook ideas, Skills Coach courses, and People Science curated courses provided by Go1. Account Admins can customize these learning resources.

Adding a role to a development plan

If your organization has set at least one job group from Career Paths to be visible to "everyone," you'll have the option to add a role to your development plan during the selection of strengths or growth areas.

Once a role is incorporated into your development plan, you can view the competencies associated with that role and choose them as strengths or growth areas. Employees wishing to develop within their current role should add that specific role. However, those aiming for a different or more advanced role should add their desired role to their plan.

You have the option to include multiple roles in your development plan. To browse all available roles, click on the Career Paths view.

Admin experience

Culture Amp admins can tailor the development planning experience for their organization by adjusting competency groups and roles in Career Paths.

Configuring general competencies

General competencies will be visible to all employees during development plan creation. They can be accessed from within Career Paths or through the edit competencies button in development plans.

By default, development plans will display Culture Amp's nine ready-made competencies. These come with links to relevant playbook ideas, Skills Coach courses, and People Science curated courses provided by Go1. Admins have the option to add, remove, or edit competencies and can also introduce additional competency groups to organize general competencies

Configuring competencies linked to roles

To further tailor development planning for employees, Admins can adjust roles and competencies within Career Paths.

When a job group is set to "visible to everyone," employees can choose to add that role to their development plan.

For more guidance visit the Development Plans course in Culture Amp Training

Viewing competencies in the development planning report

The "top strengths and growth areas" section of the development planning report will now feature competencies. It will display the total number of employees who identified a specific competency as either a strength or a growth area.

Each competency will also come with information about its type, indicating either "shared competency" or the title of the job group for competencies specific to that group.

Applying filters to the page offers insights into the priorities of various employees in your organization. For example, a Sales leader can filter the insights report by their department to determine which training programs to implement.

πŸ“˜ Read the development planning report overview for more information.


Do I need to set up Career Paths with role-specific competencies before rolling out development planning?

No. We know it's not feasible to define a specific set of competencies for every role in your organization. That's why we recommend that customers begin by defining a general set of competencies that are applicable to all roles. That general set of competencies can be set up as a competency group within the platform. Out of the box we have 9 ready-made competencies curated by our people science team - so you're set to go from day 1.

Why base development planning on competencies rather than skills?

  • Clear link to career progress. When development planning ties directly to career paths, employees are more motivated and engaged.

  • Clear link to learning resources. Customers can directly associate resources with competencies, ensuring timely access to relevant learning materials for employees.

  • More impactful feedback. This model emphasizes discipline-specific competencies, leading to more precise and actionable feedback.

  • Richer aggregate insights. With discipline-specific competencies, customers gain a clearer understanding of strengths and growth areas in particular departments, like engineering or sales.

  • Easier to manage. The realm of skills is vast and ever-changing. Creating a comprehensive skill library is impractical as it quickly becomes obsolete. Competencies, however, are more lasting and versatile.

  • Easier to spot trends. Using broader competencies over skills lets customers identify common growth areas among employees. This allows for training tailored to specific competencies.

  • Easier to coordinate large initiatives. Competency frameworks enable leaders to influence behavior on a large scale. Instead of focusing on granular skills, leaders often prioritize overarching competencies such as "decisiveness" or "customer centricity."

  • More meaningful development. When employees express a desire to improve specific skills, like writing better emails, it often stems from a broader competency need, such as effective communication. For instance, as teams expand, the demand for stronger communication skills grows. While mastering email is the current need, the overarching competency of effective communication provides lasting value and adaptability across different platforms and scenarios.

What is the conceptual distinction between competencies and skills?

Skills are tactical, such as being able to write a basic software program, use HTML, or construct a financial model in a spreadsheet. Competencies, on the other hand, go beyond just skills. They encompass one's ability to effectively utilize a specific set of skills.

What distinguishes competencies from skills within the Develop module (i.e., on the platform)?

Competencies can be linked to roles.

Within Career Paths, you can structure your organization based on job groups, career tracks, and roles. Competencies can be associated with specific roles within this structure, offering several benefits:

  • Employees can access the most relevant learning content when needed. For instance, as a product manager reflecting on growth areas, I can view competencies pertinent to product management.

  • Function leaders can set clear expectations for individual roles, aligning development planning with their intended outcomes and facilitating large-scale people development.

  • Employees can receive more precise feedback. We've learned from numerous user interviews that employees often lament the lack of detailed feedback. However, we've observed that individuals give more specific feedback when they have role competencies for reference.

  • Associating development plans with role-specific competencies provides function leaders with more actionable, aggregated data.

Competencies can have levels of proficiency.

Competencies transcend skills in that they encompass predefined proficiency levels. This distinction is vital for several reasons:

  • Many employees aim to progress to more senior roles but are unclear on how to do so. When used effectively, competency frameworks can offer that clarity. For example, the competency of communication changes dramatically between junior and senior roles (because your audience changes from individuals to larger groups). Understanding how the competency changes provides a clear development path.

  • What’s required to develop a core competency changes at different levels of proficiency. Leveled competencies allow for the possibility of more targeted development recommendations.

How can I continue using the previous core skills set within development planning?

We suggest that customers transition to Culture Amp's ready-made competencies instead of the former core skills and core leadership skills set.

However, for those customers who prefer the former core and leadership skill sets, you can upload those skills as competencies with a single competency level (following the example below).

Are competencies compatible with skills in other sections of the platform, such as Skills Coach?

Specific skills are encompassed within competencies, allowing us to associate skill-based content with more expansive competencies. For instance, we've connected the following Skills Coach courses to the communication competency:

  • Meeting Mastery

  • Feedback

  • Coaching

Indeed, since competencies are more comprehensive, creating such linkages becomes more straightforward.

Will I lose historical data from skill-based development plans?

No, you will still be able to view this data alongside the data from competency-based development plans.

Can employees continue to edit their skill-based development plans?

Yes, they can, until those plans are eventually closed.

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