First things first; what exactly is a Competency Framework?
According to the UK’s GOV website Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours that lead to successful performance and the competency framework is used for recruitment, performance management and development discussions.
This framework has been effective in government departments since 2013, so every person employed and promoted within government departments have been given their jobs based on how they engage with this framework.
And “engage” is certainly the correct word to use here.
Recently where I work a new wrinkle has been brought into this framework, where I originally had to write an end of year review I also now have to spread this review thru ought the whole year; basically writing 10 or so mini-reviews that will be used to inform the complete review at the end of the financial year.
Even though this “wrinkle” has been introduced there has been no information regarding why it has been introduced. In spite of the fact that this substantially changes the way I deal with the yearly review process, and therefore the way I deal with my work itself, it has been deemed by my superiors that I need not know anything concerning their reasoning.
I therefore have to assume that this new “wrinkle” is an attempt to combat the average to low scores the review process seems to produce with many employees. (Employees who, may I add, tackle their work with no issues and sometimes clear a staggering amount of it in the process.)
At this point I have to reveal that for the last few years I have received a grade 1 in my end of year review which is the highest score. I say this not to blow my own trumpet but rather to illustrate how this is actually a detrimental change in my work pattern.
Even though I have received the highest score I must still change my routine regarding the yearly reviews, as well as my workload itself in order to accommodate the changes. My colleagues, some of which are less IT minded than myself, must also change their work routine and therefore must retrain in order to receive a higher end of year score. This in turn means that I must accommodate their changes, not to mention…
Well, I could go on, but I believe you already see my point.
With all this change and the added pressures of dealing with this alteration to an already unpopular system it simply makes the working day more difficult; and ultimately its all for nought as I was already received the highest end of year grade I could get anyway.
And all this is based on these obscure things called “competencies” and our “engagement” with them.
So how do you think this will affect my own engagement with the system?
Simply put there’s little reason for me to engage in the system anymore as the process simply isn’t cost-effective for me, and if I do engage it will be based mainly on how much passive aggressive bullying the management unloads over me in the coming year.
This, unfortunately, is the process as it stands and I had a moment of utter morbid panic in my review this month when someone said to me that all jobs were now dealt with in this way. If this is true then it explains a great deal concerning England’s inability to compete in the modern world.
When meritocracy disappears, when the best person for a job is looked over in favour of someone who fits other criteria, it is clear that the work produced will be of a lesser standard.
To put it simply, without meritocracy you get mediocrity.
My question to this would then be; what is the real purpose of using a Competency Framework?
It is not to ensure the best staff for a project; this is demonstratively untrue because time and effort are put into gaining the correct competencies that obviously should be put into the work itself. Many people who I have worked alongside that I would consider the best care little for “the system” or climbing any ladder within said system; they care about being useful, the weekly pay and little else.
So who would care about a system like the Competency Framework, and who does it most serve?
It seems clear to me that it serves those who wish to talk the talk without having to walk the walk. In some cases it serves those people who even incapable of walking the walk.
It is a simple thing, given the time and the ability to research, to write a convincing article arguing how a person can perform brain surgery; but it is a far cry from actually performing it yourself.
Rather than asking someone to write an essay regarding a piece of work, why not put them at a desk with that work in front of them, and see how they do?