Competency Mapping

Identifying skills required by an organization, needed for it to succeed, is a fundamental building block of an effective business.

However, gathering these and associated behaviors can be challenging (whether you are trying to understand the number of competencies or their importance).

Competency Mapping can help us with this task in several ways:

  • Identifying skills
  • Identifying knowledge
  • Identifying abilities 
  • Identifying behaviors

The gathered information can then be analysed to determine what is required to succeed in a specific function or job role. Rolled up into competency maps, the use of this data can then be further extended and used within Human Resources processes.

In this article, we’ll be looking at Competency mapping in detail to understand what it is and how a business can utilize it. We’ll be looking to cover:

What is Competency Mapping

As we described in the introduction, competency mapping is a process that helps organization capture and map competencies within an organization that then allows them to be used within HR processes such as:

  • Recruitment
  • Training
  • Evaluation
  • etc

Competency mapping helps an organization distinguish the strengths and weaknesses of individual employees.

The result of this is that the organization can focus development efforts helping both the organization and the individual achieve applicable goals.

With clear benefits, all organizations should have defined roles associated with a list of competencies required to perform the role effectively. 

What is a competency?

Wikipedia defines competency as: ” the set of demonstrable characteristics and skills that enable, and improve the efficiency or performance of a job. “

Let’s look at an example:

Bill works in Supply Chain as a Buyer. He’s great at his role and knows the way around the computer system and the associated buying processes to function effectively.  

One of his key competencies is communication; he’s very effective at it. He uses this skill to share information and interact with stakeholders. This delivers clear benefits to stakeholders; they know where Bill is at with his tasks and what risks/issues are likely to crop up, driving efficiency within the plant.

So competencies are not just knowledge but also skills. Knowing both what to do and how to do it.

The trouble is that a significant quantity of employers only understands those skills associated with the role or listed in the job description.

There can be a vast number of competencies.  This article at Health & Safety Matters explains a framework of 69 competencies within a business.  This article at SHL describes 110 Competencies within a competency framework.

So competency mapping (matches competencies with the job role and/or organization) can be challenging without some planning and thought. 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently released a fact sheet defining 7 core competencies that form career readiness:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving.
  • Oral/Written Communications.
  • Teamwork/Collaboration.
  • Information Technology Application.
  • Leadership.
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic.
  • Career Management.

The key problem for most businesses is that tracking the skills of employees within the organization can present a serious challenge.

How to do competency mapping

The first consideration is that competency mapping is a repeatable procedure centered on gaining an understanding of the competencies of employees within an organization, specifically identifying:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Capabilities
  • Behavior

Professors Sharma and Khanna identified a repeatable 8 step process (

1. Identify the department for mapping.

2. Identify the Structure of the organization and select the grades & levels.

3. Obtain Job Description from individuals and departments.

4. Conduct interviews.

5. Collecting interview data.

6. Classify the required Skill list.

7. Identify the skill levels.

8. Evaluate identified competencies and skill levels with immediate superiors and other heads of concerned departments. 

This 8 step process is also associated with a further two actions:

9. Preparation of Competency calendar.

10. Mapping of Competencies.

Steps 6, 7, and 8 imply that there is a process within the business that has defined and classified both competencies (functional/behavioral) and skill levels (what is poor/strong). Without this, we will be unable to evaluate the results gathered.

Common tools used in competency mapping

Most organizations will use a set of common tools that assist with the task of competency mapping; these are:

  1. Interviewing Employees
  2. Surveys
  3. Questionnaires
  4. Psychometric tests
  5. Assessment center process (an assessment process where candidates are assessed within a group, at the same time and location)
  6. Critical Incidents technique. (

We’ve mapped competencies; what next?

As we described earlier in the article, the information generated from competency mapping can be used within several Human Resources processes.   

These process can be far-reaching, and it’s likely we all come across several of these in our day to day work, and they include:


Using the results of competency mapping, we can conduct competency-based interviews with prospective candidates. The result of this is that we increase our chances of hiring the most appropriate resources. 

Job Evaluation

Through utilizing competency mapping results, we are able to improve job evaluations, which can lead to improved allocation of resources (utilizing those who meet the criteria).

Performance Management

Competency mapping helps highlight desired proficiencies for roles. It enables Human Resources functions to examine current proficiency levels versus performance, highlighting gaps and enabling appropriate action to be taken (such as establishing training or creating a development plan).

Succession Planning

Succession planning can be challenging for organizations; by examining leadership competencies, potential leaders can be identified within the organization allowing for a clear plan. 


Competency mapping can help in a large number of people management processes, and it’s value should not be underestimated.

As well as informing these processes, it can help shorten the activities by promoting informed decision making based on facts, not guesswork.

As a result, the Competency Framework should be a necessity for all organizations, with everyone within the organization (not just HR) seeing it’s many benefits.

Have you used competency mapping in your organization? Have some experiences/tips you’d like to share? We always welcome feedback; you can reach out to us on Twitter or utilize the comments section below.

This article is part of our Human Resources Guide.