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Understanding competency and its importance in successful deployment of risk management frameworks

Most organisations have some kind of competency framework for ensuring their staff are effective. Many use training as proof of competency or have set a benchmark of how competent people need to be.


At ABM Risk Partnership, we see the missing piece at many organisations as defining what it actually means to be competent.


It is way more than just a complete training record. We use a combination of knowledge, skills, experience and attitudes or behaviours for defining competency. Attitude and behaviours are vital components. People can be trained and fully understand when and how to wear protective equipment but may choose not to, for example.


Similarly, being 90% competent may sound impressive, but if the remaining 10% is crucial to preventing a major business disruption, then it is not acceptable:

  • Not many people would choose to fly with a pilot who was missing a mastery level in landings but was great at take-offs

  • If a plane's hydraulic system fails due to a not-yet competent status within the maintenance function the plane is going to have trouble, no matter how skilled the pilot

  • How do you think your clients / customers / business partners would feel if it were your organisation quoting a less than 100% competency rate?

Ensuring competency is vital when it comes to the risk function and risk context. Building a risk management framework and deploying/sustaining it are two entirely different projects. Often the temptation is just to focus on the framework itself.

Having implemented successful competency programs for major organisations in several countries, I have found the best approach is to:

  • Develop detailed competency maps where each risk skill set is allocated to specific job roles

  • This competency framework is matched to the specific organisational environment

  • Targeted learning support is given to ensure the right people are proficient in the right skills

The comprehensive framework should have detailed competency sets that cover all aspects of enterprise risk management. Each and every skill that is required is broken out in detail for each competency and assigned to four levels - awareness, developing, skilled and mastery.


These are able to be assigned to different job roles, ensuring only the appropriate levels of competency are prescribed for each. The approach delivers a more accessible, visible and easier competency allocation process. With its clear risk focus, this work also complements any existing organisational competency programs.


The outcome of an effective competency program is that everyone in the organisation knows their role in the risk management framework, the Chief Risk Offer is confident that each team member has the necessary skills required and, most importantly, the organisation is better at meeting its objectives and maximising opportunities.


If you'd like an insight into how a detailed risk competency approach could benefit your organisation, give us a call for a free strategy diagnostic.


Give us a call for a free strategy diagnostic.

(Photo credit: fran hogan on Unsplash)

ABM Risk Partnership