Once you've decided which positions you're going to include within your framework, (see Part One of this series), the next stage is to work out which skills your team requires.

Choosing the skills for the framework is probably the most important part of the process.

Why? The skills that you include (and importantly, the ones you exclude):

  • are one of the truest displays of what values your organisation stands for and values in its employees

  • define what's unique and most important about each of your team's roles

  • highlights what they need to develop in order to progress within the organisation

However, to complicate matters, until you start using the framework you'll never know if you've got it right. So make choosing your skills a thorough process involving your team, but don't get lost seeking perfection. Frameworks should be an ongoing product not a one-off project.

There are so many possible skills available to choose between, that before we start, we need to narrow the scope of the task.

Start by deciding on a guideline maximum number of skills for a framework.

This is vital. If you embark on this exercise without a maximum number of skills, you will end up with an impenetrable and unusable framework.

There are hundreds of skills that we all use in our day to day jobs. Limiting the number of skills in your framework to 8-12 is the best thing you can do to help both the build process, and the levels of engagement with framework once you roll it out.

Check out How many skills should I have in my framework? for a more detailed look at this.

Second, establish if you are looking for a full spectrum of skills, or just for a specific category.

Most frameworks contain both domain specific skills (sometimes known as craft skills), and cross-team skills (core/human/soft/leadership skills). There are some teams who only want to focus on craft skills, and other organisations who only produce non-specific frameworks designed to be the same for all teams.

Decide which categories you're conducting this exercise to include.

Check out What’s the purpose of skill categories and how might they help me, for more.

With the scope successfully narrowed and categories allocated, we can decide which skills to include.

The complexity here is not coming up with skills - you'll be able to name far more skills than you can include - but in defining which to include in the framework, which to leave out, and which to redefine.

First, working with your team, write down all the skills you'd like to include, or that you think are important. Be comprehensive:

  • encourage your team to research best practices based on industry standards

  • look at the skills of the people they admire in the team, or those who are considered high performers

  • think about it from first principles - how would they define the skills they use day to day?

  • are there skills your business requires all teams to have?

Second, separate these skills into your categories.

Next, start refining. You should have a rough guide as to how many skills per category you want (from our narrowing of the scope). Don't panic if this feels daunting. There are a number of ways to narrow the number down and get to what you need.

Working a category at a time, rank your skills by importance. Look at the bottom of the list. Think about:

  • What skills, if someone didn't have them, would mean they weren't doing their job? Could you start supporting someone's progression without them?

  • If you had a conversation about the skills higher in the list, would you naturally talk about those anyway?

  • Are there skills you could combine? For example, could 'Relationship building' be deleted, because it's a natural sub-skill to 'Negotiating'?

  • If you zoom out on your skills thinking about them as broader behaviours, does that help combine/simplify?

Continue to bear in mind we're not seeking comprehensiveness. We're seeking efficient progression conversations, and manageable skills development for your team.

The worst mistake you can make is making your framework too big. So stick to your guns on maximum number of skills in version 1, start using the framework, and if something crucial is missing, it'll become apparent. If it doesn't become apparent, then it wasn't crucial...

Remember. Your framework will change, you're only looking for a first version.

You have categories and the skills you're going to include. Finally you need to write or acquire the skill content.

There are two options

Writing them takes time. It's the step that turns this from a 4 week into a 4 month project. At Progression we don't believe in perfect frameworks... So we don't believe in perfect skills either. Getting started using the frameworks should be the aim, so we recommend acquiring the skills elsewhere and adapting them over time.

The skills section of the framework is the section that takes 75%+ of the time. If you've got this far, congratulations! There's just one job now to do, we need to decide what level of each skill is required for each role in your framework. Part 3. Mapping skill requirements to positions.

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