Comparisons, Competency Frameworks and Performance 

by Rici van Schalkwyk | October 18, 2022

Every flower has its own scent – African Proverb

Performance management and the measurement thereof, are often synonymous with competency frameworks and key performance indicators (KPI’s).
What started as a noble concept of supporting managers and leaders in developing people to better performance, was turned into a system of judgement and comparison.

Judgement and comparison cannot cultivate sustainable growth and innovation.

The word competency framework consists of two main ideas:

  • Competency – the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.
  • Framework – a basic or supporting structure underlying a system or concept.

Performance development needs both, but not at the expense of unique abilities and strengths that each employee brings. Most performance management processes are based on comparing employees and then rating them as if they are supposed to be the same. This is unrealistic and detrimental to everyone involved. No two people are the same, regardless of circumstances.

I grew up with two siblings. We had the same parents and the same influencing environment growing up. Yet we are vastly different from one another. We developed and succeeded in different ways. Comparing us will invariably lead to conflict, unhappiness, and disappointment. Not conducive to a happy environment for family holidays!

Why do we therefore think that comparing employees in performance management will lead to anything different?

“Comparison will cause you to feel prideful or depressed but never fulfilled.” – Lisa Bevere

Performance measurement by comparing an employee to a set of competencies and other employees limits performance and growth to the subjective interpretation of everyone involved.

This creates a culture of mistrust, conflict, poor teamwork, and a few top performing individuals. Valuable energy and time are wasted on this process without adding any real value to the business or the employees. Time and energy that is crucial to working towards the business’s vision and goals.

For a performance management process to add real value, the process must recognise, cultivate, and nurture growth uniquely and individually.

“Comparison kills creativity and joy.” – Dr Brene Brown

Whether it is a business or an individual, creativity and joy are essential elements to high performance and sustainable growth.

With change as the only constant, businesses must consistently be distinguishable and relevant to market needs in order to be successful. This requires constant innovation. Innovation is not possible without creativity.

Innovation is defined as a new idea, method, or device; or the introduction of something new.1
Not radically new or big new, just new.
In the same way, creativity is not limited to a few very special individuals. It just develops differently for everyone based on the individual’s interests and strengths.

Value-adding Performance Management

Businesses need performance management that develops their most valuable resource, people, individually. As the employees develop the business will grow and prosper.

The best way to grow and develop is to build on talents that the individual already has. When these talents are developed into strengths and the individual gets to use these strengths daily; the results are higher performance and an increase in productivity and energy.

Implementing a performance management process that combines developing these strengths with a values-based coaching approach provides the foundation for sustainable and distinguishable growth.

Base KPI’s on the development of the employee’s strengths and the goals of the business. This aligns the employee with the vision and purpose of the business and the employee’s value in this purpose.

The regular positive interaction between the leader or manager and employees builds a deeper understanding of each other and the business.

Time and energy are now focused on growth and development rather than judgment, ranking and comparison.

At wauperform we believe in strength-based performance management with Gallup Strengthsfinder2as our basis. We will gladly assist you with the process. Contact Dale Petersen on 021 819 7802 or at to connect with us.


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