Help-sheet: conducting competency based performance reviews

Who is it for?

HR practitioners, Operation and Office managers with HR responsibilities, Line managers 

What will you get?

Guidance on using the Professional Map to conduct competency-based performance reviews 

Why do you need it?

Competency-based performance reviews provide an objective method for assessing behaviours and identify development areas 

When does it apply?

During the performance management cycle 

What is this help sheet for?  

Employee performance can be measured by assessing a combination of: 

  • The what: has the employee delivered the defined objectives of the role?  
  • The how: has the employee demonstrated the behaviours required to deliver the objectives of the role? 

Challenges usually arise in articulating ‘the how’, as it may be difficult for managers to accurately communicate the behavioural expectations of a role and for employees to describe the behaviours they have demonstrated over the period being assessed.   

The Professional Map can aid you during the performance review process by providing a common language around the behaviours expected at different experience levels. 


What are competency-based performance reviews?

Competency-based performance reviews look at how an employee's actions, skills and attitudes (behavioural competencies) have led to either meeting or missing defined objectives, so you can gain an understanding of where an employee stands at present and what additional behaviours they should develop for future success.  

What are the benefits using the Professional Map to underpin your organisational approach to performance management?

  • Enables a shared understanding of the expected level of performance of the role 
  • Enables self-reflection of those being evaluated regarding their current capability  
  • Enables managers to facilitate structured and consistent performance reviews  
  • Provides a common language to articulate feedback around desired performance 
  • It removes the ambiguity around generic terminology commonly used when describing skills (e.g. communication skills) 
  • Enables both managers and individuals to co-create actionable development plans to foster positive changes in behaviour where required  
  • Supports a culture that equally values technical expertise and behaviours    
  • Provides a framework for benchmarking roles whose performance is harder to quantify through transactional metrics  
  • Improves inclusion by focusing on relevant skills and behaviours in action, mitigating against pre-conceived ideas of who the ‘talent’ is, which may favour extroversion or people whose approach mirrors a manager’s own 


It’s important to have a shared understanding of the objectives and critical competencies required for the role, described in an up-to-date job description and person specification, as well as in the personal goals of the employee 

To learn how you can use the Professional Map to develop a job description and person specification that will support more effective competency-based performance reviews please refer to the Designing a role help sheet.

STEP 1 – Identify to which band the role you are reviewing most likely alings

The Professional Map is structured into 4 bands of experience, each describing the different level of impact professionals have in the work they do. Learn more >>

Consider which of the four bands the role most closely aligns to. If you were reviewing a Claims Manager role whose purpose is oversee the processing of complex claims, you will likely map the role against Band 3 standards. If you were reviewing a junior Financial Adviser you would likely map the role against Band 2 standards. 

Read the behaviours, enablers, and technical expertise (where relevant) at the band identified, but also explore whether there are standards within different bands that would also be critical, as roles will not always fall perfectly within a specific band.

STEP 2 – Collect the evidence around the current capability of the employee

The first step in a competency-based performance review is for a the individual to conduct a self-assessment. There are many ways in which this can be done, including: 

  • Using the CII’s self-assessment tool which allows the employee to self-assess their current capabilities against the standards set within a specific band. This option is ideal for roles aligned primarily with a single band.  
  • Using a bespoke form that identifies the critical competencies required for the role across multiple bands. This option may be suitable if the role doesn’t align primarily with one band. Use this template to create your own.  

You may consider completing using the same tools used by your direct report to identify where there might be differences between your assessment and the self-assessment of the employee, and have a meaningful discussion around these differences. 

Organisations with multiple roles of similar nature can use the Professional Map to inform role-based performance-review templates for job families that will support consistent and evidence-based performance management. 

STEP 3 – Provide feedback

Provide feedback focusing on the behaviours, referring to the language used in the Professional Map, and explain how the behaviours tie back to the successful execution of their goals. This type of review aims to link goals and competencies in a clear, transparent way.  

STEP 4 – Co-create objectives for upcoming period

Write objectives which are a combination of behavioural and task-based using the competency standards as a measure. 

STEP 5 – Identify development areas and outline next-steps

Use the outputs of the above steps to identify development needs and agree on the actions that need to be taken to build a personal development plan. Use this template to create it.  

Where to next?

Explore the Map

Explore the technical expertise and behaviours at the core of what it means to be a well-rounded professional.


Download the Map

Download the Map and explore the standards in full. 


Find learning

Find the learning you need to meet the development goals of your teams.



Everything you need to know about the Professional Map and how it applies to you and your firm.