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The TaxCompeu (EU Competency Framework for Taxation)

As a standardised approach to training and performance development, the TaxCompeu aims to connect all Human Resources (HR) processes under a uniform, tax-specific, competency-based methodology and toolset. As such, it has the potential to constitute the backbone of national HR practices as well as a common language for Member States (MS) and the European Union (EU) as they seek to provide prime public-sector services across the EU through a better trained, more efficient tax workforce. The expected benefits of such a shared approach will benefit both people and performance management.

In addition to the above, the design and future implementation of the TaxCompeu provides an excellent opportunity to create an extended network of exchange and cross-border synergies among national Tax Administrations, and between the Tax and Customs functions, both nationally and at EU level.

Developing the TaxCompeu

Work to develop the TaxCompeu ran from January 2017 to July 2019, solidly demonstrating the EU’s commitment to provide strategic direction and support the modernisation of the public sector. The new EU competency-based management system is here to establish state-of-the-art people management practices.

Part of the Fiscalis 2020 Programme, and mirroring the development and implementation support cycles developed for the CustCompeu, the project has brought together a set of methodologies and tools designed specifically for the EU Tax domain. The aim is to place tax-specific competency areas at the core of HR management within all tax organisations and provide a standardised approach to EU Tax HR management. As such, the TaxCompeu constitutes a training and performance management blueprint for improved and harmonised performance of tax employees across the EU.

Previous work on the development and implementation of the CustCompeu has underscored the significant benefits of establishing an effective, uniform and transparent approach to learning and performance management across Europe’s public sector HR practices. The TaxCompeu extends these benefits to the EU Tax community by providing a TaxCompeu toolbox that is both relevant and flexible. It is intended to help Tax Administrations fulfil the public’s diverging needs and expectations, and to provide prime public sector services.

Spurred on by the vision of placing the focus on people and the future, the development of the TaxCompeu was based on a number of inputs from various sources. These included extensive tax-specific research, input from international resources such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrations (IOTA), training materials and plans from various national Administrations, existing national competency frameworks, best practices and lessons learned from the development of the CustCompeu and others. This was done to ensure the TaxCompeu content is up-to-date, relevant and well-balanced. Work on the development of the TaxCompeu was organised into four workstreams.

The final TaxCompeu content was co-created with the help and support of a highly-efficient expert project group (PG) comprised of representatives from 11 MS (Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Spain). Through its combined processes, the PG ensured that national legal provisions, national tax practices and experience in the application of competency-based HR methodologies is well represented within the framework. The PG met for a total of five workshops during which members reviewed, commented, updated and compared TaxCompeu draft content with existing national expertise and practices. Project group work followed a structured methodology involving the division of work in meaningful steps, national feedback review and implementation, submission of post-workshop assignments, reaching of group decisions, finalisation of major deliverables, national testing and validation of key components of the framework. These actions were carried out to secure overall quality, tax relevance, flexibility and a good fit of the framework at both EU and national levels.

The TaxCompeu is intended to be a living, future-oriented document, aimed at setting the optimal standards for taxation in the EU and as such become the blueprint for strategic HR people management practices. During implementation support initiatives driven by the EU, MS will have the opportunity and support to adapt it to their own national structure and methodologies and decide on its specific use.

This page has been created to keep this vibrant community of EU Tax and Customs people alive and educate all interested parties. Here you can be informed about the TaxCompeu purpose and vision, its different components, as well as the roadmap to development.

The TaxCompeu vision

Competency-based HR management is the bridge between HR management and an organisation’s overall strategic plan. Competencies can be defined as ‘observable knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for successful job performance’. A competency framework defines the knowledge, skills and attributes required in each role to perform the job effectively.

Drawing on similar work undertaken for the CustCompeu, the development of the TaxCompeu comprises a twin set of tools based on the same easy-to-follow methodology as used for Customs, but different in technical content specifically designed for the EU Tax function. This way, the process of developing the TaxCompeu has benefitted from the wealth of experience built up by the CustCompeuwhile treating significant tax particularities in a way that creates a relevant, suitable fit for the tax discipline.

More importantly, however, the twin CustCompeu and TaxCompeu will become our common language. It will allow for national practices and needs to be translated into one common European competency-based approach to people learning and performance management, with a clear focus on the people and the future.

A tailored methodology has been used throughout the design of the model, founded on the following principles:

  • a bottom-up approach, making use of the wealth of HR tools and information available at national level;
  • strong linkages with the CustCompeu, in which outputs and lessons learned (the Knowledge Reserve) formed the basis on which to build the TaxCompeu;
  • cross-country, cross-discipline collaboration among experts from both Tax and Customs communities, driven by a highly-skilled tax Project Group of country experts to facilitate, test and validate the outputs of every step of the process;
  • collaboration with a team of seasoned change management and tax experts who guided the process of design and development.

How can national Tax Administrations benefit from the use of the TaxCompeu?

The integration of the TaxCompeu into national HR practices is expected to create significant lateral benefits for national Administrations, namely:

  • satisfy the need to do more with less by providing a standardised support structure in which all HR processes fit into a single core HR methodology;
  • support organisational changes by linking the correct people, knowledge and skills to the most appropriate roles in the Administration through a fair, transparent system of people development that is based on solid data;
  • tackle the challenge of an ageing workforce by foreseeing gaps in competencies and empowering leadership to undertake proactive measures to bridge them;
  • promote evolution and modernisation in the world of tax by providing the basis for top-quality training and people -development HR services, thus preparing tax employees for future challenges;
  • aid strategic workforce planning in line with the Administration’s needs by allowing national leaders to make informed decisions on solid data produced by a consistent and transparent EU HR methodology;
  • create financial benefits by revealing the potential to unlock savings through improvements to both operational and HR processes.

Incorporating the TaxCompeu into national HR processes will provide MS with new insight, knowledge and tools to implement top-of-the-line people management practices, which in turn will help promote a strong, powerful national presence within the world of EU Tax.

The TaxCompeu as a strategic competency-based HR tool

Competency-based HR management is an HR vision focused on making optimal use of the competencies of individual employees to increase the entire organisation’s performance. Tax Administrations and private sector organisations can reap the benefits of the TaxCompeu by integrating its usage into their HR processes. From recruitment and selection to training and career development, only when organisations place competencies at the core of their HR processes can they truly maximise the rewards that the TaxCompeu can bring. Competency-based HR management is the holistic solution to improve both public and private sector taxation performance and to deliver high-quality services across the EU, by placing tax-specific competencies at the core of tax HR management.

The TaxCompeu Components

This section describes the overall framework, including a high-level overview of each element of the TaxCompeu.

TaxCompeu Core Values and Competencies

The key ingredient to delivering a high and consistent standard of tax service is to empower employees with the competencies they need to deliver these services. This means that employees need to be trained in tax-specific competencies. To achieve this, the required competencies first need to be identified. This complete set of required competencies, documented with a European-wide focus, is what constitutes the TaxCompeu.

To fully capture the meaning and to ensure consistent understanding of the TaxCompeu, a set of definitions was first agreed between members of the dedicated EU project group set up for this purpose. When coming up with these definitions, a specific focus was put on the importance of the application of the skills and knowledge. It is not enough to simply possess skills and knowledge, tax professionals must be able to apply their skills and knowledge to their day-to-day roles.

A competency framework consists of all the skills, attitudes, insights and application of knowledge required to perform successfully in a specific professional context.

In order to perform successfully in a tax role, it is not only the tax-specific operational competencies that are important, but also a set of professional and managerial competencies. Therefore, the EU competencies that were identified were split into three categories: Tax Professional Competencies, Tax Operational Competencies and Tax Management Competencies.

Each category has its own purpose. The Professional Competencies are typically transferable between roles within tax and beyond. The Management Competencies are targeted to roles where there is a management or team-leading focus. The Operational Competencies are specific to roles where employees work directly on tax-related tasks.

All of these competencies are complemented by a set of Tax Core Values. These values are common principles that define the employee’s work ethic and their alignment to the overall Tax mission. These values are the definition of what it means to work in the field of European Taxation.

  1. Tax Core Values
    The EU Tax Core Values reinforce the goals and beliefs of EU Tax Administrations and encompass the basic vision of EU Tax. These fundamental values underlie the behaviours of Tax professionals and match their personal beliefs and approach to their profession. They are expected to be demonstrated by and be visible in the work ethic of everyone working in the Tax profession. They are not considered competencies, and as such, do not carry a proficiency level.
  2. Tax Professional Competencies
    Professional Competencies are of use in a broad professional context and describe the motivation, abilities and traits required to perform effectively in a wide range of jobs/roles within the organisation. Also known as “soft skills” or “behavioural competencies”, Professional Competencies are an integral part of on-the-job success in virtually every context and occupation, and therefore do not apply to Taxation only.
  3. Tax Operational Competencies
    Operational Competencies cover the demonstrable technical characteristics that enable successful performance in Tax roles and as such, designate the core expertise of the Administration. However, it should be noted that Operational Competencies alone are not sufficient to perform as a Tax professional. In all cases, they should be combined with other competencies (Professional and/or Management) to ensure that the Tax professional will be successful in his/her role.
  4. Tax Management Competencies
    Management Competencies are intended to be of specific use for roles with a management function. Some are Tax-specific, others are not. Naturally, there are many different levels of management ranging from expert and line management to strategic management. Management Competencies may apply to all levels, depending on the specific organisational context within national Administrations.

TaxCompeu Proficiency Levels

A Proficiency Level summarises the required level of proficiency for someone within a certain role. In combination with the competencies required for a certain role, it should mirror both the importance of the competency and the frequency of when it is required in the role. The Proficiency Levels used within the Competency Framework apply to all the competencies in the framework (Professional, Operational and Management Competencies). There are four levels ranging from 1 (Awareness) to 4 (Expert). The Proficiency Levels do not apply to the seven Tax Core Values since all Tax professionals are expected to adhere to and demonstrate these values.

TaxCompeu Career Model

Career models are part of the HR development processes within organisations. They are composed of distinct career paths that imply vertical growth or advancement to higher level positions, but they can also entail lateral movement within or across domains. Career paths are designed to provide structure and transparency regarding the abilities, training and experience that qualify career progression. Moreover, they offer a standardised approach through which MS can define training needs and measures, structure recruitment to identify roles to be fulfilled and validate performance evaluation processes. Τhe EU TaxCompeu career model currently identifies the following three career paths:

  • Operational Career Path, includes roles from Tax Officer Trainee to Tax Senior Officer. Roles within this Career Path are typically involved in the day-to-day operational Tax activities.
  • Expert Career Path, includes the roles of Tax Expert and Senior Tax Expert. Roles within this Career Path are typically specialised in a certain domain, thus building substantial working experience and in-depth knowledge in this area.
  • Management Career Path, includes roles from Line to Strategic Manager that typically involve operational and/or strategic management responsibilities.

Roles and levels can be combined depending on national organizational structure and context. This makes it possible, for example, to be both an expert and lead a team. In other words, the three career paths provide different opportunities but can also be combined and therefore do not exclude each other.

TaxCompeu Functional Domains

EU Tax Functional Domains correspond to the logical segmentation of a Tax Administration to its subsequent tax functions. Such functions occupy a definite place on the organisational chart and are led by a functional manager (in most cases a Senior Manager). EU Tax Functional Domains define groupings of Tax activities and/or processes and serve the purpose of mapping the organisational structure of a Tax Administration, along with the relevant roles in all hierarchical levels.

The EU Tax Functional Domains serve as a map to identify the distinctive tax business areas, the differentiation in tasks and responsibilities (further depicted in the TaxCompeu role descriptions), and the optimal competency blend required by the roles operating in them. However, it should be noted that national Tax organisational structure might not fully resemble the one proposed by the TaxCompeu. This is an anticipated nationalisation challenge that will in no way obstruct the efforts to align national frameworks to the TaxCompeu. During implementation support initiatives, national Administrations will be guided through such an alignment, taking special care to respect country practices and structure, whilst making it possible for the Administration to reap the benefits of the TaxCompeu.

Six core domains were designated as integral functions of a Tax Administration. To complement the list, a supportive function was also introduced, catering for ancillary operations (e.g. HR, Training, ICT) that are considered essential in the day-to-day operations of the Tax Administration.

TaxCompeu Role Descriptions & Competency Profiles

Role Descriptions describe the skills, competencies and responsibilities that are needed to perform each role and define where the role fits within the overall hierarchy of an organisation. The TaxCompeu Role Descriptions follow the equivalent structure of the Customs Role Descriptions to foster common ground and continuity, and include the following sections:

  • Section 1: Organisational Information, the role title and level;
  • Section 2: Scope of the Role, a brief description of the general organisational requirements of the specific position level, as well as how it interacts within the hierarchy;
  • Section 3: Responsibilities within the scope of the domain, a detailed, task-based overview of the principal areas of responsibility within the domain;
  • Section 4: Role responsibilities within the scope of the domain, the high-level tasks of professional (and/or management) responsibilities pertaining to the level of the role.
  • Section 5: Role-Specific Competency Profile, the optimal assortment of Professional, Operational and Management (where relevant) competencies, along with distinct proficiency levels per competency, for the role to be successful.

TaxCompeu Role Mapping Matrix and Mapping Tool

All above TaxCompeu components are consolidated into the TaxCompeu Role Mapping Matrix, an excel tool that includes a(n):

  • map of all common tax core roles per functional domain and career path;
  • detailed role description for every role accounted for within the matrix that can be consulted by clicking on the relevant link;
  • optimal competency profile accompanying each role description.

The Mapping Tool is a standalone tool that includes all necessary information to enable users to apply the TaxCompeu fully and develop role profiles customised to their national Administrations. The tool consists of the two templates for role mapping:

  • “Create a Role” template for the definition of a role, mapped with its associated competencies. The user will then select the associated proficiency levels for the chosen competencies;
  • “Roles Overview” template for a high-level overview of all roles / competencies in a matrix. For example, this is useful for HR to have a high-level view of the roles. It is editable, enabling users to add more competencies / roles.

The complete TaxCompeu Toolbox

The TaxCompeu consists of the following documents and supporting tools:

  1. TaxCompeu Overview – Pdf document describing the full functionality of the framework for EU Taxation.
  2. TaxCompeu Competency Dictionary – Pdf document containing detailed descriptions of the Core Values, and Professional, Operational and Management Competencies. Also provides Proficiency Levels descriptions.
  3. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Eight documents containing scope and task descriptions per functional domain and hierarchical level, as well as a competency profile specific to each role:
    1. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Tax Policy and Law
    2. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Taxpayer Services
    3. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Tax Collection
    4. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Tax Audit
    5. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Risk Management
    6. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Tax Fraud and Investigation
    7. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Supportive Functions
    8. TaxCompeu Role Descriptions – Cross Functional
  4. TaxCompeu Role Mapping Matrix - Excel file containing common Tax roles in an EU Tax Administration, including role descriptions, high-level tasks per role and a competency profile specific for each role and TaxCompeu Mapping Tool – Excel file to develop role profiles custom to national Administration needs.
  5. The TaxCompeu Training Curriculum, currently under development.
  6. TaxCompeu Communication support:
    1. TaxCompeu Communication Messages – Pdf document containing major communication arguments towards leadership, HR departments and executives, employees within the Tax Administration and other general audiences, to help support TaxCompeu Implementation initiatives.
    2. TaxCompeu Europa webpage – containing all relevant TaxCompeu information.
    3. TaxCompeu Infographics (Infographic 1 | Infographic 2).
  7. TaxCompeu Implementation support initiatives to be announced.

The Team participated in the development of the TaxCompeu

Click here to meet our team!

The Project Group

Austria

Michael Steuer

Studied Business Administration in Vienna, worked in a HR consultancy with the focus on recruiting and HR projects for the public and semi-public sector; since 2004 Expert in the Department of Human Resources Development of the Ministry of Finance (Austria), Main Tasks: Performance and Talent Management; Lecturer for HR topics at Universities of Applied Sciences in Vienna

“The development of an EU competency Framework for Tax is a very meaningful task for all of us. For me, it is always a pleasure and very interesting to collaborate with experts from different EU member states.”

Greece

Ioannis Lentas

Studied Sociology in Greece and Human Resource Development at University of Manchester in UK. As Head of the Performance Appraisal and Grading Systems in the Human Resource Management Directorate, Ioannis Lentas is responsible for the coordination for the adaptation and implementation of the EU Customs Competency Framework (EU CFW) for the Greek Tax, Customs and Chemical Labs Administration, incorporating the Competency Profiles in all IAPR’s Job Descriptions and developing and implementing the Grading and Performance Appraisal Systems in I.A.P.R..

“Greece’s (at least) most fanatic supporter, promoter and proponent of the Competency based Human Resource Management. Really happy to contribute on building the best European Tax Competency framework.”

Greece

Theodora Machaira

Theodora Machaira is a tax officer currently working in the support Office of the Director General for Tax Administration, where she coordinates and manages a variety of topics ranging from the annual business planning to HR projects and organizational redesign. She is a graduate of the National School of Public Administration and Local Government and has been working for the I.A.P.R. for over 10 years.

“I am looking forward to a fruitful collaboration towards our common vision, the development of an EU Competency Framework.”

Ireland

Desmond Nolan

Desmond Nolan is an Assistant Principal working within the Irish Tax Authority (Revenue) with responsible for training in the development and delivery of our Continuous Professional and Personal Development Programme (CPPD) to ensure that the staff are up-skilled, re-skilled to enable them to have the confidence and skills to provide a high-quality service to our customers. He has a background in audit, financial management and Investment management. He currently lectures to 3rd Year students on Advanced taxation.

“I look forward to working with this small group of thoughtful and committed colleagued from different tax authorities and work practices to see how we as a group can improve the way training is provided, where practical, in a constructed manner. “

Italy

Cinzia Castelli

As Head of the International Relations Unit at the Italian Revenue Agency, Cinzia Castelli is responsible for, amongst others, to foster the exchange of professional experience in, and knowledge of, European policies in the foreign Tax Administrations. An experienced management and coordination of the activities related to capacity building projects has taken Cinzia around the world to assist development countries. She has a depth of experience in HR activities developing competency-based human resource systems. She has participated in several Steering Groups such as IOTA (Intra European Organization of Tax Administration) Tax Professional Learning and Development and HRM. In 2010 she was awarded as the best civil servant to have demonstrated outstanding performances for the quality, innovation and effectiveness of her own work.

“I am super excited to work with my colleagues coming from other Tax Administrations, I felt the European spirit among us”.

Italy

Rosella Volpicelli

Rosella Volpicelli is an organization’s analyst of the Italian revenue agency, who has been working for over 10 years in HR and Organizational department. She specialized in formulating proposals about organizational structures’ revision, defining, by the analysis of job description and evaluation (through the Hay methodology) roles and tasks necessary for the organization. She is also in charge of analyzing and redesigning the operational and management processes aimed at streamlining processes impacting on citizens and defining proposals for new forms of work organization and structures. Moreover, she lectures in behavioral courses addressed to managerial positions, defining the organizational contents and identifying the implications in respect of the other roles of the structure, with the aim to ensure coherence to career paths.

“I am strenuously convinced that in order to generate real and persistent change, in public administrations as well as in every professional field, we must start from people: from their motivation, their talents, their ambitions. This is because only by proposing coherent and bold internal human resources policies will the organization be able of unleash the energies to give a better service to the citizen.”

Lithuania

Gražina Mongirdienė

Grazina holds a Master's degree in Automation Engineer at Kaunas University of Technology and a Master's degree in Vocational Education at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. She also obtained an andragogic qualification at Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University. For 7 years worked as a trainer at a US company. She has 14 years’ experience in consulting. Grazina is an Accredited Consultant of National Business Consultants Network. Areas of expertise: organizational development, strategy, organizational culture, communication, strategic information and personnel management. Working as a Senior Specialist of the Internal Procedure Management Division for the Lithuania state tax inspectorate, she is responsible for developing optimal operational practices and formation of an effective organizational culture. Grazina provides coaching to develop leadership competencies.

“I am very happy to work together with the group. Let’s learn from each other and create together.”

Spain

José Miguel Piñón

He studied Geography and History in Madrid. He has been working for over 10 years in general management and legal aspects of HR programs in the Spanish Tax Agency: selection policy, job posts structures, human resources management, variable remuneration systems concerning objectives, employee benefits plan. Previous experience in Public Procurement and other supportive functions.

“Building a good Tax CFW will help our employees to offer an outstanding service to our people. I am happy to be part of this working group.”

The Project Group consists of other representatives from France, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Slovenia and Spain.

DGTAXUD

A brief introduction of the vision of the DG. Names, photos, titles of key representatives.

Birgit Reiser

Birgit works since 2002 for the European Commission, General Directorate of Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD), in Brussels (BE). As Head of Sector 'EU Customs and Taxation Training & Development' she is in charge of strategy development and implementation of policy related training and staff competency building activities in the Customs and Fiscal area in the European Union.

This is done in collaboration with national Customs and Tax Administrations’ Training & HR departments of all Member States of the EU (and associated countries).

Believes in a high-performance potential of today’s public administrations, like Customs administrations, along the line: ‘Have the right person with the right competencies is the right position’!

Birgit's credo: "If you think training is expensive, try ignorance"

The change management consultants

A short bio, photo and contact details of consultant executives, to put a face next to the name and inspire accountability, authority and expertise.

Ariadne Lada

Lead Organisational Development Consultant

Ariadne.lada@intrasoft-intl.com

Ariadne Lada an Organisational Development Consultant, with more than 15 years of consulting experience in the fields of organisational design and transformation, human resources management, team coaching and workshop facilitation.

Eirini Lagou

Human Resources Expert

Eirini.lagou@intrasoft-intl.com

Eirini Lagou has a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. She has professional experience in consulting, recruitment processes and a specialisation in human resources analytics in multinational companies.

Amalia Tsoukala

Senior Organisational Development Consultant

Amalia.TSOUKALA@intrasoft-intl.com

Experienced Learning Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the HR field. Skilled in Training Programme design and delivery, Consulting, Negotiation Training Needs Analysis. Strong Human Resources professional with a Master of Business Administration focused in European Management.

Stephane Sedefian

Project Manager

Stephane.SEDEFIAN@intrasoft-intl.com

Stephane started working as a programmer and computer analyst in France for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After a short passage in a consulting company, he worked for almost ten years for L’Oréal in Paris as IT manager. The main challenge mid-2000 was the rise of mobile internet and the usage to be done with. His reply was to equip the whole salesforce and to establish faster order submission and preparation. Thus, creating a decisive advantage for L’Oréal on the French market as most competitors had warehouses outside France.

Since 2012, working in Greece as Service Manager of ITSM2 LOT2 and later ITSM3 TES projects for DG TAXUD. Tax expertise and knowledge gained around VAT for intracommunity business with VIES/VoW and for VAT on electronic goods with MOSS. After the launch of MOSS in production, technical meeting with the MS were organized to analyse and respond to fraudulent VAT behaviours. MOSS expertise lead to the start of iOSS project extending VAT submission to all goods entering the EU borders.

Carmen Lupea

Project Director

Carmen.Lupea@intrasoft-intl.com

Carmen is an Information management specialising in RTD and Innovation issues. Managing of different EU Information and Communication projects across different DG’s. She has been in charge of, or involved in, various large EU information projects dealing with RTD, Innovation and SMEs (CORDIS). Since January 2007, she is the web content team coordinator for the PubliReasearch project, where she is responsible for the coordination with all parties involved to meet Commission Providers requirements: designers, developers, editors, translators. She is rigorous and takes a particular attention to details allowing her to perform tasks with a high quality. She is also the contact-liaison between Commission Providers and project management team.

Alexandros Stylianou

Communications Strategist

Alexandros.stylianou@intrasoft-intl.com

Dr Alexandros Stylianou is Lead Communications Consultant at INTRASOFT International. He has a diverse background in communication strategy development, conception and provision of 360° tailored communication consultancy, account management and media relations, spanning more than 14 years of experience.

The CustCompeu

Background and Approach

The CustCompeu is the first step towards the creation of a common strategic performance development framework for the Customs Administrations around the European Union. It has been developed based on input from a number of EU Member States, documentation from the World Customs Organization and other international sources. An expert project group involving Customs representatives from the Member States was established to drive the development of the framework, and to ensure that national experience in the usage and application of competency frameworks in the field of Customs was taken into account.

The CustCompeu describes the consensus view of the application of knowledge, skills and behaviours required by Customs professionals in the EU, both now and in the future. Its aim is to provide the basis for a fully functioning model that delivers excellence in Customs, the efficiency of operations, and uniformity of action throughout across the EU.

The CustCompeu is the foundation upon which subsequent elements can be built. As such, it is the building block to drive improved delivery and business outcomes of Customs services, whilst it also provides the basis on which the TaxCompeu will be developed.

The vision

The CustCompeu supports the achievement of the following key business outcomes (out of many) that were agreed by the MS Customs Administrations as priorities for the Customs profession:

  • Harmonisation of delivery and standards – ensuring that Customs operate in a uniform and transparent manner across the EU. Defining standards relating to skills, knowledge and training required for performant Customs workforce.
  • Better responsiveness to change and orientation towards the future – participants identified the next decade as a period of profound change (continuing the significant changes that have already occurred) as a result of shifting trade patterns, global financial crises and the rapidly changing nature of business operations and supply chains.

It will be possible to deliver consistently high standards of service in all EU Member State Customs Administrations with the CustCompeu in place. It introduces a harmonised EU approach and is the basis for common training and education; it supports Member States in delivering the skills and knowledge that the Customs profession needs. The CustCompeu enables MS Customs Administrations to deliver world-leading Customs services throughout the EU.

Additionally, Customs must be able to respond to change, and be future-oriented to remain ahead of shifting trade patterns, global financial crises and the rapidly changing nature of business operations and supply chains. The CustCompeu aligns with the strategic direction to address these requirements and to develop high performing Customs workforces. This is achieved through the definition of a shared view of the competencies that high-performing Customs professionals currently need, and those that they will need in the future.

Why is the EU Customs Competency Framework valuable for the individual Customs Administrations?

At a European level, the CustCompeu puts into place a mechanism that will help to raise performance levels across all EU Customs Administrations. But there are also many benefits to be gained at national level.

Many Member States are currently facing at least some of the following challenges:

  • The need to do more with less. Customs Administrations are shrinking in terms of workforce. The workload remains the same however, and at times this may impose significant organisational challenges.
  • Organisational changes. In line with doing more with less, many Customs Administrations are currently undergoing structural changes. Often, these changes highlight the importance of linking the correct people, knowledge and skills to the most appropriate roles in the Administration.
  • Ageing workforce. The majority of Customs Administrations in Europe are facing a relatively massive loss of knowledge and skills within the near future (i.e. the threat of an up-coming ‘pension wave’).
  • Evolution within the world of Customs. Safety and security, customer-oriented focus and many other similar areas are becoming increasingly important. The extent to which EU Customs Administrations are equipped with the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to tackle these evolutions in Customs will be a key driver of their overall performance in the coming years.

All of these trends put additional stress on Customs Administrations and on their ability to reach their goals and annual targets. The CustCompeu provides the means to better document and track the competencies required to deal with these trends. Ultimately, it provides the basis and framework to ensure the right people, with the correct skills and knowledge, are assigned to the proper roles, and provides:

A tool for Strategic Management to steer the Administration. The Customs Competency Framework allows for the identification and documentation of workforce statistics. For example, it contains role descriptions for all the roles in the Customs Administration. These descriptions can be used to monitor which skills are present within the Administration. Furthermore, it will enable the Customs Administration to mitigate the risks related to pending retirement waves, as it can provide a clear overview of the competencies that will be lost.

Strategic workforce planning in line with the Administration’s needs. The CustCompeu allows for a more consistent and transparent policy to be put in place for career advancement. Using workforce statistics, the Customs Administration can administer career advancements in a way that both aligns with the Customs Strategy and meets the Administration’s needs.

Identification of competency gaps (knowledge, skills, behaviour) and organisation of training. The CustCompeu enables the identification of significant current (or future) knowledge and skills gaps. Based upon this information, training can be organised more effectively, and be better targeted to relevant individuals and roles.

Financial Benefits. The CustCompeu reveals the potential financial benefits of improving both operational and HR processes. Employees at all levels can be placed into more effective teams using the “right person at the right place” principle. HR processes, such as performance management and training, will be more transparent and will run more efficiently.

Performance Management – smooth and objective performance assessments. At the individual level, all employees throughout Europe holding similar roles will be assessed using the same framework and competencies.

Additionally, the CustCompeu has been developed in such a way that:

  • it is a flexible, adaptable according to a Member State’s national context and existing competency frameworks and/or HR processes. Member States may adapt and modify the CFW to ensure an optimal fit with the national context.
  • customising the Competency Framework for national use requires minimal effort. The workload required to customise the CFW for national use is limited, as the Competency Profiles through the identification of common Customs roles are already provided. So, Member States may modify the common roles according to their national context rather than develop them from scratch.
  • upon request from national Customs Administrations, further support for functional implementation support can be provided. National implementation support is planned at EU level. Where appropriate, and if within the legal and financial scope of the Community cooperation and support programmes, country-specific support can also be foreseen.

The CustCompeu Toolbox

The CustCompeu is the mechanism to deliver consistently high standards of service in all national Customs administrations. As such, it is one of the main drivers for the modernisation of Customs administrations across Europe.

The following definitions capture what the CustCompeu entails:

A competency is:

The application of knowledge, skills and behaviours in a professional context.

A competency framework is:

The whole of skills, attitudes, insights and the application of knowledge that is required to perform successfully in a specific professional context.

Competency within the EU Customs CustCompeu areas are divided into four categories:

  • customs core values
  • customs professional competencies
  • customs operational competencies
  • customs management competencies.

The CustCompeu toolbox, consists of the following components:

  1. The Competency Dictionary, comprising of a relevant, precise description of:
    • The Customs core values
    • The Customs professional competencies
    • The Customs operational competencies
    • The Customs management competencies
  2. The Competencies Overview: one slide depicting an overview of the Customs Competencies.
  3. The Role Mapping Matrix: an Excel tool containing an overview of identified common Customs roles as well as detailed information per Customs role.
  4. The Customs Core Role Descriptions: individual Word documents containing detailed descriptions of the Customs roles per functional domain. The document lists tasks associated with that role and the relevant competency profile.
  5. The Training Curriculum is part of the CustCompeu. This includes the following documents:

Proficiency Levels

A proficiency level summarises the required level of proficiency for someone within a certain role. In combination with the competencies required for a certain role, it should mirror both the importance of the competency and the frequency of when it is required in the role. The proficiency levels used within the CustCompeu apply to all the competencies in the framework (Professional, Operational and Management Competencies). There are four levels ranging from 1 (Awareness) to 4 (Expert). The proficiency levels do not apply to the seven Custom Core Values since all Customs professionals are expected to adhere to and demonstrate these values.

Competency-based HR management

What is a competency?

Observable abilities, skills, knowledge, motivations or traits defined in terms of the behaviours needed to perform successfully.

Competencies and competency frameworks are proven tools for translating the strategic vision of an organisation into the behaviours employees must display for the organisation to be successful.

What is Competency Based HR Management (CBM)?

A management methodology that standardises and integrates all HR activities based on competencies that support organisational goals. HR professionals frequently face challenges in:

  • understanding the performance capability within their organisation;
  • formulating a plan to match organisational capability to a mission; engaging and retaining the right people and sustaining the organisation’s capability to perform over time.

Read more on Competency Based HR

Why Competency-Based Management?

Competency-based management (CBM) supports the integration of HR planning with business planning by allowing organisations to assess the current HR capacity based on their competencies against the capacity needed to achieve the organisation’s vision, mission and business goals. Targeted HR strategies, plans and programmes to address gaps (e.g., hiring and staffing, learning, career development, succession management, etc.) are then designed, developed and implemented to close the gaps.

While competencies are not new to most organisations, their increased application across varied HR functions (i.e. recruitment/selection, learning and development, performance management, career development and succession planning, HR planning) is new. Organisations are looking for new ways to acquire, manage and retain the precious talent needed to achieve their business goals.

Properly designed, competencies translate the strategic vision and goals set by an organisation into behaviours or actions that employees must display for the organisation to be successful. CBM standardises and integrates all HR activities based on competencies that support organisational goals.

“People are the only thing that matters...... when that part is right, everything else works.” David Ogilvy, Ogilvy & Mather

How does Competency-Based Management create a win-win environment?

In a competency-based system, both the employer and the employee benefit. This is a result of having a transparent blueprint for recruitment, job expectations, performance evaluation, and advancement paths. Personal judgment and subjectivity are minimised, creating a more positive work environment and a stronger relationship between employee and employer.

Benefits of a Competency-Based Management system for employers

  • ensures organisation-funded training and professional development activities are cost-effective, goal-oriented and productive;
  • enables employees to achieve a high level of competence in an efficient manner;
  • records the employee’s acquisition of the skills and knowledge, as well as the understanding of safety and other procedures relating to each task;
  • reduces cost overruns caused by poor performance or miscommunication of job expectations;
  • improves communication between employees and management;
  • increases internal employee mobility, providing the organisation with greater ability, scale and flexibility as needed
  • establishes a framework for constructive feedback by management at scheduled training and performance appraisal intervals;
  • clarifies job standards for performance appraisals;
  • outlines employee development and promotional paths within the organisation.

Benefits of a Competency-Based Management system for employees

  • sets clear performance expectations for employees, enabling them to make better decisions and work more effectively;
  • gives employees insight into the overall strategy of their team, department and organisation, leading to greater engagement and motivation;
  • enables employees to be more proactive beyond their individual roles by learning additional competencies that are valued by the organisation;
  • provides clear direction for learning new job skills;
  • offers a reference resource for day-to-day requirements;
  • increases potential for job satisfaction;
  • provides a mechanism for recognising employee abilities;
  • ensures that individual professional development and training milestones are recorded and acknowledged by the organisation.

Connecting to organisational execution

CBM solutions typically provide input for and drive all aspects of employee career development. This allows organisations to improve productivity in most areas of human capital management HR. CBM is typically referred to as ‘strategic’ in that it attempts to link organisational planning to job execution.

Planning for Competency-Based Management

It takes effort and commitment to implement a comprehensive and integrated competency-based human resource management (HRM) system.

Therefore, it is important to take the time to evaluate the needs of the organisation and to create a strategy and plan that will meet these needs. In other words, it is important to get it right the first time.

Developing the business case

As with any other significant change initiative, there must be a compelling need and will to change for it to work. It is not sufficient for the organisation’s HR or training professionals to see the need. Leaders of the organisation must also see the benefits and be willing to champion the initiative. Likewise, employees must understand how a competency-based structure will benefit them both in their current jobs, and in advancing their careers. For this reason, many organisations have chosen first to implement components of a competency-based HRM system that address the needs as expressed by employees, preferably in a non-threatening way. For example, a competency-based self-directed learning programme.

Developing the strategy

Having identified the business need, the champions for change and organisational readiness, the organisation is in a position to define a more precise, staged approach to developing and implementing competency models.

The first major challenge for the organisation is to decide to what level the competencies will be defined. For example, will it be sufficient to define the common/core competencies for everyone in the organisation, or do specific competencies have to be developed for particular classifications and levels, functions, or jobs? The answer to this question hinges on how the competencies will be used.

The organisation must also determine the competency modelling method best suited to support the needs identified. However, no single method will effectively support all components of the HRM system (i.e. training and development, selection, performance management, etc.), the full range of occupations and levels (executive, professional, skilled, semi-skilled, etc.), or the various types of organisational and business environments.

Finally, communication is imperative at all stages of the planning, development and implementation process. In addition to promoting the value, benefits and ways in which the competency-based initiative will be implemented, stakeholder participation in the process is also important. This not only creates ‘buy-in’ for the initiative, but also ensures that the competencies truly reflect the behaviours that will contribute to and sustain organisational success.

Strategic HR planning

Strategic HR planning is a process that identifies the current and future HR needs required by an organisation to achieve its goals. HR planning should serve as a link between HR management and the overall strategic plan of an organisation. Ageing workers in most western countries and growing demands for qualified workers in developing economies have underscored the importance of effective HR planning.

CBM supports the integration of HR planning with business planning by allowing organisations to assess the current HR capacity based on their competencies, against the capacity needed to achieve the organisation’s vision, mission and business goals Targeted HR strategies plans and programmes to address gaps (e.g., hiring/staffing, learning; career development, succession management, etc.) are then designed, developed and implemented to close the gaps.

These strategies and programmes are monitored and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that they are moving the organisations in the desired direction, including by closing employee competency gaps and making corrections as needed. HR planning is the ongoing process of systematic planning to achieve the best use of an organisation’s most valuable asset – its human resources. The objective of HR planning is to ensure the best fit between employees and jobs, while avoiding workforce shortages or surpluses. The three key elements of the HR planning process are forecasting labour demand, analysing present labour supply and balancing projected labour demand and supply.

Competency architecture

The starting point for any application of CBM is a competency model/profile that is valid and constructed in such a way that it can be easily used to support all intended HR goals (e.g. recruitment, selection, learning, etc.). Establishing a clear competency structure is one of the first and fundamental steps in profile development. Several competency architectures are possible. Each organisation needs to identify the architecture that best meets its needs.

The model builds from the vision, values and strategic business priorities of the organisation and includes the following competency layers:

Core Competencies – include very general/generic competencies that all employees must possess to enable the organisation to achieve its mandate and vision. These competencies describe in behavioural terms the key values of the organisation and represent those competencies that are core to its principal mandate.

Job Family Competencies – those competencies that are common to a group of jobs. They often include general job competencies that tend to be required in a number of job families, as well as job-specific competencies that apply to certain job families more than others (e.g. project management). These tend to be related more to knowledge or skills required for certain types of jobs (e.g. accounting for jobs involving financial administration).

Technical and Professional Competencies – these tend to be specific to roles or jobs within the job family and include the specific skills and knowledge (know-how) to perform effectively (e.g. ability to use particular software, knowledge of particular professional areas such as finance, etc.). These competencies could be generic to a job family as a whole, or be specific to roles, levels or jobs within the family.

Management Competencies – these are the key competencies for roles that involve managing, supervising or influencing the work of others in some way. Some organisations view ‘leadership’ to be a part of every job within an organisation, in that employees are expected to contribute and offer new or better ways of working regardless of their level or role. Leadership is required in teams, project management, as well as at the managerial, executive and board levels.

Consistent with the requirement for ease of use, organisations typically define a limit on the number of key/important competencies that are included in the profile for each job role within the organisation.

Competency dictionary

Competency dictionaries are a tool or data structure that include all or most of the general competencies needed to cover all job families and competencies that are core or common to all jobs within an organisation (e.g. teamwork, adaptability, communication). They may also include competencies that are more closely related to the knowledge and skills needed for specific jobs or functions.

A typical comprehensive competency dictionary should include a broad range of competencies developed through extensive literature search, review of best practices and ongoing refinement based on field research with various client groups. The competencies in the dictionary are required by a broad range of employees functioning within a wide variety of private and public sector organisations. The demonstration of these competencies by employees and managers leads to increased performance at individual, team and organisational levels.

Each competency has a general definition that provides the user with a general understanding of the type of behaviour addressed by a particular competency. Each competency includes proficiency levels, and each level has a brief statement linked to it describing how that particular level is distinct from others within that competency. The behavioural indicators at each proficiency level are illustrative of the proficiency level, as opposed to representing a definitive list of all possible behaviours at each level.

Proficiency levels: organisations typically have incremental competency proficiency scales as part of the overall competency structure. These scales reflect the amount of proficiency typically required by the organisation within a competency area.

Competency-based (CB) recruitment

CB recruitment is based on the ability of candidates to produce anecdotes about their professional experience that can be used as evidence that the candidate has a given competency. Candidates demonstrate competencies on the application form, and then in the interview, which in this case is known as a CB interview.

CB recruitment is intended to be fairer than other recruitment processes. It clearly lays down the required competencies and then tests them in such a way that the recruiter has little opportunity to favour one candidate over another. As a result of its perceived fairness, the process is popular in public services. CB recruitment is highly focused on the candidate’s story-telling abilities as an indication of competency, and awards little importance to other indications of his/her skills and potential, such as references.

Elements of a CB job description

  1. Job title – title that is used to refer to the employee’s position in the company (e.g. Project Manager);
  2. Relevance of position – statement about how the position supports the company (with its business plan and objectives);
  3. Major responsibilities – list of the main activities that the individual must undertake on a day-to-day basis;
  4. Critical criteria – standards and qualities that candidates must have in order to be considered for the job;
  5. Preferred criteria – qualities that the company would like a candidate to possess but are not crucial in the day-to-day activities of the job;
  6. Reports to – who their manager is.

There are four main reasons why competency-based job descriptions are crucial to businesses:

  • they provide crucial information for assigning the correct title and pay grade for the job;
  • they make it easier to recruit candidates as the process becomes more efficient;
  • potential candidates have a complete understanding of the duties and responsibilities they are to undertake;
  • the competencies identify the essential functions of the job.

There are four main reasons why CB job descriptions are crucial to businesses:

  • they provide crucial information for assigning the correct title and pay grade for the job;
  • they make it easier to recruit candidates as the process becomes more efficient;
  • potential candidates have a complete understanding of the duties and responsibilities they will undertake;
  • the competencies identify the essential functions of the job.

Job descriptions and competencies allow potential employees to identify the skills, qualities, experience and training needed for a certain job. The information in the job description and list of competencies is included in the performance requirements on which the performance reviews are based. Businesses rely on job descriptions and competencies to create training programmes for their employees, whereas employees use these to obtain the skills required for them to get a promotion or pay rise.

Competency-based (CB) learning

This approach to teaching and learning is more often used for learning concrete skills than abstract learning. It differs from other non-related approaches in that the unit of learning is extremely fine-grained. Rather than a course or a module, every individual skill/learning outcome, known as a competency, is one single unit. Learners work on one competency at a time, which is usually a small component of a larger learning goal. The student is evaluated on the individual competency, and only once they have mastered it do they move on to others.

After that, higher or more complex competencies are learned to a degree of expertise and isolated from other topics. Another common component of CB learning is the ability to skip learning modules entirely if the learner can demonstrate mastery of a certain level of expertise. That can be done either through prior learning assessment or formative testing.

CB learning is learner‑focused and works naturally with independent study and with the instructor in the role of facilitator. Learners often find different individual skills more difficult than others. This learning method allows a student to learn those individual skills they find challenging at their own pace, practising and refining as much as they like. They can then move rapidly through other skills to which they are more adept.

Competency profiles assist in effective learning and development by identifying the behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities that are necessary for successful performance in a job. Employees can assess their competencies against those required for their own job, or for another job in which they are interested, and then take steps to acquire or improve any necessary competencies.

Competencies support learning by:

  • focusing learning on the critical competencies needed for success in the job and organisation;
  • providing standards for measuring employee performance and capabilities;
  • providing the framework for identifying learning options/curriculum/programmes to meet employee and organisational needs;
  • supporting effective forecasting of organisational and project-related learning requirements;
  • providing standards for determining how well learning has occurred, both at individual and organisational levels.

Competency-based (CB) performance management

CB performance management is about achieving results in a manner that is consistent with organisational expectations. Integrating competencies within the performance management process supports providing feedback to employees, not only on what they have accomplished (i.e. performance goals), but also how the work was performed, using competencies for providing feedback.

Assessing competencies as a part of performance management is an important means of assisting employees in understanding performance expectations and then enhancing competencies. Multi-source feedback, while not an HR application per se, is a method that is often used in performance management to assess and provide employees with feedback on how they performed their work (i.e. their demonstration of the competencies).

Effective performance management includes the following features:

  • linking individual goals to the corporate and work unit business plans and goals;
  • focusing on results, behaviours (competencies) and process improvement;
  • regular reviews and updating of performance plans to address changing demands;
  • training for both managers and employees on how to effectively give and receive feedback, including feedback for employees who struggle to perform to the standards required for their jobs/roles;
  • training for managers on how to provide performance evaluations that are valid, fair and unbiased.

Integrating competencies within the performance management (PM) process can be done in one of two ways:

  • By defining the competencies needed to perform each performance goal/objective

    In this case, the manager and employee identify the key competencies required to achieve each performance goal/objective (typically one to three competencies per goal/objective). At the end of the performance cycle, the employee’s performance is evaluated against the performance goals/objectives and the key competencies associated with each goal. Using this approach, the competencies included in the employee’s performance plan may or may not completely coincide with the standard competency profile for his/her role/job. The advantage of using this method is that the competencies being assessed are entirely consistent with the employee’s performance goals for the performance review cycle. The disadvantage is that not all competencies within the competency profile for the employee’s role/job will necessarily be assessed within the cycle.

  • By integrating the competencies for the employee’s job into the PM process

    In this case, the performance plan includes the performance goals/objectives for the review period, as well as the complete set of competencies from the competency profile for the employee’s role/job. The performance goals/objectives address what must be accomplished during the review period, and the competencies measure how the employee conducted him/herself to accomplish their work. The advantage of this method is that all competencies defined in the competency profile for the employee’s role/job are evaluated. The disadvantage is that due the specific nature of the performance goals/objectives, key competencies that are essential to effective performance during the review cycle, but not included in the competency profile, will not be assessed.

    In both cases, feedback provided on the employee’s competencies typically feeds into the development of a learning or action plan to address gaps in performance and development within or beyond the employee’s current role/job.

Competency-based (CB) career development

The populations of most western countries are ageing, while most developing countries are experiencing accelerated demand for qualified workers who can meet the needs of their fast-growing economies. Many organisations are experiencing difficulties maintaining full staffing with qualified resources. Worldwide, the importance of putting in place programmes and initiatives to attract well-qualified workers – and to retain them once have been hired – is being recognised. The recent trends underscore the importance of career development and succession management initiatives aimed at preparing employees for increasing responsibilities within their organisations.

Career development has traditionally been driven primarily by employees. Organisations provide the frameworks, tools and processes, but the responsibility rests with employees who must take advantage of these to advance in their careers.

On the other hand, succession management has traditionally been management-driven. Key roles are identified, and ranked lists of suitable candidates are prepared based on their existing competencies and/or potential to perform in targeted roles or at targeted levels. Potential to perform can be identified in a number of ways, including past performance in career track positions, supervisory assessments of potential and standardised assessment programmes (e.g. assessment centres). The lists are used to appoint candidates as positions become available.

More recently, however, the lines between the traditional concepts of ‘career development’ and ‘succession planning’ have blurred. Organisations are instituting development programmes that allow employees to progress through a phased programme of development aimed at increasing employee competencies and preparing them to take on increased responsibility. These programmes typically include formalised in-class training, planned work assignments, assessments at key stages and ‘gradation’, defined through some form of assessment or certification, and/or appointment to targeted roles or levels.

CBM helps talent acquisition, performance management and learning management systems to be more effective by assessing employee skills and competencies. It also facilitates gap discovery and suggests learning methods (on the job, literature or formal courses) to help improve employee effectiveness.

Sources:

  1. Chouhan, V. S., & Srivastava, S. (2014). Understanding competencies and competency modeling―A literature survey. IOSR Journal of Business and Management, 16(1), 14-22.
  2. Competency-based management, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competency-based_management)
  3. Competency-based recruitment, from Wikipedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competency-based_recruitment)
  4. Competency-based learning, from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competency-based_learning)
  5. Charles, L., Triscott, J., Dobbs, B., Tian, P.G., & Babenko, O. (2016). Effectiveness of a core competency-based program on residents learning and experience. Can Geriatr J, 19(2), 50-57.
  6. Competency-based performance management, from Wikipedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competency-based_performance_management)
  7. Competency-based development, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competency-based_development)
  8. Draganidis, Fotis; Mentzas, Gregoris (2006). "Competency based management: A review of systems and approaches". Information Management & Computer Security
  9. "Harvard University Competency Dictionary". Harvard University. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  10. Nordmeyer Billie. "The Difference Between a Job Competency & Description", work.chron.com.
  11. The Competency Group company’s website (https://www.thecompetencygroup.com/competency-services/discover-the-benefits-of-a-competency-based-approach/)​

News

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