MSD Competency Framework

Guidance for mentors and managers

Supporting individualised learning and development

MSD competencies

Managers and team leaders can use the MSD Competency Framework to support individualised learning and development among practitioners on MSD programmes.

This page focuses on using teaching and learning guidance combined with competency-specific resources to help mentors structure their approach, avoid reinventing the wheel and connect to existing resources.

Target Audience
Managers, advisers and training providers who are working one-on-one with MSD practitioners.

Benefits of using the Competency Framework for individualised mentorship

  • Leverage existing structures - and be more systematic
  • Help focus on individual needs - recognise that everyone is different
  • Support a culture of team learning and feedback - by making learning and development goals explicit, shared
  • Find growth opportunities linked to programme needs

Before starting

  1. Familiarise yourself with the 17 MSD competencies.
    Read through the definitions to get a sense of what they are about beyond the title; pay attention to the Coaching and mentoring advice for each competency
  2. Skim the overarching guidance for Teaching and learning modes to reflect on the range of possible ways to help people develop
  3. Take stock of your organisation’s existing training structures, course materials and pedagogic approaches.
    Which competencies seem to be already emphasised? What approaches to teaching and learning are dominant? What might bring some new life?

Step-by-step guidance

Step 1: Introduce MSD practitioners to the Competency Framework

There are different options possible depending on location, size of team and time available,

  • High intensity (1-2 hours in person)
    Lead a facilitated workshop to explain the framework / get practitioners to engage in person / generate discussion around its use in your programme.
  • Medium intensity (30-60 mins, online or in person)
    Short presentation to explain the framework / make the case for its value / Q&A
    View the presentation we gave to Swisscontact
  • Low intensity (15-20 mins, in their own time)
    Send email linking to the introductory video / ask people to skim the web pages.

Step 2: Lead a self-assessment process for practitioners

This can be as simple as having each person score themselves out of 10 on each of the 17 competencies. Other options include an even simpler high-medium-low scale.

Currently, measurement tools are underdeveloped, so it is important not to over-invest in sophisticated assessment techniques.

Step 3: Prioritise competencies for individual development

  • Option A - Individual only
    Most likely the simplest option. It leaves it up to the individuals and can speed up the process.
  • Option B - Mix of individual and team prioritisation
    This approach involves each individual choosing one priority competency for themselves. The rest of the team votes for a second priority competency. While this requires a degree of trust, Swisscontact found it effective for the CASA project in East Africa.

Step 4: Meet one-on-one with practitioners to provide tailored coaching and feedback

  • Ask them to look at existing resources beforehand
  • Select tools or resources to work with them directly
  • Link competencies to concrete tasks/challenges in the programme
  • Help practitioners identify places they can get additional feedback

Step 5: Schedule regular check-ins as a group

  • Individual reflections and sharing examples of learning
  • Opportunity to seek feedback in a structured manner

Step 6 (Optional): Link to period review processes (e.g annual or semi-annual reviews)

  • Option A – not linked to pay/promotion/ etc
    This strategy allows a gradual familiarisation and can reduce the stakes and possible stress. For some organisations this has been a necessary first step to test the waters with a competency framework. 
  • Option B – linked to pay/promotion/performance assessment
    This approach is more high risk but introduces a formal reinforcing mechanism that may drive faster adoption of the framework. If you choose this approach, choice of assessment tool will be critical - people’s trust in the instrument will reflect their trust in the overall process.

Example 1 - Swisscontact in Bolivia

Using Competency B2: Intervention design to support co-facilitation in mentorship sessions


Example 2 - Swisscontact in Malawi, Uganda and Nepal

Focusing practitioners on Group A competencies during the start-up phase of a project


Example 3 – ILO in Egypt and Latin America

In-depth training, mentoring and assessment for key partners and consultants on MSD competencies