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.
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
- 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
- Skim the overarching guidance for Teaching and learning modes to reflect on the range of possible ways to help people develop
- 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 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
In 2019 Franz Miralles worked with a Swisscontact team of field technicians in Bolivia in the fruits and vegetables sector. After assessing the overall team’s competencies in Group B, he identified B2: Intervention design - as something the group would all benefit from.
He chose to take a peer coaching approach to a real-time intervention design challenge. Peer coaching let Franz provide input on the MSD approach, while valuing the sectoral knowledge of team members who were familiar with the sector. Franz chose to use examples of the Traditional interview questions for Intervention design to start the process and explore their familiarity with a systemic approach.
Ultimately, the group saw that different individuals needed to improve other complementary competencies (such as A2: Business and financial analysis and A1: Systems analysis). The team developed an explicit business model for each of their interventions. These were supported with financial analysis of projected costs and revenues for partners. The interventions were also linked to the wider sector goals and desired impact for the system. Individuals felt supported to strengthen their skills on both the nitty gritty of business modelling and the larger strategy of intervention design.
This is a good example of a hybrid team and individual mentoring approach. It also highlights the interdependence between competencies - Group B competencies such as Intervention design depend crucially on practitioners' competence in Group A competencies such as A2: Business and financial analysis.
Example 2 - Swisscontact in Malawi, Uganda and Nepal
Focusing practitioners on Group A competencies during the start-up phase of a project
Ailsa Buckley, Business and Markets Specialist for Swisscontact in East Africa, plays a key adviser role for the start-up of the CASA programme, a new multi-country MSD programme in Malawi, Uganda and Nepal.
Working closely with the Team Leader, she facilitated a process of self-assessment and team-assessment with all programme staff.
Swisscontact has its own internal capacity building system - Inclusive Markets - with training materials and a facilitators' guidebook.
After mapping these resources to the MSD Competency Framework, Ailsa decided to focus on Group A competencies (Analysis & insight) which mapped closely to plans for skill development during the start-up phase.
Each practitioner identified one priority competency based on their own self-assessment. They were also given a priority competency from their team members to balance their approach to personal development.
Each practitioner was asked to do some reading on their own, and to discuss their progress in individual follow-up sessions with Ailsa.
The team has been able to adapt its team-based sessions which are now tailored more towards the competencies identified across the team.
The individuals themselves are engaging with the framework and the available resources on the site. This means that Ailsa can focus specific support to each team member in the form of remote one-on-one sessions and signposting to other resources and assistance.
Overall this is strengthening their internal capacity building of programme staff. This example highlights the importance of situational recognition and focuses on competencies that align with the current phase of the programme cycle.
Example 3 – ILO in Egypt and Latin America
In-depth training, mentoring and assessment for key partners and consultants on MSD competencies
The ILO’s SME unit provides technical support to many projects applying a market systems approach. The team has been experimenting with new ways to support the development of analytical capabilities in project staff and institutional partners to ensure they acquire key competencies to a certain level.
The ILO’s BDS for Growth (BDS4Growth) project in Egypt was chosen as a pilot site for this new approach. Daniela Martinez and Yasmine Elessawy wanted to build on ILO’s training expertise and push further to test the analysis skills and competencies of staff, particularly in the key project partner organisation, the MSME Development Agency.
The core innovation they developed is a phased certification process for a value chain development (VCD) analyst, with four key elements:
- ILO VCD for decent work training course covering key concepts, including task group formation.
- Task groups complete a market system assessment and present the results back.
- A competency reinforcement workshop that pinpoints key competencies and connects theory to practice.
- A written exam to test participants’ knowledge and skill on an open-ended case study.
In 2019, the team selected a priority list of six competencies adapted from the BEAM MSD Competency Framework. This formed the basis for the training material, the market systems analysis assignment and the assessment process to certify participants.
|Group A: Analysis
||A1: Business and financial analysis
||A2: Systemic Analysis for Decent Work Creation
||A3: Knowledge Synthesis
|Group B: Planning
||B1: Behavioural Insight
||B2: Innovative thinking, foresight & vision
||B3: Intervention Design
The certification was piloted in Egypt, with 28 individuals nominated by partner organisations. The participants were evaluated by a team of five people – Daniela, two technical specialists and two project staff. 16 of the 28 participants were certified.
Based on this experience, Fernando Martinez Cure, Adriana Sierra, and Elisa Mandelli adapted the certification to be used with partner consultants across three projects that sought to apply a market systems approach targeting refugees in Latin America. This required translation into Spanish, and adjustment of content to reflect working with a different target group, refugees. The projects benefited from ‘free’ market assessments by the participating consultants, the majority of which were high quality and published as stand-alone reports.
Two key points of learning from the examples:
- Participant selection: significant effort was invested in selecting participants in Egypt, with 100 individual interviews conducted leading to the final pool of 26 participants. In Latin America each project used its own process – and the solo project that didn’t allow screening had poorer results in terms of certification rates.
- Assessment: at the core of this innovation is a major investment in assessing competencies, through written tests and the practical exercise of a market systems assessment. Assessors found it challenging to assess individuals on team-based reports and presentations, where different individuals presented different sections. The team had better success with the written exams – which were open -ended case studies requiring people to analyse different intervention models. In both cases, it was important for assessors to be deeply familiar with the competency framework to efficiently assess different individuals against the competencies. Spending time meeting face-to-face to agree on how to interpret criteria helped sort out discrepancies between evaluators.