OECD Core Competencies

… a resource in the Competencies database

OECDComptencyFrameworkExcerpts from the Competency Framework document

The OECD is a quintessential employer of graduates with competencies provided by MPP and MPA programs. The OECD Careers website provides links to job descriptions and the Competency Framework, parts of which are reproduced below.

Technical competencies

Specific competencies are usually required to perform a given job within a job family. These are known as technical competencies.

Technical competencies cover the various fields of expertise relevant to the specific work carried out at the OECD. Technical competencies are at the heart of what we do.

Technical competency requirements to successfully perform a given job are defined in job vacancy announcements.

Core competencies

The Core Competencies summarise the capabilities that are important across all jobs and that we believe collectively contribute to the OECD’s overall success. At the same time, the importance of Core Competencies may vary according to the specific job duties and requirements.



Delivery-related – Achieving Results

Analytical Thinking is the ability to identify patterns across situations that are not obviously related, and to identify key or underlying issues in complex situations.

Achievement Focus is generating results by assuming responsibility for one’s performance and the correctness of one’s interventions, and recognising opportunities and acting efficiently at the appropriate moment and within the given deadlines.

Drafting Skills are based on the ability to respectfully communicate ideas and information (often technical) in writing to ensure that information and messages are understood and have the desired impact.

Flexible Thinking involves the ability to effectively adapt to a variety of situations, individuals or groups. It is based on the ability to understand and appreciate different and opposing perspectives on an issue, to adapt an approach as the requirements of a situation change, and to change or easily accept changes in one’s own organisational or job requirements.

Managing Resources is about understanding human, financial, and operational resource issues to make decisions aimed at building and planning efficient project workflows, and at improving overall organisational performance.

Teamwork and Team Leadership implies working co-operatively with others, being a part of a team, and assuming the role of leader of a team. In the OECD, people work not only with their own teams but also with teams and groups across and outside the Organisation. Therefore they need to work together effectively with interdependent goals and common values and norms to foster a collaborative environment and drive teams in the same direction.

Interpersonal – Building Relationships

Client Focus is based on the ability to understand internal/external clients’ (e.g. Committees, working groups, country representatives, etc.,) needs and concerns in the short to long-term and to provide sound recommendations and/or solutions.

Diplomatic Sensitivity implies understanding other people. It includes the ability to hear accurately and understand unspoken, partly expressed thoughts, feelings and concerns of others. Included in this competency is an emphasis on cross-cultural sensitivity. Proficiency in Diplomatic Sensitivity requires the ability to keep one’s emotions under control and restrain negative actions when faced with opposition or hostility from others or when working under stress.

Influencing implies an intention to convince others in an honest, respectful and sensitive manner in order to get them to go along with one’s objectives. It can also be the desire to have a specific impact or effect on others.

Negotiating involves the ability to work towards win-win outcomes. At lower levels, this competency assumes an understanding of one’s counterparts and how to respond to them during negotiations. At the higher levels, the competency reflects a focus to achieve value-added results.

Organisational Knowledge is the ability to understand the power relationships within the Organisation and with other organisations. It includes the ability to understand the formal rules and structures including the ability to identify who the real decision-makers are as well as the individuals who can influence them.

Strategic – Planning for the Future

Developing Talent means fostering an environment that will encourage professional and personal growth and the transfer of knowledge to future talent.

Organisational Alignment is the ability and willingness to align one’s own behaviour with the needs, priorities, and goals of the Organisation, and to act in ways that promote the Organisation’s goals or meet organisational needs. Organisational Alignment means focusing on the Organisation’s mission before one’s own preferences or professional priorities.

Strategic Networking involves working to build and maintain friendly, trustworthy and open internal and external relationships and networks with people who are, or might become, important actors in achieving strategic-related goals.

Strategic Thinking is the ability to develop a broad, big-picture view of the Organisation and its mission. Competitive advantage and threats, industry trends, emerging technology, market opportunities, stakeholder focus – Strategic Thinking is where these all come together. Strategic Thinking keeps individuals and groups focused and helps decide where to invest critical resources. It includes the ability to link long-range visions and concepts to daily work.

Key indicators for Level 3

Each level of the Core Competencies has behavioural indicators that indicate highlight how an individual can demonstrate that competency. Behavioural indicators are designed to show the requirements for successful performance.

Level 3 is typically associated with jobs such as Economists/Policy Analysts, IT Analysts and HR Advisers.

Analytical Thinking

  • Independently engages in tasks requiring interpretation of complex and often vague sets of information.
  • Identifies gaps in information and makes assumptions in order to continue analysis and/or take action.
  • Seeks a wide range of sources of information.

Achievement Focus

  • Identifies needed adjustments in own area of responsibility and sets priorities accordingly.
  • Considers the implications of proposed courses of actions.
  • Takes new initiatives aimed at improving team performance.

Drafting Skills

  • Writes on complex and highly specialised issues.
  • Conveys critical nuances and qualifiers to facilitate complete understanding of the material.

Flexible Thinking

  • Seeks best practices inside and outside the Organisation to anticipate change.
  • Stays open-minded and encourages others to bring new perspectives.

Managing Resources

  • Allocates and controls resources within own area of responsibility/ scope of assignment.
  • Identifies needs for resources to effectively support current initiatives, services and offerings.
  • Manages assignments’ delivery process and deadlines.

Teamwork and Team Leadership

  • Assumes accountability for work delegated to others (peers, team members, experts, etc.).
  • Seeks to work with teams with complementary skills/expertise.
  • Encourages people with opposing viewpoints to express their concerns.
  • Resolves conflict among team members sensitively and fairly.

Client Focus

  • Brings together aspects of a trend or policy into a clear picture for others to understand.
  • Looks for ways to add value beyond clients’ immediate requests and acts on them.
  • Anticipates clients’ upcoming needs and concerns.
  • Explores and addresses long-term client needs.

Diplomatic Sensitivity

  • Maintains objectivity when one’s own positions or opinions are challenged by peers or stakeholders.
  • Encourages others to contribute by overcoming cultural barriers and background differences.
  • Remains objective when facing criticism.


  • Uses compelling argumentation to convey conclusions and ideas.
  • Understands others’ complex or underlying needs, motivation, emotions or concerns and adjusts communication effectively.


  • Identifies minimal or ideal conditions of others during negotiations.
  • Negotiates based on first-hand observations and information collected from both sides avoiding using hearsay or personal opinions.

Organisational Knowledge

  • Anticipates outcomes based on an understanding of organisational decision-making bodies and power relationships.
  • Promotes and encourages others to keep up-to-date with the Organisation’s rules, structures, decision-making bodies, networks, power relationships and environment.

Developing Talent

  • Helps others learn from experience and development initiatives. Recommends readings, trainings and other resources.
  • Continually acquires and applies new knowledge and learning to improve job performance.
  • Provides constructive feedback to others.

Organisational Alignment

  • Stays aware of the organisational objectives and monitors current developments and trends that may affect implementation of organisational direction, programmes or plans.
  • Helps others understand the strategic goals of the Organisation and how their work relates to these.

Strategic Networking

  • Evaluates current network for effectiveness and relevance to achieving strategic objectives within own area.
  • Identifies and creates opportunities to initiate new connections that will facilitate the achievement of strategic goals within own area.

Strategic Thinking

  • Demonstrates awareness of the impact of own work on aspects of organisational strategy, and the impact of organisational strategy on own work.
  • Identifies implications of own analysis.

Source: OECD at http://www.oecd.org/careers/competency_framework_en.pdf, accessed 7 January 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 7 January 2016.