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Competency Dictionary

The Competency Dictionary helps identify general competencies for occupational groups.

  • defines a general competency

  • identifies behaviors associated with that competency

As we apply these terms to each occupational group, we may refine definitions and behavioral indicators.

This dictionary applies to general competencies and may not address technical competencies.


​Analytical Thinking

 Approaching a problem by using a logical, systematic, sequential approach.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Makes a systematic comparison of two or more alternatives
  • Makes connections and patterns among systems and data issues
  • Notices discrepancies and inconsistencies in available information
  • Identifies a set of features, parameters or considerations to take into account in analyzing a situation or making a decision
  • Approaches a complex task or problem by breaking it down into its component parts and considering each part in detail
  • Weighs the costs, benefits, risks, implications, and chances for success, when making a decision
  • Identifies many possible causes for a problem
  • Weighs the priority of things to be done
  • Recognizes key actions and underlying issues and problems

​Apply Technology to Tasks

The use of technology in the performance of one's job. Includes the integration and acceptance of new technology when appropriate.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Accepts and understands the benefits of using technology in the performance of work
  • Uses technology to simplify and streamline tasks
  • Is open to learning new technology techniques to enhance the job

Change Leadership 

Managing, leading, and enabling the process of change and transition while helping others deal with their effects.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Develops new approaches, methods, or technologies
  • Develops better, faster, or less expensive ways to do things
  • Recognizes the potential benefits of change
  • Recognizes and manages the challenges that can accompany change
  • Encourages others to value change

Conflict Management

Preventing, managing, and/or resolving conflict.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Recognizes differences of opinion, brings them out into the open for discussion, and looks for win-win solutions
  • Uses appropriate interpersonal styles and methods to reduce tension or conflict between two or more people/groups
  • Finds agreement on issues and follows through on implementation
  • Deals effectively with others in an antagonistic situation


Listens to others and communicates in an effective manner.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Knows that listening is essential to understanding
  • Ensures that others involved in a project or effort are kept informed about developments and plans
  • Ensures that important information from management is shared with employees and others as appropriate
  • Shares ideas and information with others who might find them useful
  • Keeps manager informed about progress and problems
  • Ensures that regular consistent communication takes place within area of responsibility
  • Gives and receives constructive feedback

​Creative Thinking

Ability to look at situations from multiple perspectives. Tendency or ability of individual to do or create something new. Creates solutions to problems using novel methods and processes.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Personally develops a new product, service, method, or approach
  • Sponsors the development of new products, services, methods, or procedures
  • Proposes new approaches, methods, or techniques
  • Develops better, faster, or less expensive ways to do things
  • Works cooperatively with others to produce innovative solutions

​Customer Focus

Identifying and responding to current and future client needs; providing excellent service to internal and external clients.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Solves customer problems quickly and effectively
  • Talks to customers (internal or external) to find out what they want and how satisfied they are with what they are getting
  • Discovers and meets underlying needs of customers
  • Lets customers know they are willing to work with them to meet their needs
  • Finds ways to measure and track customer satisfaction
  • Presents a positive manner with customers

Decision Making

Making decisions and solving problems involving varied levels of complexity, ambiguity and risk.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Makes critical and timely decisions in difficult or ambiguous situations
  • Takes charge of a group when it is necessary to facilitate change, overcome an impasse, face issues, or ensure that decisions are made
  • Makes tough appropriate decisions (e.g., closing a facility, reducing staff, accepting or rejecting a high-risk deal)

Developing Others

Willingness to delegate responsibility, work with others, and coach them to develop their capabilities.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Provides helpful, behaviorally specific feedback to others
  • Shares information, advice, and suggestions to help others to be more successful; provides effective coaching
  • Gives people assignments that will help develop their abilities and competencies
  • Meets with employees on a regular basis to review their developmental progress
  • Recognizes and reinforces people's developmental efforts and improvements
  • Expresses confidence in others' ability to be successful

​Diagnostic Information Gathering

Identifying the information needed to clarify a situation and drawing out the information when others are reluctant to disclose it.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Identifies the specific information needed to clarify a situation or to make a decision
  • Gets more complete and accurate information by checking multiple sources
  • Probes skillfully to get at the facts, when others are reluctant to provide full, detailed information
  • Questions others to assess whether they have thought through a plan of action
  • Questions others to assess their confidence in solving a problem or tackling a situation
  • Asks questions to clarify a situation
  • Seeks the perspective of everyone involved in a situation
  • Seeks out knowledgeable people to obtain information or clarify a problem

​Empowering Others

Conveying confidence in employees' ability to be successful, especially at challenging new tasks; sharing significant responsibility and authority; allowing employees' freedom to decide how they will accomplish their goals and resolve issues.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Gives people latitude to make decisions in their own sphere of work
  • Lets others make decisions and take charge
  • Encourages individuals and groups to set their own goals, consistent with business goals and their mission
  • Expresses confidence in the ability of others to be successful
  • Encourages groups to resolve problems on their own; avoids prescribing a solution

​Ethics and Integrity

Degree of trustworthiness and ethical behavior of an individual with consideration for the knowledge one has of the impact and consequences when making a decision or taking action.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Treats others fairly and with respect
  • Takes responsibility for own work, including problems and issues
  • Uses applicable professional standards and established procedures and policies when taking action and making decisions
  • Identifies ethical dilemmas and conflict of interest situations and takes action to avoid and prevent them
  • Anticipates and prevents breaches in confidentiality and/or security


Adapting to and working with a variety of situations, individuals and groups. Openness to different and new ways of doing things; willingness to modify one's preferred way of doing things.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Sees the merits of perspectives other than their own
  • Demonstrates openness to new organizational structures, procedures, and technology
  • Switches to a different strategy when an initially selected one is unsuccessful
  • Demonstrates willingness to modify a strongly held position in the face of contrary evidence

Forward Thinking

Anticipating the implications and consequences of situations and taking appropriate action to be prepared for possible contingencies.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Anticipates possible problems and develops contingency plans in advance
  • Notices trends and develops plans to prepare for opportunities or problems
  • Anticipates the consequences of situations and plans accordingly
  • Anticipates how individuals and groups will react to situations and information and plans accordingly

Fostering Diversity

Promoting equal and fair treatment and opportunity for all.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Seeks information from others who have different personalities, backgrounds, and styles. Includes them in decision-making and problem solving
  • Communicates and cooperates with others who have a diversity of cultural and demographic backgrounds
  • Makes it easy for others to feel valuable
  • Includes in conversations people with diverse backgrounds, and invites them to be part of informal work-related activities
  • Helps recruit and orient employees with a diverse cultural and demographic background 

Global Perspective

The ability to recognize and address issues that are outside our local perspective. Issues are viewed without any pre-set biases or limitations. Ability to see the "big" picture.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Has global experience: considers problems and opportunities from a global perspective
  • Understands and takes into account global and local impacts on day-to day activities
  • Role model for staff on global initiatives
  • Demonstrates cultural awareness
  • Proactive - prepares locally to support global activities
  • Empathetic and sensitive to global issues 

​Influencing Others

The ability to gain others' support for ideas, proposals, projects, and solutions.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Presents arguments that address others' most important concerns and issues and looks for win-win solutions
  • Involves others in a process or decision to ensure their support. Offers trade-offs or exchanges to gain commitment
  • Identifies and proposes solutions that benefit all parties involved in a situation
  • Enlists experts or third parties to influence others
  • Develops other indirect strategies to influence others
  • Knows when to escalate critical issues to own or others' management, if own efforts to enlist support have not succeeded
  • Anticipates the implications of events or decisions for various stakeholders in the organization and plans strategy accordingly


Identifying and dealing with issues proactively and persistently; seizing opportunities that arise.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Identifies what needs to be done and takes action before being asked or required
  • Does more than what is normally required in a situation
  • Seeks out others involved in a situation to learn their perspectives
  • Takes independent action to change the direction of events

​Interpersonal Skills

Extent to which an individual gets along and interacts positively with co-workers. Degree and style of understanding and relating to others.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Understands the interests and important concerns of others
  • Notices and accurately interprets what others are feeling, based on their choice of words, tone of voice, expressions, and other nonverbal behavior
  • Anticipates how others will react to a situation
  • Listens attentively to people's ideas and concerns
  • Understands both the strengths and weaknesses of others
  • Understands the unspoken meaning in a situation
  • Finds non-threatening ways to approach others about sensitive issues
  • Makes others feel comfortable by responding in ways that convey interest in what they have to say


Desiring and making an effort to acquire new knowledge and skills for work. Concern for the acquisition of new job knowledge.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Demonstrates an understanding of new information
  • Masters new technical and organizational concepts and information
  • Builds on strengths and addresses weaknesses
  • Curious
  • Pursues self-development on a continual basis
  • Seeks feedback from others and is receptive to new ideas and perspectives
  • Seeks opportunities to master new knowledge


Overall concern for the developmental level of an individual, a group of peers, or employees.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Clarifies responsibilities, authority, and expectations
  • Provides timely guidance and feedback to help staff accomplish a task or solve a problem
  • Provides guidance in how to strengthen knowledge, skills, and competencies to improve personal and organizational performance
  • Provides experiences to develop the employee's capability
  • Communicates effectively and develops employees

Organizational Awareness

Understanding the workings, structure, and culture of the organization as well as the political, social, and economic issues affecting the organization.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Understands the purpose of the organization including the statutory mandate, its customers, its products and/or services, and its measures of mission effectiveness
  • Keeps current with issues, which may have a future impact on mission
  • Understands and effectively works within the organization's structure and policies
  • Supports the public service mission and goals

​Personal Credibility

Demonstrating concern that one be perceived as responsible, reliable, and trustworthy.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Follows through on commitments
  • Respects the confidentiality of information
  • Respects the concerns shared by others
  • Displays honesty and is forthright with people
  • Carries their fair share of the work load
  • Takes responsibility for own mistakes and does not blame others
  • Conveys a command of the relevant facts and information

Planning and Organizing

Defining tasks and milestones to achieve objectives, while ensuring the optimal use of resources to meet those objectives.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Anticipates and prepares for upcoming events ensuring adequate resources are available
  • Considers the impact of something before it happens and makes necessary preparations or changes needed
  • Puts things in a sequential and/or logical order in preparation for accomplishing a goal
  • Provides/develops appropriate documentation to track progress of a project

Professional and Personal Development

The commitment to improve one's technical and personal growth.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Continues to learn about and improve theories and principles
  • Takes advantage of professional development opportunities
  • Seeks out new learning experiences

Professional Confidence

A justified belief in one's ability to do the job.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Provides an opinion or advice when appropriate
  • Takes a decisive course of action
  • Expresses beliefs with conviction
  • Expresses confidence in own judgment
  • Seeks challenges and independence

Relationship Building

The ability to develop, maintain, and strengthen relationships with others inside or outside of the organization who can provide information, assistance, and support.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Asks about the other person's personal experience, interests, and family
  • Asks questions to identify shared interests, experiences, or other common ground
  • Shows an interest in what others have to say; acknowledges their perspectives and ideas
  • Recognizes the business concerns and perspectives of others
  • Expresses gratitude and appreciation to others who have provided information, assistance, or support
  • Takes time to get to know co-workers, to build rapport and establish a common bond
  • Builds relationships with people whose assistance, cooperation, and support may be needed
  • Provides assistance, information, and support to others, to build a basis for future reciprocity

​Resource Management

Ensures the effective, efficient, and sustainable use of public service resources and assets; human and financial resources, real property and business information.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Protects and uses resources and assets in the performance of work
  • Identifies wasteful practices and opportunities for optimizing resource use
  • Monitors to ensure the efficient and appropriate use of resources and assets

​Results Orientation

Focusing personal efforts on achieving results consistent with the organization's objectives.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Develops challenging but achievable goals
  • Develops clear goals for meetings and projects
  • Maintains commitment to goals, in the face of obstacles and frustrations
  • Finds or creates ways to measure performance against goals
  • Exerts unusual effort over time, in achieving a goal
  • Exhibits a strong sense of urgency about solving problems and accomplishing work

Risk Management

Identifying, assessing, and managing risk while striving to attain objectives.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Willingness to take a chance
  • Taking risk while considering the parameters of the organization
  • Assessing the comfort level of participants, group, stakeholders, and sponsors before decision is made
  • Creates options with levels of risk identified

​Stress Management

The ability to function effectively when under pressure and maintain self control in the face of hostility or provocation.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Remains calm under stress
  • Handles several problems or tasks at once
  • Controls their own response when criticized or provoked
  • Maintains a sense of humor under difficult circumstances
  • Manages own behavior to prevent or reduce feelings of stress

​Team Leadership

Ability to effectively manage and guide group efforts. Includes providing appropriate level of feedback concerning group progress.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Recognizes and rewards people for their achievements
  • Acknowledges and thanks people for their contributions
  • Expresses pride in the group and encourages people to feel good about their accomplishments
  • Shares knowledge and resources and encourages the same of others
  • Finds creative ways to make people's work rewarding
  • Signals own commitment to a process by being personally present and involved at key events
  • Identifies and promptly tackles morale problems
  • Gives talks or presentations that energize groups


Ability to effectively work and complete assignments in group settings. Works cooperatively with others to achieve common goals.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Listens and responds appropriately to other team members' ideas
  • Offers support for others' ideas and proposals
  • Confers with other team members about their concerns
  • Expresses disagreement constructively (e.g., by emphasizing points of agreement, suggesting alternatives that may be acceptable to the group, etc.)
  • Reinforces and gives credit to team members for their contributions
  • Gives honest and constructive feedback to other team members
  • Provides assistance to others when they need it
  • Works toward solutions that all team members can support


Ensuring that one's own and other's work and information are complete and accurate; carefully preparing for meetings and presentations; following up with others to ensure that agreements and commitments have been fulfilled.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Sets up procedures to ensure high quality of work
  • Monitors the quality of work by setting up procedures
  • Acts to verify information
  • Checks the accuracy of own and others' work
  • Develops and uses systems to organize and keep track of information or work progress
  • Prepares for meetings and presentations
  • Organizes information or materials for others
  • Reviews and checks the accuracy of information in work reports

​Vision and Strategic Thinking

Supporting, promoting, and ensuring alignment with the organization's vision and values. Understanding of how an organization must change in light of internal and external trends and influences.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Communicates a clear, vivid, and relevant description or picture of where the organization should be in 3, 5, or 10 years
  • Expresses the vision in a way that resonates with others as demonstrated by their words and actions
  • Builds a shared vision with others
  • Influences others to translate vision to action

​Workforce Management

The effective recruitment, selection, development, and retention of competent staff; includes making appropriate assignments and managing staff performance.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Hires appropriate staff
  • Delegates tasks according to ability
  • Provides feedback on performance
  • Rewards and reinforces positive performance
  • Understands and complies with basic HR regulations and laws
  • Conducts performance appraisal and provides feedback
  • Addresses employee behavior problems

​Written Communication

Ability to Communicate ideas, thoughts, and facts in writing. Ability/skill in using correct grammar, correct spelling, sentence and document structure, accepted document formatting, and special literary techniques to communicate a message in writing.

Behavioral indicators:

  • Expresses ideas clearly and concisely in writing
  • Organizes written ideas clearly. Tailors written communications to effectively reach an audience
  • Uses graphics and other aids to clarify complex or technical information
  • Spells correctly
  • Writes using concrete, specific language
  • Uses punctuation correctly
  • Uses proper grammar
  • Uses an appropriate business writing style
  Updated: 5/20/2016
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