Michigan State Behavioral Competencies

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A framework for reviewing the performance of non-academic staff at a university

As one of its resources for conducting performance reviews of non-academic staff, Michigan State University Human Resources has developed a statement of behavioural consequences (click image to access) with the following description of purpose:

Behavioral competencies encompass knowledge, skills, attitudes, and actions that distinguish excellent performers. In order to achieve consistency of understanding across the University and to enhance discussions about work behaviors, the following definitions are provided. Select the statements that best fit the work being reviewed and discuss them with the employee when giving feedback and setting expectations.

The table below is reproduced from https://www.hr.msu.edu/performance/supportstaff/competencies.htm and its subpages(accessed 15 February 2016). In the original the bullets under each competency are called Indicator Statements.

Job Effectiveness
Achieves Results
  • Gets the job done by doing whatever it takes, within an appropriate time frame;
  • Handles and delivers multiple projects simultaneously;
  • Implements plans and makes mid-course changes when necessary to achieve goals;
  • Sets daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual project goals, creating specific plans to meet them;
  • Shows persistence in overcoming obstacles;
  • Ensures follow-through to desired results.
Communicates Effectively
  • Communicates in an open, candid and consistent manner;
  • Explains concepts and procedures clearly and completely while maintaining attention and interest;
  • Displays sensitivity to ethnic and gender issues in verbal and written communications;
  • Shows tact and diplomacy in dealing with others;
  • Keeps individuals well informed of key organizational issues and needs;
  • Keeps individuals informed about issues that may affect them;
  • Keeps others informed on the status of assigned work;
  • Delivers information effectively in a variety of settings including one-on-one, team setting, and presentations;
  • Delivers information effectively in a variety of formats including letters, memos, analytical reports, and decision documents.
Dependability / Attendance
  • Is available for work on a consistent and timely basis with infrequent unplanned absences;
  • Completes work in a timely manner;
  • Meet commitments with minimal oversight;
  • Meets commitments with others;
  • Conscientious, thorough, accurate, and reliable when performing and completing job tasks.
Job / Organizational Knowledge
  • Understands how to get things done in the organization;
  • Possesses knowledge and skills necessary to perform job;
  • Defines resources and actions to achieve objectives within constraints;
  • Builds effective networks and alliances inside and outside the University, which benefit the unit/University.
Makes Effective Decisions
  • Gathers information on an issue, impartially considering all sides and makes logical decisions that are clear;
  • Evaluates positive and negative alternatives within time and resource constraints;
  • Uses agreed upon criteria for decision-making rather than hidden agendas;
  • Delegates decision-making responsibility when appropriate;
  • Considers the total organization when making decisions;
  • Keeps the department’s long-term goals in mind when addressing short-term issues and problems.
Planning / Organization
  • Establishes priorities that address the details and timelines needed to achieve the intended results;
  • Focuses on end result;
  • Is flexible and utilizes resources;
  • Updates staff regularly and communicates plans to those involved;
  • Ensures projects are being completed according to plan and reevaluates if necessary.
Problem Solving / Judgment
  • Analyzes and solves problems by dealing with facts and not by blaming others;
  • Strikes a balance between being participative, i.e., involving team members in decisions and being directive, depending on the needs of the team and the situation;
  • Seeks involvement from diverse perspectives and areas of the department and /or University to solve problems;
  • Understands the organization and the affect decisions have on other parts of the organization;
  • Proactively anticipates and addresses concerns of employees, peers, upper management, and customers;
  • Formulates alternative/creative solutions to problems;
  • Resolves sensitive issues without making the situation worse;
  • Provides advice and/or information to individuals and teams in a timely manner;
  • Makes timely decisions with quality outcomes.
  • Focuses time and resources on activities that will yield the greatest benefit;
  • Gets work done within a given time frame;
  • Sets realistic personal goals and work plans that are consistent with the business needs and strategies of the unit;
  • Works effectively under pressure – balances multiple objectives;
  • Obtains information and utilizes resources effectively.
Takes Responsibility
  • Follows-through on commitments;
  • Only makes promises that can be kept;
  • Acts like a business owner, taking care of the needs of the unit;
  • Takes responsibility for actions, results, and mistakes;
  • Is willing to accept additional responsibility or authority.
Making People Matter
Builds Trust
  • Actions support his/her words;
  • Maintains a reputation for honesty, candor, confidentiality, fairness and reliability;
  • Protects the interests of people who aren’t present;
  • Judges substance, not image;
  • Offers status reports and keeps others appropriately informed;
  • Follows-up on commitments made in a timely, accurate and complete basis;
  • Makes position clear on difficult issues.
Honesty / Fairness
  • Sets an example by consistently modeling high standards of performance, honesty, and integrity;
  • Is willing to change his/her mind when given new information;
  • Makes sure all ideas receive fair consideration.
Interpersonal Skills
  • Attentive to and understands the views of others;
  • Demonstrates an awareness of own style and how it affects others, and makes adjustments as necessary;
  • Resolves interpersonal problems in the workplace;
  • Responds positively to constructive suggestions;
  • Displays objectivity in assessing situations;
  • Develops and maintains positive work relationships with others.
Positive Attitude
  • Creates a “can-do” climate;
  • Approaches others in a pleasant, happy and upbeat manner;
  • Maintains enthusiasm despite criticism of ideas;
  • Demonstrates support to unit/University mission;
  • Demonstrates an “I care” attitude.
Recognizes Others’ Achievements / Contributions
  • Promotes systems and processes that encourage and reward the development of people at all levels of the organization;
  • Says “Thank you” and “Great job” on a regular basis;
  • Recognizes and/or rewards others for their contributions and commitment in a manner that corresponds with the employee’s values.
Resolves Conflicts Constructively
  • Acknowledges personal responsibility in conflict situations;
  • Directly communicates with persons involved in disagreements;
  • Effectively manages conflict between organizational units with the appropriate individuals initially involved;
  • Identifies and constructively addresses disagreements which undermine performance;
  • Encourages people to bring difficult issues into the open;
  • Uses the strength of the facts, rather than the loudness of argument;
  • Resolves differences between people using persuasion, diplomacy and logic;
  • Keeps conflict resolution professional and not personal;
  • Manages conflict with others in ways that preserve good relations;
  • Offers open exploration of differing ideas and solutions within the team.
Respect for Others
  • Treats all people with dignity;
  • Demonstrates compassion, consideration, and caring;
  • Believes/assumes the best in others;
  • Demonstrates care for health and safety of others;
  • Values contributions of others;
  • Works to build others’ value with positive impact to all;
  • Speaks up on behalf of others when differences are not respected.
Supports Diversity and Understands Related Issues
  • Establishes and maintains effective working relationships with people from diverse backgrounds;
  • Realizes differences in people as opportunities to learn;
  • Contributes to an environment where differences are valued and encouraged.
Understands Others’ Perspectives
  • Puts his/herself in “another’s position” and demonstrates compassion, consideration, and caring;
  • Understands all points of view with empathy.
Organizational Success
Commitment to Continuous Quality / Process Improvement
  • Identifies and implements new processes and initiatives that help the customer/department accomplish its goals;
  • Translates ideas into specific tasks/actions to improve operations;
  • Actively seeks and suggests better ways of getting the job done, and learns from both successes and failures;
  • Creatively applies and actively shares expertise and best practices with other departments.
Continuous Learning / Development
  • Takes the initiative to learn new skills that would benefit the position and operational objectives;
  • Takes ownership of own professional development;
  • Learns from and seeks others’ ideas and perspectives;
  • Acts as a mentor and/or encourages other employees to improve and develop individual skills;
  • Seeks feedback on performance;
  • Considers, evaluates, and incorporates others’ suggestions about their own performance;
  • Continuously looks for new or nontraditional ideas to improve personal, team and operational effectiveness.
Creativity / Innovation
  • Injects originality into daily work through research, personal knowledge, and networking relationships;
  • Thinks “outside the box”;
  • Brainstorms and encourages new ideas and solutions;
  • Takes appropriate risks.
Customer Orientation
  • Insists on and/or provides on high quality service for internal and external customers;
  • Demonstrates customer focus by seeking out, understanding, and responding to the needs of both internal and external customers;
  • Responds to customers’ needs, questions and concerns in an accurate, effective, and timely manner;
  • Develops effective partnerships with customers;
  • Effectively and professionally works with upset customers, solving their problems;
  • Continually seeks efficient ways of providing services by minimizing procedural requirements.
Displays Vision
  • Thinks and considers possible future change;
  • Helps provide a clear customer-focused sense of direction for the team and co-workers to support the department’s vision;
  • Develops and/or explains strategic action plans for practical use;
  • Inspires and energizes others to commit to vision;
  • Develops and refines vision to reflect constant and accelerating change impacting MSU.
Flexibility / Adaptability to Change
  • Displays flexibility and openness in daily work and encourages others to stay open to change, improvements, etc.;
  • Adapts own attitudes and behavior to work effectively with different people and situations;
  • Accepts and readily adapts to changing priorities, better ideas, strategies, procedures, and methods;
  • Maintains work effectiveness in new situations.
Leadership / Initiative
  • Views him/herself as part of the team, not above it;
  • Is flexible and easy to approach;
  • Builds positive working relationships with all staff;
  • Provides recognition;
  • Develops staff;
  • Personally models MSU’s values, behaviors, and work practices;
  • Has personal credibility and high integrity;
  • Utilizes internal organizational resources effectively;
  • Anticipates and plans for future developments;
  • Tackles difficult problems and decisions, when appropriate;
  • Handles pressure and stress appropriately.
Teamwork / Cooperation (within and across units)
  • Openly shares information, knowledge and expertise with the team and co-workers;
  • Cooperates with other members to achieve the workgroup’s goals;
  • Appropriately gives and is open to feedback from team/coworkers;
  • Puts accomplishing the interests of the University/unit ahead of accomplishing individual goals;
  • Actively works to remove barriers to team effectiveness;
  • Utilizes team members’ skills to accomplish goals.
Additional Factors for Supervisors
Coaches / Counsels / Evaluates Staff
  • Employs a leadership style based on assessing the needs of individuals;
  • Addresses individual needs through coaching and teaching to improve learning and enhance performance;
  • Provides productive feedback to employees, co-workers and upper management in a timely, direct and supportive manner;
  • Coaches others on how to anticipate, define and solve problems;
  • Openly shares information and resources;
  • Evaluates performance regularly, accurately and fairly;
  • Monitors staff work and follows-up appropriately;
  • Deals with performance problems directly, fairly, and in a timely manner, providing current, complete and practical positive or corrective feedback.
Enables and Empowers Staff
  • Provides information and resources so staff can function independently;
  • Enables staff to take appropriate risks;
  • Encourages and promotes decision making and accountability at all levels;
  • Organizes and structures work for others in a manner that encourages ownership and accountability.
Encourages Teamwork and Group Achievement
  • Creates a high performance work environment where others pull together to complete tasks;
  • Encourages team members to discover the best ways to perform their jobs effectively;
  • Actively promotes functional as well as cross-functional teams;
  • Empowers teams to achieve goals by providing resources, training, responsibility and authority;
  • Holds teams accountable for performance;
  • Shares successes with team members;
  • Monitors and evaluates team success and difficulty, and provides productive feedback.
Identifies Areas for and Supports Employee Development Opportunities
  • Provides information, tools, resources, and opportunities to help others improve their abilities;
  • Helps employees identify areas for development;
  • Supports appropriate employee development opportunities;
  • Gives people challenging assignments to develop their capabilities;
  • Promotes systems and processes that encourage and reward the development of people at all levels of the organization.
Leads Change / Achieves Support of Objectives
  • Helps employees quickly and effectively understand and adjust to new roles, challenges and changes in the University environment and in their jobs;
  • Stays up-to-date on key trends, and opportunities;
  • Initiates change instead of reacting to external pressures for change;
  • Makes sure technical/functional decisions are based on department priorities;
  • Uses available resources (people, funds, time, material, support) and coordinates/manages these components, including those outside the organization.
Strives to Achieve Diverse Staff at all Levels
  • Creates an environment where differences are valued, encouraged and supported;
  • Actively supports individuals for key positions regardless of differences.
Understands Diversity Issues and Creates Supportive Environment for Diverse Employees
  • Actively supports the development of others regardless of differences;
  • Respects the talent and unique contributions of every individual, culture and ethnic group to increase effectiveness of the unit;
  • Influences the culture in ways that value and support diversity.

Michigan State University, Human Resources, at https://www.hr.msu.edu/performance/supportstaff/competencies.htm, accessed 15 February 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 15 February 2016.

Image: MSU Human Resources, at https://www.hr.msu.edu/, accessed 15 February 2016.