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Helpful Examples In Using Competencies

Successful employees demonstrate outstanding performance in workplace competencies such as accountability, communication, inclusiveness, initiative, work quality, job knowledge, and conceptual thinking. Managers can assess employees’ competencies by using the examples below as a guide when writing performance reviews.


An employee who excels in this area: reports to work regularly, on time, and is accountable during the workday; cooperates and interacts with employees inside and outside of the work unit contributing to improved operations; aligns individual efforts with University and unit goals; takes ownership of work and is accountable for outcomes; is aware of and follows University policies and procedures; establishes trust and respect by following through on commitments; completes tasks and assignments with minimal supervision; and is committed to meeting deadlines.

For example, to describe your employee’s accountability in your performance review, you might say that they:

  • Demonstrate consistency in the approach and delivery of work.
  • Build relationships across organizational and functional boundaries.
  • Handle sensitive information and issues with discretion and tact.
  • Take personal responsibility for outcomes.
  • Make decisions based on sound judgment.
  • Model the behavior that you expect of yourself and others.
  • Follow through on commitments and agreements.

An employee who excels in this area: demonstrates clear, timely, and consistent speaking, listening and written communications; listens and seeks clarification and responds clearly to questions; listens actively and communicates to others to build trusting relationships; provides communication that is clear, grammatically correct, effective and relative to the needs and scope for one’s role; relates effectively to all levels of the institution; and fosters connections and a collaborative approach.

For example, to describe your employee’s communication skills in your performance review, you might say that they:

  • Present information that is clear and informative.
  • Effectively and consistently communicate the organization’s strategy and operational goals.
  • Help develop and translate strategy into operational goals and priorities.
  • Create reports, memorandums, emails, and other required paperwork efficiently, error-free, and in a timely manner.
  • Tailor message and tone to be understood by the receiving audience.
  • Communicate with credibility and confidence.
  • Speak directly, promptly and tactfully to address concerns.
  • Ask questions to seek clarity.

An employee who excels in this area: actively creates and supports an inclusive and equitable workplace by embedding diversity into all aspects of the workplace. This may include policies, procedures, training, mission, values, goals, office climate and culture, interactions with colleagues and co-workers, leadership practices, programming, hiring, marketing, evaluation, promotion, and other workplace dimensions.

For example, to describe your employee’s inclusivity in your performance review, you might say that they:

  • Build knowledge of and seek improvement in areas of cultural awareness.
  • Seek out opportunities to attend and join the diversity and inclusion efforts on campus, such as events, training, workshops, classes and committees.
  • Demonstrate skills and behaviors on the job related to competencies learned in diversity and inclusion training.
  • Seek and consider perspectives from people different than oneself.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to improving the climate for historically underrepresented constituencies; e.g., people of color; those with disabilities; those of different sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, religion, and new immigrant populations, etc.
  • Strive to manage differences with skill and sensitivity, accepting diverse ideas and differing points of view.
  • Identify ways to recruit and retain underrepresented employees.

An employee who excels in this area: contributes fresh ideas that provide solutions to the work in one’s role or beyond, where relevant; identifies ways to stay current in one’s role and to meet organizational needs; uses sound judgement to develop new insights into situations and applies different and novel solutions to make improvements; and utilizes analytical and conceptual abilities to formulate a practical plan with positive impact. This competency is focused on turning ideas into action, thinks beyond the immediate imperative to the future, and challenges norms with innovative thinking and approaches.

For example, to describe your employee’s initiative in your performance review, you might say that they:

  • Seek out and be proactive in assuming additional responsibilities.
  • Have visionary ideas and turns ideas into action.
  • Generate suggestions for improving work.
  • Share unique and creative ideas that improve products, services, or processes.
  • Contribute to creating an environment that fosters creativity.
  • Take intelligent risk to promote progress.
Work Quality

An employee who excels in this area: demonstrates a commitment to quality by taking pride in one’s work, striving for excellence and delivering the best possible results; completes work assignments thoroughly and in an accurate, prompt, and organized manner; identifies and corrects errors; pays attention to detail; looks for opportunities to improve outcomes and generates ideas for building process efficiencies; utilizes feedback to improve work and builds on previous learnings; and welcomes constructive feedback and monitors own work to ensure quality.

For example, to describe your employee’s quality of work in your performance review, you might say that they:

  • Actively seek new ways of working to improve productivity and efficiency.
  • Set and maintain exceptional work standards and expectations.
  • Fact-check work and seek input for best possible impact.
  • Develop and share best practices.
  • Design processes to anticipate problems and develop contingency plans.
  • Develop and maintain systems for monitoring work quality.
  • Generate and track performance measures.
Job Knowledge

An employee who excels in this area demonstrates the appropriate level of proficiency in the principles and practices of one’s role; exhibits a commitment to continuous improvement, including understanding and application of essential skills, practices, policies, procedures and resources necessary to be successful.

For example, to describe your employee’s job knowledge in your performance review, you might say that they:

  • Exhibit understanding of job responsibilities.
  • Seek opportunities to expand their knowledge base by attending workshops, conferences, and training to enhance skills.
  • Grasp and apply new concepts.
  • Work toward becoming a resource for others.
Conceptual Thinking

An employee who excels in this area: demonstrates the ability to identify problems and make decisions; exhibits critical thinking, logical thinking, multitasking, and troubleshooting ability; and possesses the ability to devise solutions to abstract problems which involves thinking outside the box.

For example, to describe your employee’s conceptual thinking skills in your performance review, you might say that they:

  • Reflect on projects and project outcomes.
  • Apply a variety of ideas to problems.
  • Create brainstorming activity toward the goal of problem solving.
  • Are an abstract thinker who can take existing concepts and apply in new contexts.