If you’ve ever watched ‘Scent of a Woman’, you might remember a powerful speech made by Colonel Slade. Played by Al Pacino, Slade describes how throughout his life, he always knew what the right path was, but never took it because it was too hard. Yet Charlie, played by a young Chris O’Donnell, has chosen a path of principle that will lead to character, and Slade implores the school committee to see this and consider Charlie’s future.

I remember listening to that monologue over and over again, trying to comprehend the full meaning of it.

There is ambiguity over whether Charlie’s actions were right or wrong, Colonel Slade says so himself, but there is no ambiguity over his integrity. Charlie has strong ethical standards and values and, regardless of the consequences, he sticks to them.

The lesson here is that we will all experience difficult situations in our lives and have to make tough choices. There’s no way of knowing whether we are always making the right choices, but what’s more important is why we have chosen a particular path. What beliefs and convictions led to those choices?

When we talk about behavioural competencies in an organisation, we’re outlining the values that we want employees to believe in and stick to.

Let’s imagine one of your company values is trust, what does that really mean to an employee? Behavioural competencies are defining how you need to behave, and what you need to do every day so that you build trust with people.

Understanding Behavioural Competencies

Competencies are different from the responsibilities listed in a job description or a job evaluation process, which focus on what people are required to do. Behavioural competencies define how we expect them to do this.

By evaluating these attributes, you can make informed decisions during the hiring process, identify areas for employee development, and create effective strategies for organisational planning and growth.

Types of Behavioural Competencies

There are several types of behavioural competencies that are essential for success in the workplace.

1. Analytical Competency

Analytical competency involves the ability to effectively analyse and interpret data, solve problems, and make informed decisions. These individuals possess technical know-how and a keen eye for detail, allowing them to navigate complex situations and provide valuable insights to drive business growth.

2. Individual Competency

This includes employees’ confidence level, ability to handle challenges, self-motivation, and adaptability. Employees with strong individual competency possess excellent problem-solving skills, can effectively manage their time and priorities, and have a positive mindset that enables them to thrive in dynamic work environments.

3. Interpersonal Competency

This refers to an individual’s ability to communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and build strong relationships. Employees with strong interpersonal skills are adept at working in teams, resolving conflicts, and fostering a positive work environment.

4. Managerial Competency

Managerial competency is not limited to individuals in managerial positions but describes the ability to effectively manage tasks, projects, and teams. Employees will possess leadership skills, decision-making abilities, and excellent organisational and planning skills. They can effectively delegate responsibilities, set goals, and motivate team members to achieve desired outcomes.

5. Motivational Competency

Motivational competency refers to an individual’s ability to uplift and inspire others. They excel at boosting team morale, driving engagement, and creating a supportive and motivational work environment. These individuals play a vital role in enhancing team performance and fostering a culture of excellence within the organisation.

Benefits of Behavioural Competencies in the Workplace

Employing and recognising these attributes in the workplace offers numerous benefits for organisations of all sizes and industries.

1. Performance Management

Behavioural competencies provide a common language and shared understanding of expected workplace behaviours, performance standards, and organisational values. By establishing clear behavioural expectations, you can align your workforce and create a cohesive and productive work environment.

This also helps managers to be objective when assessing performance—avoiding bias and ensuring policies are consistent throughout your organisation.

2. Objective Recruitment and Hiring

By incorporating behavioural competencies into the recruitment and hiring process, you can ensure fair and objective evaluation of candidates. Assessing candidates in this way eliminates bias and enables you to recruit and retain people who share your organisational values and possess the desired capabilities.

Not only does this lead to exceptional performance and career fulfilment but allows you to ask relevant questions to all candidates.

As a result, you can reduce the time investment from HR and managers by only interviewing candidates that are likely to align with your desired competencies.

3. Employee Development and Growth

Behavioural competencies serve as a roadmap for employee development and growth, allowing you to develop learning opportunities that align with your organisational values.

This enables employees to focus on the skills and behaviours that have the most impact in their roles while being reassured that there is a framework in place for ongoing coaching, development and feedback.

4. Organisational Planning and Succession

Behavioural competencies play a vital role in succession planning, including high-potential identification and leadership development. You can recognise and promote employees who demonstrate and continue to develop the desired behaviours by identifying employees with the necessary competencies.

You will also be able to gauge which employees have the capacity to take on more responsibility and identify potential skills gaps. This proactive approach to planning and development ensures the long-term success and sustainability of the organisation.


Many organisations evaluate their employees annually, looking at both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. However, while objectives are typically set for employees, establishing clear expectations with behavioural competencies is often put at the bottom of any to-do list.

We may have a value of ‘showing integrity’, but how does an employee demonstrate integrity in the workplace on a day-to-day basis as part of their role? We need to define this clearly to ensure employees can carry out their responsibilities effectively.