Making Competencies More Meaningful using DISC Behavioural Styles

What are Behavioural Competencies?

Behavioural competencies encompass knowledge, skills, attitudes and actions. They help explain whether a certain action or behaviour comes naturally to a person or whether they require lots of focus and energy to complete the action or exhibit the behaviour. In a workplace setting, behavioural competencies help distinguish whether an employee might have a natural aptitude for the types of tasks and responsibilities required in their job role. Employees who have a natural behavioural fit toward competencies are more likely to stay in a job longer and complete tasks more efficiently, translating into more productivity and employee retention.

What is a Behavioural Competency Framework?

You probably work in an organisation that has spent a lot of time, effort and money to identify and define particular competencies that are needed to succeed in specific job positions. It is even quite possible that you were involved in developing the Competency Framework as a Consultant or HR Practitioner. Typically, these a Behavioural Competency Framework consists of a breakdown of measurable skills required to perform a particular role in the organisation. Additionally, competencies are often used as a basis for training by converting competencies to learning objectives.

The successful extensive use of the competency models has demonstrated that they can work very well. At the same time, you have probably seen models that are very confusing at best. Some of the competencies on the surface sound impressive, but in practice, leave the employees wondering if their organisation has completely lost all sense of reality and reason. In such cases, the models are ignored by the employees and have no impact in positively affecting their behaviour.

However, whether or not the competencies are well designed, one thing is sure: the competencies do not mean the same thing for every employee and all of them have their unique challenges in meeting them.

How to Measure a Behavioural Competency

The most effective and efficient way to measure a behavioural competency is with a behavioural assessment. Respondents complete a 8-10 minutes questionnaire which analyses their DISC personality style. The behavioural competency profiling tool then compares the person's results against specific behavioural competencies selected by a business that match against a job role. The intelligent algorithm then grades the competencies on a behaviour rating scale from -5 to 0 or 0 to +5. A grade below -1 means this competency would require more energy. A score from -1 to 1 means an individual can develop the competency comfortably. A score of 2 or more means this competency requires very little energy from you. As with the flexibility diamond, this does not mean you are not capable. It simply requires more energy. This is not a "can or cannot" scale.

Behavioural Competency Framework Example

Take Gabrielle and Luca, for example. They are both successful Regional Managers at a large financial services company. While there certainly are some aspects of their jobs that are different – most notably the different kinds of employees they manage and the unique interpersonal minefields they consequently have to navigate – essentially they are performing the very same jobs. Their performance is evaluated against the same criteria, and they both report to the same boss.

Part of Gabrielle and Luca's evaluation criterion is how well they perform against the 35 competencies that have been developed for the organisation's Regional Managers. One of those competencies is:

'Foresees issues and challenges and resolves them before anyone else sees a problem in the making.'

While we could certainly agree or disagree about the merits of this particular competency, let's focus on how Gabrielle and Luca deal with this one.

Gabrielle has been a Regional Manager for over two years. She was rather quickly promoted from a Branch Manager to Regional Manager as she quickly developed a reputation of getting things done fast. In fact, her assertive demeanour gained her a reputation of being able to turn around poorly performing branches. If there was a mess to be cleaned, Gabrielle was the person for the job. However, her direct, even blunt, behavioural style did not make her popular. But she was respected and perhaps, also feared.

Luca's reputation is very different. Although his physical presence was somewhat intimidating because of his tall and fit physique, he was well-known for being a very loyal and fair team player. While Luca frustrated some of his employees because of his deliberate and cautious approach, he was liked by all. Like Gabrielle, Luca was well respected. 

So how do Gabrielle and Luca approach this particular competency? What are their unique challenges?

Competency Analysis 

When Gabrielle foresees a problem, she already has a solution. She trusts her instincts entirely and confidently begins to implement the course of action she is confident will take care of the issue. The only problem Gabrielle perceives in these situations is that others simply do not share her sense of urgency. In Gabrielle's mind, they just move too slowly.

When Luca is faced with a problem, his reaction is often quite different. While he typically comes up with a solution very quickly, Luca usually begins to second-guess himself. "Maybe I need to think about this a little more", he often says to himself. "The solution cannot be this simple." Luca would then begin to think about the issue from almost every possible angle until the problem had grown, become complicated and intimidating in his mind. Luca often then becomes stressed.

Gabrielle and Luca are faced with the same situation that calls for the execution of the same competency. Yet their reactions are very different. Gabrielle shoots first then aims. Luca aims, re-aims, and then aims again.

So, how can we help both Gabrielle and Luca?


Many of our clients take a straightforward yet efficient approach. They make their competencies more specific and individual by taking into account how the different behavioural styles can more effectively address and implement them. Simply put, they add a DISC behavioural style dimension to each of their behaviourally-based competencies. By doing so, they can more meaningfully guide their different DISC styles of employees to succeed. 

For example, for Gabrielle, the additional guidance to address this competency is: Remember that sometimes the first solution is not the best.

For Luca, it is: Try not to overestimate the challenges and problems.

Of course, our clients have similar guidance provided to their other styles of employees. As a result, the competencies are more specific and meaningful. Employees now understand what they mean to ME.

Next time you review the competencies you have established for your employees, you may want to consider the implication they have on the different DISC profile types of employees. By doing so, you will guide them on the right path and equip them to perform their jobs better. The best part is that the competencies will have a more specific and practical meaning to your employees. As a result, the behaviours will begin to positively change.

What Behavioural Competencies Do We Have? 

We have over 1600 competencies sorted into 45 areas. See a full behavioural competency list below:

  1. Administration
  2. Animals in Us
  3. Behaviour Under Pressure
  4. Business Coaching
  5. Change Management
  6. Communication
  7. Communication / Listening
  8. Customer Service
  9. Data Management
  10. Decision-Making
  11. Entrepreneur
  12. Goal-Orientation
  13. Healthcare
  14. Industrial Security
  15. Influencing
  16. Learning Styles
  17. Member Services
  18. Motivating Work Environment
  19. Parenthood
  20. People Management
  21. Project
  22. Quality Management
  23. Relationship - Dating
  24. Relationship - Stable
  25. Restaurant / Kitchen
  26. Restaurant / Waiter
  27. Retail
  28. Sales
  29. Skills Development
  30. Specialist
  31. Sports - Coach
  32. Sports - Team Sports
  33. Sports / Coachability
  34. Strategy Development
  35. Stress / Cause of Stress
  36. Stress / Signs of Stress
  37. Stress / Stress Release
  38. Subordinate
  39. Supporting Others
  40. Systems Development
  41. Team
  42. Team Management
  43. Telesales
  44. Time Management
  45. Trainer


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