Knowledge Center

Definitions for the Engagement Area

Relational – A strong culture that places importance on relationships, connections and care throughout the entire institution. Employs specific skills that aid in how self and relationships are effectively managed. 

Each competency within the Engagement area can aid in achieving:

  • professional and personal bests
  • stakeholder buy-in, acceptance and value
  • team, institution and community results

At any given time, proficiency for each competency will fall at some point along the outer ring of the framework: Awareness, Application, Mastery, Influence.

The following competency definitions are offered as a guide and are to be used in conjunction with your institution's interpretation of how these competencies can be applied on your campus. 

Building Trust


The consistent demonstration of and adherence to ethical principles, values and practices that inspire confidence and strengthen working relationships.

In Action
  • Practicing open, honest and respectful communication in the workplace
  • Being considerate of all coworkers, employees and customers
  • Supporting others in achieving their professional goals and aspirations
  • Navigating problems with patience and compassion
  • Admitting and promptly addressing errors and mistakes
  • Acknowledging and celebrating the success of others
  • Following up on requests and inquiries in a timely manner
  • Encouraging others to practice behaviors that build trust and teamwork
Assessment Questions
  • How do you address your own professional mistakes?
  • How do you address the professional mistakes of others?
  • How do you react when you don’t have an answer for a particular question or situation?
  • How willing are you to help develop a newer or less experienced employee?
  • How do you think others in your organization perceive you?



The ability to foster camaraderie and encourage positive interpersonal relationships between individuals working toward common goals, purposes and objectives.

In Action
  • Participating in group icebreaker activities
  • Participating in or coordinating team-building events and activities
  • Contributing ideas, thoughts and suggestions to departmental meetings
  • Gathering and leading a group to support a specific project
  • Establishing team goals, roles and expectations
  • Encouraging team efforts with positive feedback and reward mechanisms
  • Engaging in de-escalation and mediation techniques to facilitate conflict resolution
Assessment Questions
  • What opportunities have you had to work within a team?
  • Have you had any leadership roles within a team?
  • What or what do you think is your leadership style?
  • What strategies or approaches would you use to introduce a new team?
  • What sort of annual or ongoing team-building events does your organization provide?
  • Have you been a participant in team-building activities or events before?
  • Have you organized any team-building activities or events?
  • What strategies or approaches do you use to create harmony within a team?
  • How do you or how would you manage interpersonal conflict within your team?
  • How do you or how would you navigate professional disagreements within your team?

Self-Awareness and Accountability


The ability to recognize and accept responsibility for your own thoughts, words and actions.

In Action
  • Creating and following an individual development plan
  • Participating in voluntary professional development and skills training
  • Proactively seeking feedback and input from others on your own performance
  • Taking constructive feedback into consideration
  • Taking responsibility for your own mistakes and identifying opportunities for improvement
Assessment Questions
  • Do you readily admit to your mistakes or oversights?
  • Do you readily recognize your own achievements and contributions?
  • What are your professional strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have you participated in your own individual development plan?
  • How comfortable are you receiving constructive feedback or criticism?
  • Do you feel you are proactive in seeking opportunities for growth?

Relationship Management


The development and management of interactions with and between others, undertaken with the end goals of service and institutional success.

In Action
  • Collaborating with others on projects and processes
  • Practicing open communication to effectively identify goals and challenges
  • Being an active and interested listener
  • Consistently delivering on promises
  • Engaging in de-escalation and mediation techniques to facilitate conflict resolution
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have collaborating professionally with others?
  • Are you generally aware of different working styles and tendencies?
  • How confident are you in your ability to communicate clearly?
  • What strategies or approaches do you use to connect with others?
  • How do you manage clashing personalities in the workplace?
  • What strategies or approaches do you or would you use to resolve personal conflicts or disagreements between others?
  • What challenges have you had to navigate when building rapport with others?

Constructive Inquiry


The ability to ask productive questions in order to evoke clarity and aid in providing solutions.

In Action
  • Awareness and utilization of organization-specific information sources, such as intranet systems, handbooks and other employees with experience or expertise
  • Requesting clarification or confirmation when something is unclear
  • Analyzing processes, proposals and projects to identify areas of objective ambiguity
  • Asking pointed or targeted questions of a process, proposal or project
  • Thinking through a process, proposal or project and asking questions based on potential contingencies
  • Considering divergent perspectives for processes, proposals or projects, as well as how these different perspectives may result in alternate approaches and needs
Assessment Questions
  • Do you feel you have an inherent sense of curiosity?
  • How comfortable are you with thinking creatively?
  • Are you comfortable voicing questions?
  • Are you comfortable with being asked questions?
  • How confident are you in your ability to analyze or evaluate ideas?
  • What information do you consider most critical when developing a new plan, process, proposal or other project?
  • What resources, methods or networks do you use to gather information?



The ability to interact across organizational, cultural and professional boundaries.

In Action
  • Working with other peers, teams or departments to achieve set goals and outcomes
  • Recognizing and being able to adjust to different working styles
  • Inviting others to contribute to group efforts and discussions
  • Taking others’ opinions, ideas and feedback into consideration
  • Ensuring goals, updates and expectations are communicated clearly and regularly to all involved in a particular project
Assessment Questions
  • What opportunities have you encountered for collaboration?
  • What additional opportunities for collaboration can you identify?
  • How often do you work with others within your department?
  • How often do you work with others outside of your department?
  • How comfortable are you sharing your ideas and feedback with others?
  • How confident are you in your ability to communicate clearly?
  • What strategies or approaches do you or would you use to resolve a conflict between yourself and someone with whom you must collaborate?



The values, principles, standards and rules that guide an individual’s behavior and conduct, both in personal and professional settings.

In Action
  • Being familiar with and abiding by your organization’s code of conduct and values
  • Enforcing values and code of conduct standards with others in the organization
  • Providing advice and guidance on the organization’s code of conduct and values
  • Evaluating all decisions and employment actions in order to maintain compliance with the organization’s code of conduct and values
  • Reporting ethical violations or concerns through appropriate channels
Assessment Questions
  • Are you familiar with your institution’s mission, values and code of conduct?
  • Are you confident in your ability to abide by and model your institution’s values and code of conduct?
  • Are you familiar with reporting procedures for ethical concerns?
  • What experience do you have enforcing your institution’s values or code of conduct?



The ability to present and receive information, both written and verbal, in an effective and understandable manner.

In Action
  • Conducting presentations on trainings, proposals, reports and other information
  • Reaching out to peers via e-mails, phone calls or in person discussions
  • Authoring and distributing regular newsletters or other updates
  • Creating flyers, handouts, posters or other collateral to communicate specific information or initiatives
  • Maintaining institutional websites, web pages, intranet pages or announcement boards
  • Writing reports, proposals, messaging for stakeholders or other copy
  • Practicing active and attentive listening
  • Serving as a first point of employee contact
Assessment Questions
  • How confident are you in both your written and verbal communication ability?
  • How often do you share your ideas, feedback and thoughts?
  • Are you comfortable voicing questions and concerns?
  • What do you feel differentiates effective from ineffective communication?
  • How and how often does communication play a key role in your responsibilities?
  • What communication methods or styles are you most familiar with (ex: reports, marketing, public speaking)?
  • What communication methods or styles would you like to improve upon (ex: reports, marketing, public speaking)?
  • How do you or how would you navigate a miscommunication or misunderstanding?
  • How do you or how would you guide others in effective communication practices?

Cultural Competence/DEI


An individual’s commitment to shaping and cultivating an institutional culture that values equity, diversity and inclusion, demonstrated through continuing education and action.

In Action
  • Updating policies and practices with inclusive language
  • Creating or leading diversity training for employees
  • Ensuring compliance with state and federal non-discrimination, equal opportunity and equal access regulations
  • Participating in external DEI programs and training to build knowledge and skill
  • Evaluating hiring practices and suggesting strategies to achieve a diverse candidate pool
  • Engaging in the interactive process to support employees with disabilities or religious needs
  • Working to raise campus awareness of diverse groups, cultures and needs
  • Communicating the importance of DEI initiatives to leadership
  • Collaborating with diverse stakeholder groups to support DEI initiatives
  • Facilitating and moderating DEI discussions
Assessment Questions
  • Are you familiar with state and federal regulations surrounding DEI (ex: ADA, ADEA, USERRA, Title VII, Title IX, etc.)?
  • What strategies and approaches do you employ to encourage support for DEI?
  • How involved are you with any DEI work happening at your institution?
  • What opportunities for additional DEI efforts can you identify for your campus?
  • What actions have you taken personally to support your own understanding of DEI?



The ability to inspire trust, often as a result of behaving in a consistent manner, helping others, accomplishing work and communicating effectively.

In Action
  • Consistently fulfilling obligations and expectations
  • Providing accurate and timely information
  • Giving, receiving and acting upon constructive feedback
  • Taking initiative to help and support others
  • Seeking help when necessary
  • Taking ownership of your own mistakes
  • Engaging in continuous improvement and education
  • Maintaining confidentiality (when doing so does not conflict with compliance, policy or institutional values)
Assessment Questions
  • Do you consider yourself a credible person? Why or why not?
  • What steps do you take to establish your credibility with others?
  • What steps do you take to maintain your credibility once established?
  • How do you or how would you manage your credibility being questioned?



The act of providing advice, feedback and guidance to others with the intent of modifying ineffective behaviors, encouraging effective behaviors or strengthening specific knowledge, skills and abilities.

In Action
  • Providing informal advice or guidance relating to an employee’s performance
  • Identifying and complimenting positive behaviors or work when encountered
  • Verbally redirecting negative behaviors or work when encountered
  • Offering informal training by demonstrating a skill or task
  • Providing immediate informal feedback
  • Delivering informal warnings to address undesirable behaviors or performance before escalating to official disciplinary action
  • Conducting regular informal check-ins with subordinates
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have being coached?
  • What experience do you have coaching others?
  • What skills do you feel are essential to the coaching process?
  • In what situations would you coach an employee, peer or subordinate?
  • What methods or approaches do you use to deliver feedback?
  • When do you believe coaching should be elevated to a more formal process?



The process of fostering the professional growth of others by the giving of time, knowledge and advice.

In Action
  • Engaging in informal coaching activities
  • Lending expertise to internal skill development sessions or individual training
  • Connecting mentors with mentees within the organization
  • Guiding others on the mentoring process and proper mentoring strategies
  • Providing constructive feedback in support of an employee’s development
  • Supporting an employee through their own individual development plan
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have being mentored?
  • What experience do you have mentoring others?
  • How do you help others connect with mentors or mentees?
  • What methods or approaches do you use to deliver feedback?
  • How do you or how would you motivate or encourage a disengaged mentee?
  • Do you feel able to identify and effectively communicate someone else’s strengths and opportunities for improvement?
  • What methods, strategies or approaches do you or would you employ to track a mentee’s progress toward their goals?
  • What methods, strategies or approaches do you or would you use to transition out of a mentor/mentee relationship when appropriate or necessary?