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

Competencies
  • Uses trust as the basis for a successful culture, effective communication and building stable working relationships.
  • Knows that trust is confidence born out of two dimensions: character (includes integrity, motive and intent) and confidence (capabilities, skills, results and track record) [Covey, The Speed of Trust], and applies these specific skills to build and strengthen working relationships.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands what it takes to be trustworthy between co-workers and among the team
  • Can express the values of trust/honesty; understands the importance of trust

Application

  • Is trusted and seen as a truthful individual; presents truthful information
  • Helps other navigate trust amount the team; is trusted to keep confidences

Mastery

  • Consistently adheres to ethical principles and walks the walk for others to follow suit; keeps confidences even while being pressured to compromise
  • Based on consistent practice; is respected as a credible source and a proven confidant

Influence

  • Is known to encourage and demonstrate what a respectful and trusting environment looks like – for self, team and campus; keeps confidences and protects sensitive information
  • Influences the value of building trust on campus
Sample Interview Questions
  • Keeping confidence can be difficult at times. Describe a situation in which you were entrusted with someone’s issues at work and affected the team’s performance. What did you do? What did you say to the individual confiding in you?
  • To build a team takes a foundation built on trust. How do / would you build a team supported by trust?
  • Trust sometimes involves admitting shortcomings, mistakes or doing something that is unpopular with others. Share a situation in which you had to share something you wish you didn’t have to. What ultimately happened? Would you do differently if faced with the same instance again?
  • Under what circumstances have you found it justifiable to break a professional confidence?

Team-Building

Competencies
  • Fosters a working atmosphere conducive to collaborative efforts.
  • Solicit ideas and suggestions to accomplish team, department and/or institution goals.
  • Fosters camaraderie and common purpose.
  • Invites feedback and incorporates suggestions to achieve collective objectives.
  • Establishes positive interpersonal and team relationships.
  • Employs reward mechanisms for team effort and mentality.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Can coordinate staff into teams; understands the importance of building a team environment
  • Aware of team dynamics, importance of team objective and goals and team dynamics

Application

  • Fosters camaraderie and common purpose; recognizes when team dynamics go awry
  • Builds positive interpersonal and team relationships; aids in soliciting ideas, feedback and suggestions

Mastery

  • Sets a positive and cohesive tone and expectations for team building; reminds about common purpose; encourages camaraderie
  • Establishes reward mechanisms; rewards and reinforces positive interpersonal and team dynamics; shares wins and successes with others.

Influence

  • Can simultaneously and successfully build teams; is able to pull teams together without issue
  • Builds mission-driven, cohesive teams that project a team spirit that inspires and motivates other teams and departments
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe a team experience you found disappointing. What would you have done to prevent this?
  • Describe a team experience you found rewarding.
  • Describe your leadership style and give an example of a situation when you successfully led a group.
  • If there’s a weak link in your team that’s impacting productivity how would you approach the problem?
  • Give an example of how you have been successful at empowering a group of people in accomplishing a task.
  • Please give your best example of working cooperatively as a team member to accomplish an important goal. What was the goal or objective? To what extent did you interact with others on this project?
  • Tell us about a time that you had to work on a team that did not get along. What happened? What role did you take? What was the result?
  • When working on a team project have you ever had an experience where there was strong disagreement among team members? What did you do?
  • What do you see as most important team values? What do you value most about being part of this team? What’s the number one positive thing about being a team member? How has it brought fulfillment and purpose to your personal life?

Self-Awareness and Accountability

Competencies
  • Identifies individual challenges and seeks opportunities to grow.
  • Takes steps to evaluate and improve performance.
  • Seeks feedback from others and uses other sources of information to identify appropriate areas for learning.
  • Demonstrates an interest in and pursues appropriate learning activities that fulfill self-development/learning needs.
  • Applies new technical and business information/knowledge to practical use on the job.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Knows the importance of accountability and doesn’t yet [need to] do it; seldom in situations to hold accountable for self and on behalf of the team
  • Needs constant guidance about being accountable in situations and for the team

Application

  • Accountable in everyday and difficult situations; regularly found in situations to be held accountable for self and on behalf of the team
  • Needs regular guidance about being accountable in situations and for the team

Mastery

  • Consistently taking responsibility and being accountable in difficult situations; handles being accountable with everyday matters with ease; sets the tone for being accountable for others and team
  • Rarely, if at all needs guidance about being accountable in situations or for self and team; follows through on commitments

Influence

  • Leads the way on what it takes to be accountable in all situations, especially difficult ones. Able to influence behavior with other campus individuals
  • Valued as a trusted individual, key resource and helps others; helps other see impact of one’s behavior on others
Sample Interview Questions
  • Recall a time when you were less than pleased with your performance? What was the issue and how did you come about recognizing and taking responsibility for your performance?
  • Describe a goal you successfully achieved.
  • If there were one area you’ve always wanted to improve upon, what would that be? In what ways are you trying to improve yourself?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • What do you consider to be your professional strengths?
  • What was the most useful criticism you ever received?

Relationship Management

Competencies

Develops and manages interactions with and between others with the specified aims of service and institutional success.

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Relates well to peers and to those in positions of authority; is a team player; cooperative
  • Knows the importance of knowing how others work in individual and team settings

Application

  • Helps others to identify positive relationship cues as well as roadblocks; looks for common ground and helps to get to a solution
  • Advises others on individual and team dynamics; knows own interests and how to collaborate/negotiate in group dynamics

Mastery

  • Leads the way in how relationships are managed and sustained; coaches on roadblocks and seen as credible and fair conciliator; finds common ground
  • Values all experiences, learns and grows from them; encourages collaboration and gains trust and support of others

Influence

  • Sets the tone for how relationships are managed across campus; responds and relates extremely well to people in all positions; with ease demonstrates diplomacy and fosters goodwill
  • Role model from learning from experiences; already has trust and support of others; leverages relationships
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe specific actions you have taken to promote a cooperative team environment, even when others around you were negative or uncooperative. What did you do and what were the results?
  • Think back to a time when you took the lead in arriving at a solution that mostly satisfied all parties. What approach did you use to find common ground? To what extent did you get advice from others?
  • It is very important to build good relationships at work but sometimes it doesn’t always work. If you can, tell about a time when you were not able to build a successful relationship with a difficult person.
  • Tell us about a time when you built rapport with someone under difficult conditions. What was the outcome?
  • What, in your opinion, are the key ingredients to building and maintaining successful work relationships?
  • Being successful on the job often depends upon having good relationships with others. Tell about a time that you were able to accomplish a task because you had such a relationship with another person and how this impacted your work.

Constructive Inquiry

Competencies
  • As a part of Appreciative Inquiry, employs positive or constructive questions to: discover what strategies have been successful to date and how success was achieved; unearth future possibilities; create change and improvement ideas to reach an ideal, future state; and collaborate to implement positive changes [Leading Positive Change Through Appreciative Inquiry, Case Western Reserve].
  • Uses constructive questions that enable effective and ongoing discussions with others.
  • Uses constructive questions to help understand others, understand others' perspectives and reach a common goal.
  • Asks about why things and people work the way they do.
  • Stays curious and open to new information, opinions and experiences.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Rarely demonstrates inquiry methods; has limited information about how to conduct constructive inquiry
  • Attempts to analyze, evaluate and craft questions; rarely acts upon asking questions

Application

  • Demonstrates inquiry methods; has a fair amount of information and demonstrates constructive inquiry on a regular basis
  • Analyzes, evaluates and crafts questions; regularly acts upon asking questions and uses follow-up questions; learns from practicing constructive inquiry

Mastery

  • Frequently demonstrates inquiry methods and trains others to do the same; has substantial knowledge about constructive inquiry
  • Frequently curious and uses constructive inquiry with team and outside the team; shares lessons about inquiry and draws upon that experience to develop resources for team and campus

Influence

  • Influencer on constructive inquiry process; helps others relate and understand the value of understanding other perspectives
  • Role model in how going about being curious, interested in others' opinions, and valuing the journey to common ground
Sample Interview Questions

https://positivepsychology.com/appreciative-inquiry-questions/

  • Tell us about a time when you had to make a split-second decision regarding work-related issue; and how did you handle it?
  • Describe a time when you asked the right questions for a work project. What types of questions did you ask and to whom?
  • Describe a time when you didn’t ask the right questions for a work project, and possibly asked the wrong individuals. What happened, and what did you learn from that experience?
  • Describe a problem that you faced in a former position. How did you deal with the issue creatively? What types of questions help you to achieve or get closer to a resolution?
  • Describe an opportunity that you encountered in a former position. How did you deal with the issue creatively? What types of questions help you to achieve or get closer to a resolution?
  • Tell us how you go about gaining further information about a project, issue or deadline. What have you found most successful in doing to gain this information?

Collaboration

Competencies
  • Share ideas and resources and encourages others to do the same.
  • Spends time to establish a collaborative process, sets clear goals and discovers how to achieve the goals within a supportive culture.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the importance of working with peers/others; is collaborative
  • Recognizes everyone’s responsibilities and behaviors in a collaborative setting

Application

  • Helps others to create a collaborative work environment and recognize potential roadblocks; looks for commonalities to accomplish tasks
  • Shares ideas and resources; encourages others to share ideas and resources, too

Mastery

  • Establishes the collaborative process; role models collaborative spirit; sets clear goals; discovers and share how to achieve goals within collaborative culture
  • Values all input and encourages everyone to contribute to discussion, tasks, and end results

Influence

  • Influences the collaborative process across campus; leads efforts in revealing a successful collaborative culture; others seek support and advice from individual.
  • Has trust and support from the top to create collaborative culture and trust of others to deliver
Sample Interview Questions
  • Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?
  • Tell me about a time when you were communicating with someone and they did not understand you. What did you do?
  • Tell me about one of your favorite experiences working with a team and your contribution.
  • What do believe are the core steps required to ensure a collaborative work environment?
  • Describe the ways in which you are more energized by, first, working alone and then second, the ways you are more energized by collaborating with other individuals.

Ethics

Competencies
  • Adheres to a set of core values that are represented in decisions, actions and behaviors.
  • Understands and applies knowledge of, and promotes compliance with, appropriate statutes, regulations, policies and procedures.
  • Provides advice and guidance regarding federal and state ethics statutes, regulations, and institution policies and procedures.
  • Actively takes a stand for based on beliefs and values.
  • Makes decisions without being swayed by political expediency or benefit.
  • Considers ethical implications based on employee or institution activity.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the core values that are represented in actions and behaviors.
  • Considers ethical implications based on employee or institution activity.

Application

  • Applies knowledge of, and promotes compliance with appropriate statutes, regulations, policies, and procedures.
  • Actively takes a stand based on beliefs and values.

Mastery

  • Makes decisions without being swayed by political expediency or benefit.
  • Provides advice and guidance regarding federal and state ethics statues, and regulations

Influence

  • Considered the go-to person to interpret the law surrounding ethics, and institution policies and procedures
  • Role model for following ethical behavior and practices. Encourages others without asking to do the same
Sample Interview Questions
  • What do you believe makes an ethical workplace?
  • Tell me about a time that you were challenged ethically.
  • I see you’ve worked with people from different cultures. What ethics and values did you find you had in common, and where did you differ?
  • When you’ve had ethical issues arise at work, with whom did you consult?
  • What do you consider to be the most ethical qualities about [choose one or more]: an individual a team an institution?
  • Formulate a question(s) that would be specific to your group or division/department:
    • “What would you do if you thought a manager was ___________?"
    • "If you thought a colleague was undermining you, and you had a chance to look through their email, would you do it?"
    • "What would you do if a vendor offered you a ‘bonus’ for continuing their contract?”

Communications

Competencies
  • Listens to others and communicates in an effective manner.
  • Effectively presents and receives information and concepts in both written and oral formats.
  • Actively listens to ensure understanding.
  • Speaks and writes effectively and compellingly.
  • Demonstrates how to professionally resolve communication concerns.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands information shared by others and able to communicate opinion to others; communicates with others
  • Assists with providing information to others; seeks further guidance or information for clarity

Application

  • Generates communication templates and department communications with ease; effectively communicates department offerings and addresses questions; uses good judgment
  • Sometimes communicates with senior management and solicits feedback from them; listens well to others

Mastery

  • Fluent in business language with team and senior leaders; no issue in communicating messages or presenting to various audience types and situations; communicates articulately with everyone
  • Leads communication style and tone; excellent judgment; actively listens

Influence

  • Leads in business language and communication that encourages openness, respect and trust. Implements team and campus-wide communication directives, policies and initiatives
  • Communications with all campus individuals equally; frequently seeks feedback for continuous improvement methods
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe a situation when you were able to strengthen a relationship by communicating effectively. What made your communication effective?
  • Describe a situation where you felt you had not communicated well. How did you correct the situation?
  • Describe a time when you were able to effectively communicate a difficult or unpleasant idea to a coworker.
  • Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co‐workers or group? How did you do it? Did they “buy” it? Have you had to “sell” an idea to your co‐workers, classmates or group? How did you do it? Did they “buy” it?
  • How do you keep staff informed about information that affects their jobs?
  • How do you keep your manager informed about what is being done in your work area?
  • How do you go about explaining a complex technical problem to a person who does not understand the technical jargon?
  • Tell about a time when you and your current/previous supervisor disagreed but you still found a way to get your point across.
  • Describe a time when you had to present complex information. How did you ensure that the other person or group understood?
  • Tell about a situation when you had to speak up (be assertive) in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  • Describe a challenge that has occurred while you were coordinating work with other units, departments, and/or divisions?
  • What have you done to improve your verbal or written communication skills?
  • Describe how listening plays a major role in how you communicate.

Cultural Competence/DEI

Competencies
  • Demonstrates knowledge of the elements of organizational culture and exhibits an awareness of aligning workplace programs and policies to support and foster that culture.
  • Identifies problem areas or inconsistencies in individual, team and institution behaviors and attitudes that do not align with the desired culture, and addresses and resolves those inconsistencies.

CUPA-HR’s Position Statement: Inclusion Cultivates Excellence

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Able to work effectively with a diverse range of people; supports diversity, equity and inclusion efforts
  • Understands value in having a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus; open to diverse thought and seeing others’ perspectives

Application

  • Supports and manages DEI resources, training and communications; seeks other department DEI views; implements campus accommodations
  • Deals effectively with DEI matters; actively seeks and integrates diverse thoughts and perspectives

Mastery

  • Leads DEI campus culture; develops DEI communications and training programs; stays current with DEI trends; identifies opportunities to improve DEI efforts
  • Leads efforts for DEI goals, objectives and responsibilities for team and other departments; encourages DEI goals into overall campus strategy

Influence

  • Influences campus culture and what it means to appreciate DEI; creates climate that respects DEI; premier educator on DEI efforts
  • Reputation for leading diverse thoughts and perspectives; a campus climate of inclusion that integrates ideas from many voices
Sample Interview Questions
  • Give a specific example of how you have helped create an environment where differences are valued, encouraged and supported.
  • What have you done to further your knowledge/understanding about diversity, equity and inclusion? How have you acted on what you’ve learned?
  • What have you done to help others further their knowledge/understanding about diversity, equity and inclusion? What happened? What was the outcome?
  • Share a situation that demonstrates your ability to create a climate in which valuing diversity, equity and inclusion are the norm.
  • Some of the best solutions are created when diversity of thought is present in the planning and solution development stages. Share a time that showcases your ability to create such an environment.
  • Describe a time when you saw that diversity of thought was not accepted. How did you handle it?
  • Give a specific example of how you have helped create an environment where differences are valued,  encouraged and supported.
  • Tell us about a time that you successfully adapted to a culturally different environment.
  • Tell us about a time when you made an intentional effort to get to know someone from another culture. What have you done to further your knowledge/understanding about diversity?
  • How have you demonstrated your learning?  What have you done to support diversity in your unit?

Credibility

Competencies
  • Instills trust in others and self.
  • Leads by example and encourages others to do the same.
  • Assumes responsibility for making decisions and for the results.
  • Fulfills all commitments and obligations on time and accurately.
  • Accepts responsibility for compliance with rules and regulations.
  • Establishes policies reflecting a strong support of institutional responsibility.
  • Takes positive action to meet growing responsibility.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the importance of doing a good job and forming positive relationships
  • Knows and adheres to the importance centered around fulfilling commitments and obligations in a timely and accurate manner

Application

  • Helps to instill trust in others by providing accurate and timely information; practices  support of institutional responsibility
  • Established as credible with peers and other colleagues; encourages others to practice the same behavior

Mastery

  • Leads others in the ability to be a credible individual for the team and the rest of the institution; strongly supports institutional responsibility practices.
  • Writes the policies and practices for departments and institution; accepts responsibility for compliance with rules and regulations.

Influence

  • Initiates and challenges everyone to practice credible behavior
  • Influences the positive action needed to meet growing responsibility in the immediate area, and with the entire campus
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe what you believe to be the most essential qualities of credibility and why.
  • How would you go about establishing your credibility with your leader and your peers?
  • How would you go about establishing your credibility with your team?
  • Describe a time you lost credibility. What happened and what did you do to reestablish it?
  • What have you found to be most rewarding when working with others with credibility?
  • If your credibility was questioned, how would you respond?
  • Tell us about a time you knew you were right about a certain situation but still had to follow instructions. What do you do and what was ultimately the outcome?

Coaching

Competencies
  • Fosters and encourages performance excellence.
  • Employs strategies for modifying ineffective or undesirable behaviors and attitudes.
  • Provides advice and feedback to those in need.
  • Provides timely guidance and feedback resources to help others strengthen specific Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) needed to accomplish professional goals, develop skills or solve a problem.
  • Guides employees and shows sincere interest in them.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the importance of helping others; aware of the importance of showing interest in others
  • Thinks about the issues and types of responses to help others achieve goals; thinks about strategies to work through behaviors/attitudes

Application

  • Employs strategies for modifying behaviors and attitudes; provides advice and feedback; encourages effective performance
  • Connects behaviors with knowledge, skills and behaviors (KSAs) to help develop others and achieve goals; guides others with sincere interest

Mastery

  • Establishes the coaching process; is perceived as role model; implements coaching literature for team and others; encourages goal achievement
  • Values growth and development of everyone; leads efforts to assist others in coaching; leads the way in how to provide effective and sincere feedback

Influence

  • Influences the coaching process across campus; others frequently seek support and advice from individual, including President
  • Has trust and support [from the top] to create a coaching culture
Sample Interview Questions
  • How do you coach an employee in completing a new assignment?
  • Provide an example of what you done to help develop your staff or others. Similarly, what have you done to improve the skills of other staff?
  • Describe what you believe is the core skill set for a coach.
  • How do you coach someone to develop a new skill? What do you do to build their confidence, commitment, and skills?
  • Describe some employees who have become more successful and productive as a result of your coaching them.
  • Have you ever had an employee who had difficulty completing tasks? What action did you take with that employee?
  • Giving negative feedback about job performance to an employee is very difficult. What methods of giving negative feedback have you used which seem successful?

Mentoring

Competencies
  • Commits to foster and enhance the careers of others by the giving of time, knowledge and advice.
  • Knows the essential characteristics of a positive mentoring relationship, which include confidentiality, clear purpose, trust and commitment.
  • Demonstrates communications and listening skills.
  • Provides constructive feedback about behaviors, developmental needs and enhanced performance.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Knows the climate in which people want to do their best; recognizes the essential characteristics
  • Does not use knowledge to motivate others’ actions

Application

  • Creates and maintains a climate in which people want to do their best; demonstrates good communication and listening skills
  • Assesses other’s strengths; offers feedback and able to motivate others

Mastery

  • Empowers others and energizes them to do and to be their best; implements best mentoring practices for team and campus
  • Successfully motivates others to participate; designs incentives for continual participation

Influence

  • Institutional influence in how to recognize, develop, advise, and inspire others
  • Knows how to successfully motivate the entire institution to implement similar mentoring practices
Sample Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a time when you created a work environment in which people wanted to do their best. How did you create that climate? What was the result?
  • Describe a situation in which you identified a person’s strengths, development needs, or goals and then used them to get the best out of that person.
  • Give examples of how you have varied your use of praise, reward, involvement, etc. to motivate different people. How did you determine the best approach for motivating them? How did you know you were effective?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a range of individuals in different roles. Describe the individuals or groups, their working relationship to you, and how you motivated them.
  • Describe what you believe is the core skill set for a mentor