Key Behaviors

What are Key Behaviors?

Competencies were selected to help support and drive NU's strategic goals. Because these competencies are so critical to the performance management and employee development programs, it is important to provide tailored measures of these competencies that reflect job duties, responsibilities and actual behaviors. From a motivational point of view, it is critical to communicate to employees key performance expectations and provide actionable feedback regarding their performance relative to the competencies. In order to do this, objective and observable measures were developed for each job family. We call these measures key behaviors.

Developing Key Behaviors for Different Job Family Zones

Since there are various levels of jobs within a job family, key behaviors were developed with jobs in mind that represented each job zone. Naturally, one would expect to find differences in skill development, knowledge and abilities as you contrast a lower level key behavior to the higher level ones within each competency. To this end, the key behaviors were developed for each job family along a continuum from Assistant to Senior in a way that matches the arrangement of jobs in each family.

The following factors were used when developing the key behaviors.

  • The purpose of key behaviors is to tailor the competencies to the job family.
  • Two to four key behaviors were written for each zone of each competency.
  • Key behaviors are observable.
  • Key behaviors are measurable.
  • Key behaviors are written in a language that is understood by both employees and supervisors.
  • Key behaviors are written as succinctly as possible.
  • Key behaviors drive the successful performance of the competency. There must be a meaningful difference in skills, abilities and knowledge requirements reflected in the behaviors from one zone to the next. In many instances, the same behavior was used for more than one zone by adjusting magnitude, frequency level, and so forth from one zone to the next. In some instances, different behaviors that measure and reflect distinct skill sets were used to differentiate one zone from the next. When using different behaviors, the behaviors used for higher job zones truly reflect enhanced levels of skill and knowledge than the behaviors used to describe lower zone job requirements and expectations.

In order to develop appropriate and meaningful key behaviors, job experts from all four campuses and Varner Hall gathered in job-family-based groups to develop and refine them. An editor from the University of Nebraska Press reviewed all of the key behaviors and recommended changes to standardize the format and language usage.

Key Behaviors for All Families

Accountability – Accepts responsibility for own actions and decisions and demonstrates commitment to accomplish work in an ethical, efficient and cost-effective manner.
  • Accurately completes established protocols and adheres to schedules.
  • Manages time effectively, meets deadlines, and achieves established goals and objectives.
  • Assists in the establishment, accomplishment and continuous evaluation of goals.
  • Assumes responsibility for the accuracy of work processes and flow of multiple tasks.
  • Assesses multiple demands and competing priorities and identifies necessary resources to handle critical work demands.
  • Assumes responsibility for the actions and decisions of staff.
  • Interprets, designs and accepts responsibility for policies and processes.
  • Removes obstacles to efficient use of resources.
  • Sets and exemplifies high ethical standards and holds self and others accountable for conduct.
Adaptability – Adjusts planned work by gathering relevant information and applying critical thinking to address multiple demands and competing priorities in a changing environment.
  • Seeks direction, responds positively and readily adapts to a change in the work environment.
  • Changes behavior in response to feedback and learns from experience.
  • Responds effectively to multiple demands.
  • Functions effectively in uncertain or stressful situations.
  • Balances and prioritizes competing needs and demonstrates/promotes flexibility in a changing environment. 
  • Anticipates and adjusts for environmental changes and emergent situations.
  • Develops flexible resources to meet current and future needs. 
  • Acts as a change agent by promoting and embracing responsible change to further university mission.
  • Balances university-wide initiatives with unit goals and provides direction for implementing necessary changes.
  • Motivates staff to respond constructively to change.
Communication – Effectively conveys information and expresses thoughts and facts. Demonstrates effective use of listening skills and displays openness to other people's ideas and thoughts.
  • Communicates in a clear and effective manner, using appropriate technology when applicable.
  • Listens actively to evaluate situations and responds effectively and creatively.
  • Listens and understands others, adjusting communication style to suit situation and audience.
  • Assimilates information and communicates alternatives.
  • Establishes contacts and works with them to assemble and disseminate information.
  • Communicates to diverse constituents, ensuring that all forms of communication are clear, concise and accurate.
  • Represents the university and department in fostering internal and external partnerships and alliances.
  • Evaluates communication strategies and fosters improvement and growth.
Customer/Quality Focus – Anticipates and meets the needs of customers and responds to them in an appropriate manner. Demonstrates a personal commitment to identify customers' apparent and underlying needs and continually seeks to provide the highest quality service and product to all customers.
  • Demonstrates consideration, cooperation and generosity in providing service.
  • Comprehends customers' needs and works within appropriate guidelines and resources to meet those needs.
  • Ensures quality of products and services provided.
  • Anticipates internal and external customers' needs.
  • Takes responsibility for addressing customer requests and follows through to resolution.
  • Optimally addresses multiple and sometimes competing customer needs.
  • Designs tools to evaluate quality of services.
  • Reviews quality standards and recommends improvements accordingly.
  • Anticipates issues and opportunities and acts as a resource for creative problem solving.
  • Gathers input and analyzes, designs, evaluates and implements quality process changes.
  • Establishes the service philosophy for the organization.
Inclusiveness – Interacts appropriately with all business and community partners and members of and visitors to the campus community, without regard to individual characteristics. Demonstrates a personal commitment to create a hospitable and welcoming environment. Fosters respect for all individuals and points of view.
  • Treats others with dignity and respect.
  • Demonstrates a welcoming attitude at all times.
  • Demonstrates sensitivity to the needs, concerns and opinions of others.
  • Incorporates inclusiveness into work products/services.
  • Cultivates a broad and diverse network to exchange ideas and make decisions.
  • Models inclusive behavior when interacting with staff, students and the community.
  • Values and promotes full utilization of workforce diversity.
  • Successfully manages differences in primary language and culture.
  • Encourages and promotes a work environment in which all individual differences are valued, respected and welcomed.
  • Seeks or provides resources to promote and support inclusiveness.
  • Resolves complex issues by balancing needs of diverse groups.
Occupational Knowledge/Technology Orientation – Demonstrates the appropriate level of proficiency in the principles and practices of one's field or profession. Demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement, to include understanding and application of technology (hardware, software, equipment and processes).
  • Attains and maintains appropriate licenses and certifications.
  • Demonstrates proficiency in use of common tools and technology of profession.
  • Seeks advice for development of additional skills.
  • Independently and proficiently applies occupational knowledge and skills in area of expertise.
  • Explores, implements and integrates new technologies.
  • Demonstrates commitment to a continuing involvement in training, certification and professional organizational activities.
  • Explores current and emerging practices, trends and theories in field through continuing education and involvement in professional organizations.
  • Adopts technological advancements and facilitates mastery of occupational skills.
  • Coordinates or acquires necessary resources to facilitate both short and long-term research goals.
  • Provides leadership and expertise to unit, university and professional colleagues by promoting new ideas and technology that benefit customers or the unit.
  • Furnishes opportunities and resources for training and developmental activities.
Team Focus – Works cooperatively and effectively with others to achieve common goals. Participates in building a group identity characterized by pride, trust and commitment.
  • Understands how individual job tasks, responsibilities and projects relate to the departmental goals.
  • Participates actively and contributes personal knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve team goals.
  • Performs assigned duties and communicates status of progress to other team members.
  • Respects contributions of all team members.
  • Participates in the development of team goals.
  • Cooperates with other units to attain common goals.
  • Shares expertise and facilitates team interactions to achieve objectives.
  • Assembles team based on strengths and talents of each individual.
  • Rewards and recognizes the contributions of team members.
  • Shifts team resources to optimize team performance.
  • Commands resources necessary to perform team functions and accomplish goals while fostering an environment where teamwork is valued and rewarded.
  • Considers university missions and strategies in developing and defining project objectives.
Leadership – Communicates personal vision and the university's vision in ways that gain the support of others. Mentors, motivates and guides others toward goals.
  • Acts as a resource, coach and mentor.
  • Serves as a role model, leading by example.
  • Projects a positive image when representing the university.
  • Sets appropriate personal and professional standards for self.
  • Demonstrates ability to manage unit workload, employee relations and personnel functions.
  • Identifies and removes barriers that reduce efficiency or effectiveness.
  • Serves as an advocate for the interests and needs of the unit.
  • Motivates others to accomplish unit goals.
  • Recommends ways to integrate university's mission with unit services.
  • Fosters an optimal working environment that recognizes and rewards success.
  • Uses participatory decision making and encourages others to take initiative and reach their full potential.
  • Monitors the unit's progress through competitive benchmarking.