Upload and manage competencies

Job competencies are demonstrable and measurable clusters of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that an employee needs to perform their work functions successfully. This article walks through how competencies are used in 15Five, as well as how to upload and manage competencies.

In this article, you will learn…

Access and availability

⛔️ Required access to Feature settings.
👥 This article is relevant to Account admins.
📦 This feature is available in the Perform and Total Platform pricing packages.

What are competencies?

Competencies are demonstrable and measurable clusters of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that an employee needs to perform their work functions successfully. In 15Five, competencies are comprised of two simple fields: Name & Description.

Types of competencies

Account admins can create company-wide, group, and/or role-specific competencies.

  • Company-wide competencies are competencies that are important for everyone in your organization to exhibit. For example, Growth-minded (demonstrates an ability to learn from mistakes & takes the initiative to grow and learn continuously).
  • Group competencies are competencies that are specific to a certain team, department, etc. For example, "Team Development" may be a competency that you want to assign to the "Managers" group. These can be assigned to any groups your organization has created in 15Five. Group competencies are often used as a precursor to role-based competencies— if your organization hasn't built out specific competencies based on role, you can use more general group competencies. Additionally, if there are any competencies that are the same for all roles within a group, you can add them as group-specific competencies.
  • Role-based competencies are competencies that are important to a specific role. For example— let's say you have an Engineering Team that contains five different roles (Associate Engineer, Engineer, Senior Engineer, Staff Engineer, and Senior Staff Engineer). While it's important for each of these roles to have competency in debugging, their level of competency will differ depending on their role. This means that you may add the competency 6 times, indicating which role the competency belongs to.
    Role-based competencies example:
    • Competency name: Debugging (Associate Engineer)
      Description: Understands the basics of debugging and the tools used for it.
    • Competency name: Debugging (Engineer)
      Description: Uses a systematic approach to debug issues located within a single service.
    • Competency name: Debugging (Senior Engineer)
      Description: Proficient at using systematic debugging to diagnose all issues located to a single service. Uses Systematic debugging across services.
    • Competency name: Debugging (Staff Engineer)
      Description: Proficient at using systematic debugging to diagnose all issues in their domain.
    • Competency name: Debugging (Senior Staff Engineer)
      Description: Proficient at using systematic debugging to diagnose all issues within a set of related domains.
    • Competency name: Debugging (Principal Engineer)
      Description: Leads incident response across the engineering organization. Uses systematic debugging to diagnose issues.

Manager Effectiveness competencies

By default, 15Five's Manager Effectiveness competencies are included in your account so they can be measured in Manager Effectiveness review cycles and used to populate the Manager Effectiveness Indicator (MEI). These competencies cannot be changed or removed, as they're used for benchmarking.

The Manager Effectiveness competencies are:
  • Building Strong Teams: Foster their team to work well together, be committed to a common purpose, and achieve their goals efficiently and effectively together.
  • Demonstrating Business Acument: Analyze complex situations, anticipate future trends and possibilities, and develop plans that take into account various factors and contingencies across a business environment.
  • Enabling Productivity: Create an environment or provide resources and tools that allow individuals to work efficiently and effectively toward achieving their goals. Identify the factors that may hinder productivity and find ways to eliminate or mitigate them.
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback: Provide or get information about performance, behavior, or actions with the intention of improvement or the continuation of doing something well.
  • Influencing Others: Affects people's beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Have an awareness of people, their values, and needs, and use this knowledge as a means to drive organizational impact.
  • Managing Oneself: Stay organized, focused, and productive while also managing their teams effectively.
  • Setting Goals: Prioritize work and define measurable objectives that an individual or organization wants to achieve. Identify the desired outcome or results and develop a plan to reach that goal.
  • Supporting Career Growth: Help individuals to develop the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to achieve their career goals. Mentor, train, coach, and provide opportunities for learning and growth.

How are competencies used in 15Five?

Competencies are used in career paths. They can also be used in both our Best-Self Review® and Career Hub features.

Best-Self Review®

There is an optional 'Competencies' questions section that you can include in review cycles that allows review authors to rate how the person they're reviewing demonstrates specific company-wide, group, or role-based competencies. You will be asked to create competency-specific questions during the process of creating a question template.

Competencies that are added after a review cycle has begun will not be retroactively included in that review cycle's questions. You will be able to decide whether a competency question is group-specific or for all participants when you are creating a question template. There is an entire page dedicated to reporting on competency results, under Team's and Company's results, when the review cycle comes to an end.

Review admins can also run Manager Effectiveness review cycles, in which managers are reviewed by either their direct reports, themselves, and/or their managers on 15Five's manager competencies. This assessment can be pulled into your organization's Manager Effectiveness Indicator configuration. Holding a manager effectiveness review cycle allows the perspectives of people who work closely with managers (their managers and direct reports) to be reflected in the indicator. Data can be collected through a stand-alone manager effectiveness review cycle or a larger review cycle.

Career Hub

In Career Hub, competencies can be aligned with roles in Career Paths to give your employees insight into what knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes are necessary for successful performance. One competency can group multiple skills and key behaviors. 

How should my organization go about creating competencies? 

We recommend creating clearly defined competencies for your company, groups, and specific roles. As you add competencies, focus on the “how” instead of the “what”, as recommended in Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS).

Check out these additional resources for information and best practices for developing competencies for your organization:

Add or edit a competency

15Five allows you to create company-wide, group, and role-based competencies. The steps below walk through the process of creating company-wide and group competencies, either via bulk import or one-off. Once created, competencies can be assigned to roles within career paths to create role-based competencies. Please see this article for steps on how to create and assign role-based competencies.

Via bulk import One-off


New competencies added via import will add to existing competencies, not replace them. You can use an import to update existing competencies already in 15Five, as well as add new ones, but competencies will not be deleted/replaced if they aren't included in the import file.

  1. Click on the Settings gear in the top right-hand corner of your 15Five account.
  2. Select ‘Features’ from the dropdown menu.
  3. Click into the 'Competencies and Paths' section.
  4. Click into the 'Import' tab at the top of the page.
  5. In this tab you will see three sections: 1) Competencies upload, 2) Paths and Skills upload, and 3) Import history. Scroll to the 'Competencies' section. If you don’t already have a template prepared, click Download Competencies CSV Template to download a fillable CSV.
  6. Create your CSV. The CSV template you downloaded contains four columns: Competency, Competency description (optional), Company wide, and Groups.
    If a competency is relevant for everyone in your organization, type TRUE in the Company wide column. If the competency only applies to specific subsets of the org (i.e. competencies that only apply to senior leadership, or competencies that only apply to new hires), type FALSE in the Company wide column and specify the group(s) the competency applies to in the Groups column.
    Fill out the CSV and save it as a UTF-8 file. The character limit for competencies is 75 characters.
  7. Once your CSV is prepared for upload, click the Upload competencies button.UploadCompetencies.png
  8. You’ll be led to a page that outlines what should be included in the CSV you just created. From here, click Continue to upload.
  9. Upload the CSV you created by clicking Create new import and selecting the file from your computer.
  10. Once your CSV is uploaded successfully, you will see a confirmation page that lists the number of items you uploaded. Review your changes, then click Publish to complete your upload.
  11. You’ll be directed to a page that says “Congrats! Your competencies have been published”. Click either Start new upload to upload another CSV, or Done to return to the 'Import' tab.

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