UC Core Competency ABCs

What are competencies?

Competencies are identified knowledge, skills, and abilities that describe employee traits which directly and positively impact the success of the employee and the organization. Competencies can be objectively measured, enhanced, and improved through coaching and learning opportunities.

Across the UC system, competencies have been identified for all staff, including managers and supervisors, professional staff, and operational/technical staff.

Why are they important?

Competencies can help you identify the behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. You can use them to help guide your professional development by fixing your attention on the goals and values that are needed at UCOP and across the entire UC system.

How can you use this competency model?

Career success in an organization is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others at work. By studying the UC Systemwide Core Competency ABCs and working to refine your skill level in each competency, you can take charge of your career and the work you do. You can empower yourself to make positive contributions at work and find the work you do rewarding and meaningful.

It can be very helpful for your career development to meet with your manager/supervisor to gain their feedback and to brainstorm ways that you can create learning and development opportunities to develop your skill level in these competencies, and other competencies that may be needed in your department for your career development. 

UC Core Competency ABCs. Achieving Results: Continuous Improvement, Continuous Learning, Problem Solving, Service Focus. Building Relationships: Belonging and Community, Collaboration, Communication. Creating the Future: Change Agility, Missing and Vision Focus, Stewardship.

The core competencies below apply to all UC employees, regardless of location, level or role within the University. They are aligned with the mission, vision and values of the University and its locations. Core behavioral anchors (left column) also apply to all UC employees, regardless of location, level or role within the University. In addition to the core behavioral anchors, UC leaders and managers are expected to demonstrate the management behavioral anchors (right column).

Achieving Results

Continuous Improvement

Strives for high-quality performance in self and the organization. Takes initiative in an ongoing effort to improve products, services or processes to deliver optimum results. Is resourceful, seeks alternatives and broad input; measures outcomes.

Core Behavioral Anchors

  • Adopts ideas, technology, and practices that increase efficiency, eliminate waste, and improve performance
  • Is reflective; takes initiative to make improvements to current work
  • Uses data, feedback, and input from others to improve the quality of products and services

Management Behavioral Anchors

  • Drives improvement, continually searching for new ways to position the organization for success
  • Supports others who take calculated risks
  • Recognizes and rewards initiative and innovation

Continuous Learning

Demonstrates responsibility and ownership for one’s job and career path by identifying and expanding skillsets needed to perform successfully on the job. Consistently works to learn and increase knowledge. Asks for help when needed, admits mistakes and is open to feedback.

Core Behavioral Anchors

  • Takes responsibility for one's own development; maintains fluency in appropriate work applications, software, or tools
  • Keeps up-to-date on current research, trends, and technology in one's field; identifies and pursues areas for development and training that will enhance job performance
  • Seeks coaching and feedback to increase self-awareness and personal growth

Management Behavioral Anchors

  • Creates opportunities for learning and development throughout the organization
  • Gives team members autonomy to determine how to complete work; delegates effectively
  • Ensures that knowledge and learning is shared across the organization; recognizes staff who learn from each other

Problem Solving

Anticipates and identifies problems; conducts appropriate analysis to understand stakeholder interests. Generates and evaluates alternative solutions. Takes thoughtful risks.​

Core Behavioral Anchors

  • Evaluates the pros and cons, risks and benefits of different solutions; prioritizes opportunities and challenges in order to solve urgent, high impact problems first
  • Works effectively with others to solve problems and make decisions; seeks input from partners
  • Identifies issues and addresses them in a timely, data driven and transparent manner to achieve sustainable and optimal results

Management Behavioral Anchors

  • Fosters an environment where employees feel safe raising issues, offering solutions and input
  • Accountable for decisions and actions when solving problems
  • Utilizes broad organizational knowledge to identify root causes and potential impacts of proposed solutions

Service Focus

Values and delivers high quality, professional, responsive and innovative service to all customers. Establishes and maintains positive, long-term working relationships.

Behavioral Anchors

  • Seeks and uses feedback from a variety of sources to improve service quality
  • Meets and often exceeds expectations; ensures that stakeholder needs are fulfilled; honors commitments and keeps promises
  • Adapts service delivery to meet the needs of diverse client base

Management Behavioral Anchors

  • Holds self and team members accountable for high quality work and stakeholder relationships
  • Provides team members with clear direction and support in meeting their service-delivery objectives
  • Ensures that service delivery roles, responsibilities and reporting lines are clearly defined, understood and accepted

Building Relationships

Belonging and Community

Models, fosters, and promotes the University of California Principles of Community. Demonstrates empathy and respect for all people regardless of differences; promotes fairness and equity. Cultivates, champions, embodies, embraces, and supports a sense of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

Behavioral Anchors

  • Engages others in a way that makes them feel valued and accepted
  • Values diverse people, experiences and ideas; cultivates and maintains an environment of inclusion that empowers all team members to contribute ideas and achieve goals
  • Is self-aware, understands one’s impact on others; treats all people with dignity, respect, and equity

Management Behavioral Anchors

  • Creates a positive work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment
  • Draws on diversity of skills, backgrounds and knowledge of people to achieve more effective results
  • Ensures that conflicts are resolved in ways that leave all team members feeling respected and heard


Interacts with others in ways that demonstrate collaboration and cooperation. Builds partnerships with others to achieve organizational results. Cultivates, builds, and maintains positive relationships across the organization.

  • Cooperates with others; shares information and knowledge to identify and implement solutions in which all parties can benefit
  • Helps and supports fellow employees in their work to contribute to overall success
  • Places the needs of the team above self-interest; builds and maintains effective working relationships
  • Fosters an open environment where employees feel safe providing constructive feedback
  • Develops and cultivates mutually beneficial work relationships and alliances inside and outside the organization
  • Encourages and assists others in building networks to improve relationships and maximize results


Clearly and effectively shares information both orally and in writing. Uses the most appropriate and effective medium for communicating. Adapts and adjusts messages in line with audience experience, diversity and background. Seeks input and actively listens; checks for understanding of messages.

  • Consistently shares accurate, timely information; takes into account audience and communication method
  • States opinions honestly and in a straight-forward manner; maintains open dialogue with others; actively listens
  • Written and verbal communications are consistently clear, concise and appropriate to the audience
  • Speaks honestly about issues; seeks the truth about a situation, no matter how unpleasant
  • Listens to concerns and carries them up the organizational chart; shares senior management strategies and information with employees
  • Sets and demonstrates high standards of integrity; practices discretion; demonstrates diplomacy and tact

Creating the Future

Change Agility

Anticipates and adapts to change. Supports change initiatives by energizing others at all levels and ensuring continued commitment when faced with new initiatives. Demonstrates tolerance and adaptability when dealing with ambiguous situations. Effectively plans for change and deals with setbacks through flexibility and resilience.

Behavioral Anchors

Adapts approaches as needed to address changing priorities; is flexible, open, and receptive to new approaches; willing to step outside of one’s comfort zone

Seeks to understand context while navigating through organizational change

Aware of own and others’ responses to change and responds in a way that is productive for the organization and its team members

Management Behavioral Anchors

Creates a supportive environment in which team members anticipate and are able to adapt to change

Actively supports change initiatives; holds team members accountable to adopt change

Actively builds awareness of change strategies and change impacts to team members; serves as a liaison between the team and change leaders

Mission and Vision Focus

Shows understanding of and commitment to the UC mission and vision.

Behavioral Anchors

  • Uses the organization’s mission and vision as guideposts for decision-making
  • Connects individual role and aligns goals in fulfillment of the UC mission and vision
  • Inspires others to achieve the mission and vision of the organization and the University

Management Behavioral Anchors

  • Clearly communicates a team mission and vision that aligns with University goals
  • Harnesses information and opportunities to more effectively achieve the mission and vision of the organization and the University
  • Proactively builds an environment where all team members strive to excel


Demonstrates accountability, discretion and sound judgment when utilizing tangible and intangible University resources to ensure the public trust.

Behavioral Anchors

  • Acts in a manner consistent with the UC Standards of Ethical Conduct and other UC policies
  • Utilizes available resources (people, processes and tools) to achieve organizational goals; models accountability
  • Understands and adheres to safety guidelines; reports and corrects potential threats; models safe behaviors

Management Behavioral Anchors

  • Holds team members accountable for upholding the UC Standards of Ethical Conduct and other UC Policies
  • Identifies ways to share resources, promoting greater efficiencies across the University and communities served
  • Holds team members accountable for adhering to safety guidelines, reporting and correcting potential threats; and modeling safe behaviors