Glasgow Professional Behavioural Framework is launched

Published: 1 November 2019

Strategy focuses on transforming the way we work and interact with each other, our students and our partners

Our Strategy sets out our ambition to be a world-class, world-changing University, focussing on transforming the way we work and interact with each other, our students and our partners. Our Glasgow Professional initiative complements our strategy and is a philosophy and ethos, defining what it means to be a Professional Services member of staff.

The University has now developed a bespoke Behavioural Competency Framework across the Professional Services job families – Management, Professional and Administrative (MPA), Technical & Specialist (T&S) and the Operational job family.

This Framework defines ‘how’ we can all contribute to the success of the organisation and to our own successes as individuals. Values and behaviours are very much linked and the University of Glasgow’s values – Progressive, Professional and Passionate - sit at the heart of everything we do. Our behaviours are what people see and are an expression of what we value; they demonstrate the attitude and approach we, as Professional Services members of staff, should bring to our work and encompass how we do things, how we treat others and how we expect to be treated.

Professional Services staff work in an extensive range of jobs across the University, and have shared aims that underpin all we do - we are here to support the University to bring inspiring people together, and create a world-class environment for learning and research, empowering our staff and students to discover and share knowledge that can change the world.

Staff from across the University identified these behaviours to be those that would help support us in achieving the University’s priorities and continue to make Glasgow a great place to work.

What are Behavioural Competencies?

Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours that lead to successful performance. Our Framework outlines a range of behavioural competencies, which are grouped into clusters and, for each, there is a description of what it means in practice and some examples of effective and ineffective behaviours at all levels.

The behavioural competencies are intended to be discrete and cumulative, with each level building on the levels below. For example, a person demonstrating a behavioural competency at Senior Leader level should be demonstrating behaviours at the other levels as a matter of course. These indicators of behaviour are not designed to be comprehensive but should provide a clear and consistent sense of what is expected from Professional Services staff in the University of Glasgow.

What will the Behavioural Competency Framework mean for staff?

It is envisaged that the Framework will be used for recruitment & selection, performance & development review discussions and for decisions about career progression. Our objectives/performance standards set out ‘what’ we need to achieve over the course of a year and the Behavioural Competency Framework sets out ‘how’ we need to work to achieve those objectives.

How we built the Framework

Using a stratified sample[1] approach, our data gathering process consisted of a large number of confidential structured interviews. Our approach aligned with recognised best practice which helped us to ensure that we could deliver a framework which had both the granularity and the validity for the purposes outlined above.

Over 150 interviews were held with staff of all grades, totalling approximately 280 hours’ worth of detailed conversations:

  • Visionary (10%) interviews took place with key leaders to understand the future vision and how the Behavioural Framework would enable cultural change aligned to our future strategy;
  • Repertory Grid (60%) structured interviews were conducted with line managers to assess those behaviours that frequently led to success within the team;
  • Critical Incident (40%) structured interviews took place on a one-to-one basis with all levels of staff which focused on successful achievement of tasks/projects/particular piece of work.

Following the interviews, a small team spent a week analysing the content, identifying the key themes and behaviours that were woven through the responses – an exercise which resulted in an array of over 2000 Post It Notes being created as part of the review process. The emergent themes then determined the constructs which formed the basis of our behavioural competencies.

Working closely with an Occupational Psychologist throughout the process, we took all the necessary recommended steps to ensure our approach to the design phase was in line with best practice and would ultimately deliver us with a behavioural framework that would be both meaningful and useful.

In the second phase of the initial project we created a draft framework built around the key behaviours identified during the analysis phase, which was then subject to extensive consultation and validation. We validated our results through questionnaire feedback and focus groups to confirm we had accurately captured what is involved, and the positive behaviours required, in delivering a professional services role to a high standard, here at the University of Glasgow.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all the staff involved in the project for identifying those behaviours that will help support colleagues to be successful and engaged, through sharing expectations around how we work. The framework will enable individuals, teams and leaders to set clear expectations, support development and have quality conversations with staff to enable them to be their best and support us in making Glasgow a fantastic place to work.


As an initial step, the GPBF will be used on our Leadership Programmes and will form part of the Development Centre where we will select key behaviours which are relevant to leadership in order to frame development conversations with participants, utilising the LPI 360̊ tool.

Overall, the Framework represents the culmination of a significant piece of work, and we are confident it will provide real value to all professional services colleagues across the University, supporting them in the delivery of all aspects of their roles.

The Framework will formally launch at the Professional Services Staff Conference in January 2020, where we look forward to showcasing and discussing our Framework in more detail.

Lesley Cummings,
Director of Performance and Reward

First published: 1 November 2019