Behavioural Competencies

What Are the Behavioural Competencies?

Behavioural Competencies are the knowledge, skills and values required to perform effectively in a job function or role. They are the “how” of performing a job and are usually learned and developed through life experiences.

Each of the 17 Behavioural Competencies has a definition with explanatory notes and is linked to behaviour indicators across four proficiency levels.

Our competencies are periodically updated to reflect changes in the quickly evolving substance use field. Find more detail on the development of the competencies in the History section.

The Behavioural and Technical Competencies complement each other and are meant to be used together. For example, the Technical Competency of Counselling is more effective when combined with the Behavioural Competency of Interpersonal Rapport.

The Behavioural Competencies can be used to:

  • Create or refine job descriptions;
  • Interview candidates;
  • Assess candidate suitability and experience;
  • Set employee performance expectations and evaluate performance; and
  • Self-assess skills and determine professional development plans.

The Technical and Behavioural Competencies for Canada’s Substance Use Workforce are intended to be used as a guide, depending upon the job description, setting and organizational culture, and are not prescriptive.

The behaviour indicators are offered as examples and are neither mandatory nor exhaustive. This feature allows some flexibility in assessing roles within different settings and contexts and adapting the competencies accordingly. The levels of proficiency are cumulative.


Adapting the Proficiency Profiles
Since organizations differ in workload and staffing needs, competency requirements can differ from one organization to the next. This tool outlines the steps to adapt a competency profile to reflect the competency needs of a specific job.

Guide to Behavioural Competency-based Interviewing
Describes a structured process to conducting interviews based on Behavioural Competencies.

Generic Interview Questions for the Behavioural Competencies
Sample interview questions for each proficiency level of each Behavioural Competency. Use these questions as a foundation for developing job-specific interview questions relevant to the proficiency levels for the position.

Interview Tools for Job Clusters for Behavioural Competencies
Sample interview questions focusing on behaviour for the generic competency profile of each job cluster. Before using it, review the suggested competency profile to determine if it is relevant. Use the Adapting the Proficiency Profiles tool if changes are needed.

Guide to Competency-based Performance Management
Describes a structured approach to managing employee performance that can be adapted to specific contexts or cultures.

Performance Management Tools for Common Job Clusters for the Behavioural Competencies
A process and templates for conducting employee performance reviews for the seven job clusters. Provides a selection of sample performance objectives for the competencies in the job cluster competency profile.

Full Behavioural CompetenciesAll 17 Behavioural Competencies in one PDF
Adaptability and FlexibilityWillingly adjust one’s approach to meet the demands and needs of constantly changing conditions, situations and people, and work effectively in difficult or ambiguous situations.
Analytical Thinking and Decision MakingGather, synthesize and evaluate information and evidence to determine possible alternatives and outcomes and make well-informed, timely decisions. Includes critical thinking and reasoning skills.
Collaboration and Network BuildingIdentify, create and build capacity with informal and formal interdisciplinary networks and allied community groups, including people with lived and living experience, families and communities from diverse backgrounds, to support the provision of service delivery and achievement of the organization’s objectives. People who use services include individuals, groups, organizations and communities.
Continuous LearningIdentify and pursue learning opportunities to enhance one’s professional practice and development, and the delivery of high-quality programs and services.
Creativity and InnovationUse evidence-informed practices in innovative and creative ways to initiate effective new ways of working and advance the understanding of the field of practice. Innovation and creativity are achieved by collaborating with stakeholders to optimize improvements in service delivery and professional practice.
Culturally Safe and Anti-Oppressive PracticeProvide inclusive, anti-oppressive, sex- and gender-sensitive, equitable and timely services to diverse populations and cultures,* including but not limited to, age, sex, gender, language, ethnicity, socio-economic status, legal status, health, ability, sexual orientation, type and mode of substance use, continued substance use, concurrent conditions, etc. Challenge oppressive structures, unequal power relations, affirm and value the worth of all individuals, families, groups and communities, and protect the dignity of all with cultural awareness, competence, sensitivity, humility and cultural safety. (*Refers to the distinct cultures that exist around Indigeneity, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, substance use, etc.)
Developing OthersFacilitate and motivate sustained learning and create learning opportunities and resources, as well as promote and respect others’ ownership of learning outcomes. Includes creation of a continuous learning environment that fosters positive growth in both work and public contexts among peers, individuals, families, communities and other groups.
Effective CommunicationArticulate both verbally and in writing across a range of technologies in a manner that builds trust, respect and credibility, including in-person and technology-assisted communication (e.g., video conferencing, texting, social media). Checks with the audience to ensure the message is received and mutually understood. Includes active listening skills (attending, being silent, summarizing, paraphrasing, questioning and empathizing), communicating with gender sensitivity, cultural humility and congruent non-verbal communication.
Ethical Conduct and ProfessionalismProvide professional services according to the principles and values of integrity, competence, accountability, respect and trust to safeguard both self and others. Includes the development of professionalism and ethical behaviour in self and others (individuals, groups, organizations, communities).
Interpersonal RapportEstablish and maintain relationships based on mutual respect and trust, appropriate sensitivity and transparency, empathy and compassion with people using services, colleagues, professional associates and the greater community. Encompasses skills of tact, engagement and sensitivity in all encounters with others.
LeadershipHelp others achieve excellent results and create enthusiasm for a shared vision and mission, even in the face of critical debate and adversity. Model professionalism and integrity. These qualities apply to both informal and formal leadership roles.
Person-Directed CareSupport people to exercise choice in the services and supports they are seeking, and to practice self-determination in all aspects of their unique goal of wellbeing. Also described as service engagement led by people seeking services. For those who work with people seeking substance use services, this means supporting and empowering them to achieve their well-being goals through collaboration. The service provider acts as a bridge and navigator to supports, knowledge, information and services.
Planning and OrganizingIdentify and prioritize tasks, develop and implement plans, evaluate outcomes, and adjust activities to achieve objectives.
Self CareDeliberately and continuously apply professional and personal principles of well-being. Intentionally support others to sustain optimal well-being, while maintaining physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health.
Self ManagementAppropriately manage one’s emotions and strong feelings; maintain a calm and respectful composure under a broad range of challenging circumstances; and think clearly and stay focused under pressure. Encompasses self-regulation and mindfulness.
Self MotivationRemain motivated and focused on goals until the best possible results are achieved, with both passion for making a difference in the substance use field and persistence despite confronting obstacles, resistance and setbacks.
Teamwork and CooperationWork cooperatively and productively with others within and across organizational units to achieve common goals; demonstrate respect, cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building.