Role complexity analysis

We assess the complexity & competency demands of workplace roles.

During the first decade of this century, while working with a US Federal Government agency, Dr. Dawson developed a new approach to assessing the complexity and skill requirements of workplace roles and calibrating them to Lectica's developmental scale (the Lectical Scale). Today, we offer a suite of services that provide useful information about the complexity demands of roles within organizations. This information is used primarily to improve recruitment prediction, identify talent, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of change initiatives and leader development.

A number of factors contribute to the complexity level of a workplace role. One of them, illustrated below, is the number and nature of the stakeholders and stakeholder groups affected by the decisions made in a particular role.

General analysis

The General Role Complexity Analysis (GRCA) involves an examination of the average complexity demand of positions at different levels in an organization's hierarchy.

Precise analysis

A Precise Role Complexity Analysis (PRCA) builds upon a GRCA by narrowing in on the complexity demands and skill requirements of a specific role.


The scope of an analysis is dependent on the number of levels in a workplace hierarchy that will be analyzed. This can be anything from a single position to an entire organization.

Role complexity & the Human Capital Value Chain

Workforce planning: We can help you identify future requirements with a General Analysis (GRCA) of the complexity demands of proposed levels of work, or a Precise Analysis (PRCA) of a new position.

Recruitment: We can help you refine hiring decisions with a General Analysiss (GRCA) of your organizational hierarchy, a Precise Analysis (PRCA of the position to be filled, and a Lectical Assessment of each candidates' skills.

Onboarding: We can help you close gaps in a new hire's skills with a General Analysiss (GRCA) of your organizational hierarchy, the Precise Analysis (PRCA of the specific position, and a development plan based on the results of Lectical Assessments.

Learning and development: We aim to put an end to one-size-fits-all development programs by providing you with the information you need to customize learning—beginning with a General Analysiss (GRCA) of organizational roles and the diagnostics from Lectical Assessments.

Succession planning: We can help you identify and develop talent with a General Analysiss (GRCA) of organizational roles, comparisons of role complexity with employee performance on Lectical Assessments, and customized development plans based on the diagnostics from Lectical Assessments.

Role complexity ranges

Idealized ranges

This table illustrates how role complexity ranges for successive layers in an idealized organization would change from layer to layer. It also serves as a definition for Lectica’s Work Levels. We do not mean to suggest that these ranges would be ideal in the real world, in which boundaries between layers are necessarily much fuzzier. Think of this as a simple way to represent a complex reality—and a way to show you how Lectica's work levels relate to complexity ranges.

Lectica’s work levels Lectical range Role levels
L7 1195–1215 multinational CEO
L6 1175–1195 corporate CEO
L5 1155–1175 executive
L4 1135–1155 senior
L3 E6 1115–1135 upper level, highly skilled professional
L2 E5 1095–1115 mid-level, skilled professional
L1 E4 1075–1095 supervisory, professional
E3 1055–1075 highly skilled labor
E2 1035–1055 skilled labor
E1 1015–1035 semi-skilled labor
E0 995–1015 unskilled labor

General role complexity ranges for a real corporation

This table illustrates how role complexity ranges for successive layers in a real organization might look. Notice that the ranges are wider than in the idealized example, and the overlap from layer to layer is significant.

Lectica’s work levels Lectical range Role levels
L7 1200+ multinational CEO
L6 1180-1225 corporate CEO
L5 1160-1205 executive
L4 1140-1185 senior
L3 E6 1120-1165 upper level, highly skilled professional
L2 E5 1100-1145 mid-level, skilled professional
L1 E4 1080-1125 supervisory, professional
E3 1060-1105 highly skilled labor
E2 1020-1070 skilled labor

Using the PRCA in recruitment

The Precise Role Complexity Analysis range for most roles is around 15 points. This is the most common range we identify for individual roles. To interpret what this range means in practical terms, it helps to understand that it would take 4 to 6 years for an exceptionally effective learner performing in the 1150–1175 range and working in an organization that actively supports learning, to develop through 15 points on the Lectical Scale. At the other extreme, an individual who is not an effective learner and works in an organization that is not supportive of learning might not continue developing at all. 

PRCA results are used to calculate role fit scores. A PRCA fit score of 90 or above is an indication of excellent role fit. The logical coherence of an individual's thinking, as demonstrated in their assessment responses, is an indication of growth potential. Scores of 90 and above indicate a strong likelihood of relatively rapid future growth. This can be especially important when rapid growth is desirable.

For a new hire, the “sweet spot” in a role-range is usually in the lower end. This is because:

  1. For maximum engagement, a new role should represent an interesting challenge, and a sense of challenge should be maintained throughout the period in which the individual is likely to remain in that role.
  2. The new hire is going to be leading a team. The individuals they are leading will respond best to a leader whose skills they admire. In other words, ideally, they should perform at a level that is at least slightly higher than the level of performance of most subordinates. When teams are well-configured, the low end of the complexity range of the role being filled is usually a good fit.
  3. The new hire for this role will also be a member of a team. It is generally desirable for a new team member to perform at a level slightly below the level of most existing team members. This makes it easier for existing team members to take on a mentoring role during onboarding.

Of course, exceptions can occur. For example, when an individual with a high score but low experience has been selected for fast-tracking, it may make sense for them to spend time in one or more lower-level roles before taking on a higher-level role.

Predictive validity

Lectical Level is an indicator of mental skill as applied in workplace decision-making. Mental ability is by far the strongest predictor of hire success, with predictive validities of .29 to .49, depending on the analytical method employed.* (See the figure below).


predictive power graph


Role Fit scores should add to this predictive power by ensuring that people are placed in roles that are just challenging enough to ensure high engagement. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when using Lectical Scores and fit scores in recruitment.

First, single assessments are associated with measurement error. Someone can do well because they have cheated, or do badly because they are having a bad day. There is a risk that we will miss a great candidate or fail to identify a case of cheating.

Second, an assessment of mental ability should be used as a necessary but not sufficient criterion for making a hiring decision. You will still need to know about an individual’s experience, domain knowledge, specific job skills, etc. You will also need to get a sense of how well a candidate will fit in. If you think of good role fit as a precondition for consideration, you’ll be on the right track.

Third, a PRCA tells us how well the complexity of a candidate’s reasoning fits the complexity demands of a given role. It does not tell us anything about how well their skills will fit a particular team unless the mental skills of other team members and the team leader have also been assessed. It can be particularly important to know about the complexity level of a team leader’s mental skills. A mismatch between the complexity level of a leader’s skills and those of a direct report can have serious consequences.

*Schmidt, F. L., Oh, I.-S., & Shaffer, J. A. (2016). Working paper: The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 100 years of research findings. Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 124(2), 262-274.


Selected funders

IES (US Department of Education)

The Spencer Foundation


Dr. Sharon Solloway

The Simpson Foundation

The Leopold Foundation

Donor list

Selected clients

Glastonbury School District, CT

The Ross School

Rainbow Community School

The Study School

Long Trail School

The US Naval Academy

The City of Edmonton, Alberta

The US Federal Government

Advisory Board

Antonio Battro, MD, Ph.D., One Laptop Per Child

Marc Schwartz, Ph.D. and former high school teacher, University of Texas at Arlington

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Ed.D., University of Southern California

Willis Overton, Ph.D., Temple University, Emeritus