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 leadership 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 Role Complexity Analysis

A General Role Complexity Analysis (GRCA) involves an examination of the average complexity range of positions in adjacent layers of an organization’s hierarchy. The scope of a GRCA is dependent on the number of layers in a workplace hierarchy that will be analyzed (minimum of three).

Precise Role Complexity Analysis

A Precise Role Complexity Analysis (PRCA) builds upon a GRCA by narrowing in on the complexity demands and skill requirements for a specific role. A PRCA cannot be conducted without an up-to-date GRCA.

Role complexity & the Human Capital Value Chain

Workforce planning

We can help you plan for future workforce requirements with projective analyses of the complexity demands of future functions or roles.

Organizational design

Regardless of your organization's current structure, we can help you optimize your organizational design by conducting comparative analyses of the complexity demands of current and future functions and roles.

Role design

We can help you design new roles or reconfigure existing roles to fit the existing role-complexity range for a particular layer in your current organization.

Role fit

With a Lectical Assessment and a PRCA, we can determine the fit between the complexity-level of candidates’ mental skills and the complexity range of a given role (determined with a Precise Role Complexity Analysis™).


Mental ability is the best predictor of recruitment success (see evidence presented below). We measure mental ability plus Precise Role Fit™, which adds additional predictive power by fine-tuning the interpretation of mental ability scores. See the PRCA & recruitment section.


Our certified consultants help new hires close gaps in their skills with personal development plans based on role requirements and the resources and recommendations in their Lectical Assessment reports.

Team effectiveness

With Lectical Assessments and PRCAs, we determine the fit between the complexity-level of team members’ mental skills and the complexity ranges of their current roles. Our certified consultants can then leverage Lectical Assessment reports to support the growth of team members whose skills fall below the fit range for their roles.

Lectical Assessments and PRCAs can also be used to configure teams optimally by ensuring good role-fit prior to hiring or promotion.

Performance management

Poor role fit is a common cause of poor workplace performance. With a Lectical Assessment and a PRCA, we can determine whether or not the complexity level of an underperforming employee's performance on a Lectical Assessment is a good match for the complexity range of their role.

Learning & development

Our certified consultants provide development programs that (1) teach employees how to learn from everyday workplace experience (ViP) and (2) personalize learning by leveraging the diagnostics and resources in Lectical Assessment reports. Learners can set targets for themselves based on the role complexity of desired future roles.

Succession planning

For the Essentials+ version of Lectical Assessment reports, we plot employees' future growth trajectories. We use these plots to support personal development, but they are also employed, alongside PRCAs, to identify individuals who are likely to be ready for a particular role at a particular point in the future.

GRCA and PRCA analyses are conducted internally by Lectical Analysts. We do not license external personnel to conduct these analyses. However, we rarely deliver these services directly to an organization. This is because using these products effectively in organizations requires special training from Lectica in addition to general consulting expertise. Certified Lectical Consultants who work with the GRCA and PRCA are currently serving organizations around the globe. We would be happy to make introductions.

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 illustrate how Lectica’s work levels relate—roughly—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 E7 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 conventionally hierarchical organization might look. Notice that the ranges are wider than in the idealized example, and the overlap from layer to layer is significant. In flatter organizations, overlap can be even greater.

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 8 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 Precise 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


Precise 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 into your organizational culture. 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