Get Instant Access
to This Blueprint

Talent Management icon

Create Functional Competencies

Strategically invest resources in developing functional competencies for the greatest impact.

  • Many organizations fail to identify the underlying need for functional competencies, risking significant resource investment within minimal return-on-investment.
  • On average, 59% of HR departments believe competency frameworks are highly important to achieving organizational and HR goals, while only 18% report their organization’s competency framework is highly effective (McLean & Company HR Organizational Alignment Diagnostic Survey Database 2020-2023; N=34).
  • Developing functional competencies without a need in mind risks over-complicating an existing competency framework. The development of functional competencies is a time-intensive project and requires active engagement from functional incumbents to assist in the development and integration of functional competencies into relevant HR program areas (e.g. performance management, learning & development).

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst.

  • Get on-demand project support
  • Get advice, coaching, and insight at key project milestones
  • Go through a Guided Implementation to help you get through your project

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Not all organizations have a need for functional competencies as part of their competency framework. Functional competency development provides the greatest return when targeting function-specific needs aligned with organizational priorities in order to justify the time and energy required.

Impact and Result

  • Be intentional when developing functional competencies by identifying the underlying need and engaging functional leaders from the beginning to support buy-in.
  • Prioritize functions with the greatest need and capacity to support competency development and identify alternative solutions, where applicable.
Align functional competencies with HR program areas, create intentional communications, and evaluate the success based on identified goals and metrics.

Create Functional Competencies Research & Tools

1. Identify the need for functional competencies.

Shortlist functions under consideration and conduct a needs analysis to prioritize functional competency development.

2. Define functional competencies.

Draft competencies and behavior-based proficiency statements and assign proficiency level based on role or group of roles.

3. Integrate and communicate functional competencies.

Create a plan for functional competency integration and communication across HR program areas and plan to sustain and update functional competencies over time.

Create Functional Competencies preview picture

About McLean & Company

McLean & Company is an HR research and advisory firm providing practical solutions to human resources challenges via executable research, tools, diagnostics, and advisory services that have a clear and measurable impact on your business.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your HR problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Need Extra Help?
Speak With An Analyst

Get the help you need in this 3-phase advisory process. You'll receive 9 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation 1: Identify the need for functional competencies
  • Call 1: Review the driving interest in functional competencies and project constraints including time, scope, and resources to create a shortlist of functions.
  • Call 2: Discuss insights from the internal and external needs analysis to inform function prioritization.
  • Call 3: Explore alternative solutions for prioritized functions before proceeding with functional competencies.

Guided Implementation 2: Define functional competencies
  • Call 1: Discuss available data and approaches to functional competency development to inform next steps.
  • Call 2: Review how to draft competencies, discuss behavior-based proficiency statements, assign proficiency levels, and conduct a sensitivity and accessibility review.
  • Call 3: Create a plan to validate functional competencies

Guided Implementation 3: Integrate and communicate functional competencies
  • Call 1: Discuss opportunities to integrate functional competencies across HR program areas.
  • Call 2: Create a communications plan to manage resistance and increase buy-in for functional competencies.
  • Call 3: Review opportunities to measure the impact of functional competencies over time and create a plan to sustain and update functional competencies.


  • Dr. Adam Hickman, Vice President of Org Development and Cast Members, Partners an affiliate of the Walt Disney Company
  • Aida Hadziomerovic, MA, Registrar and Director, Examinations, Insurance Institute of Canada
  • Dr. Andrea Butler, Co-founder and Consultant, Perennial Talent Inc.
  • Ben Cowan, Director of Skills Strategy, Degreed
  • Cindy Morris, VP, Corporate Human Resources, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
  • Kathryn Pollack, Executive Vice President, SaskPower
  • Dr. Natasha Parfyonova, Manager, Psychometric Services, Meazure Learning