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Develop a Comprehensive Competency Framework

Leverage the single most important tool for driving key HR functions.

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  • Andy Woyzbun, Executive Advisor, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Anthony Papa, Vice President Human Resources, Meridian Lightweight Technologies
  • Doug Rozon, Director of Marketing, Sun Products Corporation
  • Dr. Bob Saggers, President of Robert Saggers & Associates, Learning-Leadership Consultants Inc. and adjunct professor at McGill University
  • Erin Casey, CPA, CA, Assistant Controller & Associate, Dillon Consulting Limited
  • Jon Holt, co-author of A Pragmatic Guide to Competency: Tools, Frameworks and Assessment
  • Mark Tanning, Senior Director of Learning, Development & Talent Management, University of Minnesota Physicians
  • Mary Esteves, Nova Consulting
  • Michael Taylor, Marketing Professor, Western Ivey Business School
  • Michelle Berry, Director of Human Resources, Global Customer Service and Marketing, OpenText
  • Several additional contributors who wish to remain anonymous
  • Competency frameworks are an integral part of many HR functions such as performance management, employee development, identification of future leaders, and talent acquisition.
  • Designing and implementing a competency framework can be extremely difficult and time consuming. Most HR departments are too busy with day-to-day operations and do not have time to create and build a competency framework.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • A comprehensive competency framework provides an organization and its employees with a common understanding of the knowledge, skills, attributes, and behaviors required to achieve organizational goals and remain competitive.
  • Engaging stakeholders - from leaders to employees - is crucial to developing the competency framework as it impacts every employee in the organization.
  • Ensure your competency framework is supported as the cornerstone of your talent management practices.

Impact and Result

  • Understand the difference between core competencies and function-specific competencies. Select and modify your competencies from McLean & Company’s Comprehensive Competency Library.
  • Plan your competency framework project and gain buy-in from stakeholders.
  • Define competencies for your framework using behavior-based language if the pre-developed competencies do not align with organizational needs.
  • Implement your competency framework and integrate it throughout all HR functions.

Research & Tools

2. Select and modify pre-developed competencies

Select various core, leadership, and functional competencies.

3. Define your competencies

Define each selected competency with behavior-based proficiency statements.

4. Implement your competency framework

Secure leadership buy-in and participation and outline the competency framework implementation plan.

5. Support your competency framework

Create a defined plan for the maintenance of your competency framework.

6. McLean Academy Learning Snapshot

Watch this learning snapshot for an introduction to creating a competency framework.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a nine call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Get ready to build a competency framework

Call #1 - Discuss making the case and ensure understanding of the three categories of competencies.

Guided Implementation #2 - Select and modify pre-developed competencies

Call #1 - Discuss and select core competencies.
Call #2 - Discuss and select leadership competencies.
Call #3 - Discuss and select functional competencies for each organizational unit.

Guided Implementation #3 - Define your competencies

Call #1 - Discuss themes, prioritization, and proficiency levels.
Call #2 - Discuss and plan for focus group reviews.

Guided Implementation #4 - Implement your competency framework

Call #1 - Outline implementation plan for your competency framework.
Call #2 - Discuss competency framework integration into other HR functions.

Guided Implementation #5 - Support your competency framework

Call #1 - Review initial evaluations and identify any trends.

Onsite Workshop

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Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Select and Define Core Competencies

The Purpose

Select and clearly define the core competencies of the organization.

Key Benefits Achieved

Core competencies are widely understood across the organization.




Select core competencies.

  • Core competencies determined

Describe core competencies.

  • Core competency descriptions defined

Identify core competency proficiency levels.

  • Proficiency levels for each competency determined

Review core competency proficiency levels.

  • Proficiency levels reviewed by group

Complete core competency presentations.

  • Competencies presented

Test the core competencies.

  • Core competencies tested

Module 2: Select and Define Leadership Competencies

The Purpose

Select and clearly define the leadership competencies of the organization.

Key Benefits Achieved

Leadership competencies are widely understood across the organization.




Select leadership competencies.

  • Leadership competencies determined

Describe leadership competencies.

  • Leadership competency descriptions defined

Identify leadership competency proficiency levels.

  • Proficiency levels for each competency determined

Review leadership competency proficiency levels.

  • Proficiency levels reviewed by group

Complete leadership competency presentations.

  • Competencies presented

Test the leadership competencies.

  • Leadership competencies tested

Module 3: Refine Competencies and Develop a Plan

The Purpose

  • Finalize competencies and develop a plan to move forward.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Core and leadership competencies finalized for the organization.
  • Communication strategy developed for implementation.




Review and refine competencies.

  • Competencies refined

Review the revisions.

  • Revisions looked over and agreed upon

Complete competency presentations.

  • Competencies presented

Identify how to integrate the competency framework into other HR functions.

  • Competency integration determined

Develop a communications strategy.

  • Communication strategy developed