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Develop Key Competencies to Excel as a Strategic Business Partner

Shift from talking about being strategic to behaving strategically.


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  • Evan Ewasko, HR Manager, Transcontinental Incorporated
  • Melissa Hartley, Organizational Development Consultant, Staples
  • Eric Lacroix, Director of Total Rewards & Performance, Business Development Bank of Canada
  • Michael Messier, EVP & CHRO, Excelitas Technologies Corp.
  • Ronel Muller, HR Manager, Continuity South Africa
  • Mark Podolsky, PhD Candidate, York University, School of Human Resource Management
  • Gayle Simmons, HR Manager, Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia (SSEVA)
  • Dallin Stokes, HR Generalist, FJ Management
  • Will Tigley, HR Communications Specialist, Agrium
  • Susan Wright, Learning & Development Manager, Humber River Hospital
  • Lisa Young, SPHR, SHRM-SPC, Senior HR Generalist, Westerra Credit Union

Your Challenge

  • HR is increasingly called upon to be a strategic business partner, yet often struggles to think and act strategically. There is a lingering perception of HR as a roadblock rather than a business enabler.
  • Numerous mitigating factors make it difficult to get a clear sense of what HR needs to do. There is a lack of clarity about the causes and consequences of events, and how HR should respond.
  • Lack of predictability of issues and events makes it difficult to know which HR initiatives will be worthwhile.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • HR must shift from talking about being strategic to behaving strategically through developing competencies in business acumen, organizational awareness, data analysis, and relationship building.
  • Making it a priority to inquire about what the organization needs from HR will change the perception of HR from roadblock to business enabler.

Impact and Result

  • Become a strategic business partner by developing four key competencies: business acumen, organizational awareness, data analysis, and relationship building. Build these into everyday behavior and work life in order to create lasting change and make sure to create a practical development plan for HR professionals to develop in these areas.
  • Translate data analysis from a trendy buzzword to strategic analytics suited to your organization.
  • Seek stakeholder feedback to ensure competency development is having the desired impact and facilitating alignment between organizational needs and HR actions.

Research & Tools

1. Define and assess current competency levels

Review the four strategic competencies, identify target proficiency levels, and assess current proficiency levels to then set benchmark metrics.

2. Create a competency development plan

Create a development plan by identifying key strategic HR development opportunities and activities.

3. Evolve competency development for ongoing impact

Assess progress of goals and prepare for pushback from within the HR department.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a seven call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Define and assess current competency levels

Call #1 - Gain advice around what ideal proficiency in the four key strategic competencies might look like for your organization.
Call #2 - Discuss how to assess competencies.

Guided Implementation #2 - Create a competency development plan

Call #1 - Gain advice for prioritizing competency development goals.
Call #2 - Discuss how to create competency development plans for the department, roles, and individuals.
Call #3 - Review development activities.

Guided Implementation #3 - Evolve competency development plan

Call #1 - Discuss how to review progress on goals and assess their ongoing relevance.
Call #2 - Gain advice for discussing competency development efforts with stakeholders.

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

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: Define and Assess Competencies

The Purpose

  • Understand proficiency levels for key competencies.
  • Organizational goal setting.
  • Set benchmark metrics for progress tracking.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Goals and starting proficiency levels are discussed and agreed upon.
  • Metrics are created.




Establish department and role competency proficiency levels.

  • Proficiency levels for the four key HR competencies are defined.

Establish high-level development objectives.

  • Organizational and departmental goals related to becoming a strategic HR business partner are planned.

Set benchmark metrics.

  • Baseline metrics are set.

Module 2: Create Competency Development Plan

The Purpose

  • Determine development priorities.
  • Create activities to aid in development of those priorities.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Priorities are realized and activities are developed.




Prioritize focus for competency development opportunities.

  • Creation of development opportunities according to priority and competency.

Create development activities for each prioritized development point.

  • Development activities for each competency’s prioritized development is devised.

Module 3: Prepare to Evolve for Ongoing Impact

The Purpose

  • Lay out potential pushback areas and determine solutions.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Communication strategy and solutions for pushback are created.




Prepare for stakeholder pushback.

  • Defined categories of pushback and potential ideas to address expected pushback.