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Develop Key Competencies to Excel as a Strategic Business Partner

Shift from talking about being strategic to behaving strategically.

  • Rapid pace and a high degree of change make it hard to stay relevant.
  • Lack of predictability of issues and events makes it difficult to know which HR initiatives will be worthwhile.
  • Mitigating factors make it hard to get a clear sense of what HR must do.
  • There is a lack of clarity as to the causes and consequences of events, and how HR should respond.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • HR must shift from talking about being strategic to behaving strategically by developing competencies in business acumen, organizational awareness, data analysis, and relationship building.
  • Asking 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.
  • Turn data analysis into strategic analytics tailored to your organization.
  • Seek stakeholder feedback to ensure competency development is having the desired impact and promoting alignment between organizational needs and HR actions.

Develop Key Competencies to Excel as a Strategic Business Partner 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 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.

Workshop: Develop Key Competencies to Excel as a Strategic Business Partner

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 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.
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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 7 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

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 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.


  • 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