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Systematically Develop Your HR Department

Create a simplified HR training and development process that addresses both department-wide and individual employee development needs.

  • It is often unclear what competencies an HR department should develop to achieve HR departmental priorities.
  • It can be difficult to assess selected competencies quickly and at no to low cost since many third-party assessments are expensive or too expansive and in-house assessments can be difficult to create.
  • Development plans for effectively developing an HR department in the selected competencies often don’t exist, are overly complicated, or do not accurately target the selected competencies.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Effectively develop your HR department by keeping it simple. Identify department-wide and individual competency gaps, then provide employee development opportunities using a variety of learning methods to increase the likelihood of adoption and success.

Impact and Result

  • Use McLean & Company’s three-step process to identify the competencies key to delivering on the HR department’s priorities, assess the HR team against these competencies, and create a training and development plan to address competency gaps. Weigh time, budget, and the size of the competency gap when determining how to address each gap.

Systematically Develop Your HR Department Research & Tools

2. Assess current HR competency

Assess HR against selected competencies and evaluate the results to prioritize competency gaps.

3. Plan to address competency gaps

Tailor competencies and development opportunities to develop an action plan that will address HR competency gaps.


HR Transformation

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How to complete this course:

Use these videos, along with the Project Blueprint deck above, to gain an understanding of the subject. Start with the Introduction, then move through each of the Course Modules. At the end of each Module, you will be required to complete a short test to demonstrate your understanding. You will complete this course when you have completed all of the course tests.

  • Number of Course Modules: 5
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 hours

Learning Outcome

Describe the importance of aligning the HR department with the organizational people strategy and explain the different pillars that can be leveraged to achieve this.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Select a high-level HR structure that compliments the organization's objectives and enables top HR priorities.
  • Identify and improve HR processes that are used to deliver transactional services.
  • Explain how technology is reshaping the HR function.
  • Determine the critical competencies for the HR team and identify a strategy for improving them.
  • Describe the important role change management plays in successful HR transformation and identify strategies that can be used in your organization.

Course Modules

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Introduction

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Module 1

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Module 2

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Module 3

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Module 4


Workshop: Systematically Develop Your HR Department

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: Systematically Develop Your HR Department

The Purpose

  • Create a development plan.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Bridge the gap between business needs and HR competencies.

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Select and define strategic HR competencies.

  • Strategic HR competencies selected
1.2

Define role-specific technical competencies.

  • Role-specific technical competencies defined
1.3

Determine assessment methods.

  • Assessment methods determined
1.4

Develop an action and communication plan.

  • Action and communication plan developed

Systematically Develop Your HR Department

Create a simplified process that addresses both department-wide and individual employee development needs.

Executive Summary

McLean & Company Insight

HR’s own development often falls to the wayside because of competing priorities and capacity constraints. Use a simple process to assess and address gaps and increase the likelihood of adoption.

Situation

Effective HR departments drive organizational success: organizations that had highly effective HR departments were more likely to achieve organizational goals (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2019; N=773).

However, many HR departments have not yet reached this level of effectiveness. In fact, only 38% of HR professionals rate their HR department as highly effective, and this is 1.8x more than stakeholders rate their HR departments – meaning stakeholders view their HR departments as less effective than HR views itself (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2020; N=365)

Complication

The requirements of HR are continuously increasing with the growing needs of stakeholders.

However, HR rarely has the time to focus on its own development to effectively support stakeholder needs. This is often because HR usually spends most of its time prioritizing the needs of employees outside of HR over its own needs. Compounding this is the fact that few HR departments provide internal development opportunities for HR employees (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2019; N=471).

Solution

Use McLean & Company’s three-step process to identify the competencies key to delivering on the HR department’s priorities, assess the HR team against these competencies, and develop a plan to address competency gaps.

Weigh time, budget, and the size of the competency gap when determining how to address each gap (e.g. by developing the team with department-wide training and individual development plans, bringing new employees with the desired competencies into the HR team, or by exploring offboarding employees who are not able to develop).

Highly effective HR departments positively impact organizational success

An effective HR department is important not just for HR, but for the entire organization:

A bar chart of percentages of survey respondents comparing different types of HR. The y-axis is '% of respondents that rated their HR department as highly effective'. The bars are '1' with 26%, '2' with 36%, and '3' with 52%: We can assume from attached notes that '1' is 'tactical HR' and 3 is 'strategic HR'. 'Strategic HR was 2x more likely to be rated as highly effective compared to tactical HR.'
Organizations that had highly effective HR departments were more likely to achieve their organizational goals (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2019; N=773).

High-performing HR departments drive organizational impact by:

  • Delivering exceptional customer value.
  • Responding proactively to disruptive change.
  • Driving innovation.
  • Attracting the talent the organization needs.
  • (Mercer (a))

“When HR does it right – when those organisational[sic], social or cultural capabilities are aligned to the technical core competencies which drive the strategy to deliver a pattern of consistent earnings – this raises investor confidence in the future.” (Norm Smallwood (quoted in Bolza))

However, many HR departments have not yet reached this level of effectiveness

64% of HR departments are not a partner in planning and executing strategy (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2020; N=718)

Only 38% of HR professionals rate their HR department as highly effective. However, this is 1.8x more than stakeholders rate their HR departments (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2020; N=365)

HR leaders report feeling less prepared than their peers in all other leadership roles for the following:

A horizontal bar chart documenting where HR leaders feel unprepared compared to other leaders. The x-axis is '% Difference between HR leaders and all other leaders' and the y-axis is 'Characteristics of the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) work environment' with each bar representing a characteristic. From top to bottom: 'Navigating through chaos/complexity', -12%; 'Understanding/acting on customer needs', -19%; 'Acting decisively without clear direction', -22%; 'Maintaining effectiveness despite lack of predictability', -31%; 'Anticipating/reacting to high-speed change', -36%; 'Using data to guide business decisions', -40%; 'Operating in highly digital environment', -57%. Source: DDI, 2018

Senior executives are twice as likely to view HR as reactive than HR itself

A double bar chart comparing how 'HR professionals' and 'Senior executives' view HR. The y-axis is '% of respondents' and the x-axis is 'How respondents view their HR department', numbered '1', '2', and '3'. We can assume that '1' is reactive and '3' is proactive. 21% of HR professionals and 41% of senior executives view HR as '1', 62% of HR professionals and 48% of senior executives view HR as '2', 17% of HR professionals and 11% of senior executives view HR as '3'. Source: DDI, 2018

Many HR departments lack development opportunities to ensure their effectiveness

Only 22% of HR departments are highly effective at HR development (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2019; N=907)

Few HR departments provide internal development opportunities, which are more effective than external learning opportunities. This is concerning since HR development has the largest association with higher overall HR effectiveness (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2019; N=907).

  • 9% — Rotation into other departments or business units
  • 18% — Rotation into other HR functions
  • 21% — Internal communities of practice
  • 26% — Mentorship (internal or external)
  • 38% — Stretch assignments
  • 39% — Coaching
  • 50% — Access to learning resources
  • 57% — HR specific courses, programs, or certification
  • 68% — HR association membership
  • 73% — Attending conferences
  • (McLean & Company, Trends Survey 2019; N=471)

McLean & Company Insight

When faced with capacity constraints, development is often the first thing to fall off. Dedicating time, effort, and resources is key to making the shift toward HR effectiveness. The problem is, this isn’t happening – usually because HR departments spend most of their time prioritizing the needs of employees instead of their own needs.

Developing the HR team elevates the performance of not only HR, but also the organization

HR often spends most of its time focusing on the needs of those outside of HR over its own needs

As a result, HR employees’ development needs, among other HR needs, are often left unaddressed

This impacts the organization since the work performed by HR supports and enables all employees

McLean & Company Insight

For HR to focus on its own development, HR leadership needs to act as an advocate and demonstrate the link between HR development and HR effectiveness and efficiency to senior leadership and the organization.

Develop your HR department with McLean & Company’s competency framework

Functional Competencies

  • Managing through change and uncertainty
  • Needs analysis
  • Facilitation
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Strategic mindset
  • Conflict management
  • Dynamic learning mindset
  • Branding and marketing
  • Technology enablement
  • Customer focus
  • Communication
  • Project management
  • Program planning and development
  • Coaching
  • Influence
  • Competencies for strategic HR
  • Relationship building
  • Data literacy
  • Business and financial acumen
  • Organizational awareness


Use McLean & Company’s three-step process to develop your HR department

1.
Identify Required Future HR Competency

2.
Assess Current HR Competency

3.
Plan to Address Competency Gaps

McLean & Company Insight

Effectively develop your HR department by keeping it simple. Identify department-wide and individual employee competency gaps, then provide development opportunities using a variety of learning methods to increase the likelihood of adoption and success.

Step 1

Identify Required Future HR Competency

1.
Identify Required Future HR Competency

2.
Assess Current HR Competency
3.
Plan to Address Competency Gaps

After completing this step you will have:

  • Identified key HR departmental priorities.
  • Selected key strategic competencies.
  • Defined competencies for each role.

Use McLean & Company’s HR Development Workbook throughout this blueprint to plan to develop the HR team

Use this tool to in Step 1 to:

  • Record departmental priorities
  • Document selected competencies needed to deliver on departmental priorities
  • Map the competencies to each role in the HR department

Use this tool to in Step 2 to:

  • Assess competency levels across the HR department
  • Identify department-wide and individual employee competency gaps

Use this tool to in Step 3 to:

  • Create an action plan to address competency gaps

Sample of the 'HR Development Workbook'.

Identify key HR priorities

The work of identifying priorities may have already been done. If they exist, consult the talent strategy as a starting point, or review other organizational documents to determine departmental priorities from scratch.

  1. Talent (HR) Strategy This identifies the organizational priorities that HR supports (those that are the most impactful on achieving organizational goals) and how it plans to do so. Review:
    • Talent implications: The requirements, effects, or consequences of the organizational strategy on talent.
    • Strategic pillars and HR outcomes: The vision for HR and what HR needs to accomplish to achieve it.
    • HR metrics selected as part of strategy.
  2. Or, from scratch If a Talent (HR) Strategy doesn’t exist, leverage McLean & Company’s HR Stakeholder Management Survey.
    1. Examine the results of the survey, including the list of priorities identified by stakeholders.
    2. Select the top three to five priorities HR will focus on over the next one to two years. Focus development around these priorities over others.
    3. Brainstorm how HR will drive success of the priorities identified by the survey.
    4. Decide who is responsible for implementation.
    For example, if stakeholders identified Talent Acquisition (TA) as a key priority and also identified they are experiencing issues with this HR function (e.g. long time-to-fill times, difficulties hiring top talent), prioritize development related to TA over functions identified as lower priority or with fewer problems.
  3. Alternatively, conduct any or all of the following activities
    to identify the organization’s priorities. From there, identify the three to five priorities that HR will focus on over the next one to two years.
    • Business SWOT
    • PESTLE
    • Business Model Canvas
    • Stakeholder Interviews
    • Document Review
    • Porter’s Five Forces

Refer to the Strategy Exploration Guide for more information on these activities.

Record HR priorities and those responsible for implementing in tab 2 of the HR Development Workbook.

Select metrics to demonstrate the impact of HR development

Create goals for HR development that are aligned with the HR priorities identified previously to maximize business impact.

Example

Sample HR Development Goals Sample Development Progress Metrics Sample Business Impact Metrics
Build the HR department’s change management competency
  • Self & manager assessments
  • Progress against individual development plans
  • Stakeholder satisfaction ratings
  • Ability to complete tasks on time
  • Decreased time to complete tasks
  • Expected versus actual HR budget spend
  • Number of strategic projects completed
Build the HR department’s business acumen competency
  • Other feedback mechanisms (e.g. performance management ratings)
  • McLean & Company’s 360 Degree Feedback Diagnostic
  • HR team engagement
  • McLean & Company’s HR Stakeholder Management Diagnostic
  • Overall perception and satisfaction with HR
  • Look for evidence of growing HR business impact and credibility

Refer to McLean & Company’s HR Metrics Library for a full list of metrics.

Record selected metrics in tab 2 of the HR Development Workbook.

Leverage McLean & Company’s HR competency model when selecting competencies

This competency model consists of competencies identified by McLean & Company through extensive research as being key to an effective HR department.

A diagram of the 'Functional Competencies' listed previously with the 'Competencies for strategic HR' highlighted. The lower section, titled 'Technical Competencies', has no words and a repeating pattern of a pencil and wrench in an X, similar to a Tools and Templates icon.

For competency definitions and proficiency levels, refer to the Human Resources Competency Library and/or the Comprehensive Competency Library.

Select key competencies required for the entire HR team to achieve HR priorities

What is a competency? It is made up of:

  • Knowledge
    • A body of information that a person possesses that may be applied directly to the performance of a function.
    • Examples: Facts, events, systems, ideas, theories, methods, procedures, principles, or concepts.
  • Skills
    • Demonstrated and observable ability to perform a task with ease and proficiency.
    • Implies measurable performance.
  • Attributes
    • An individual’s demonstrated personality traits. Often broader and more abstract than skills or knowledge.
    • Examples: Characteristics like attitude, motivation, ambition, values, and demeanor.

Use or build upon the following to select competencies for all of HR:

Identify and record the competencies in tab 3 of the HR Development Workbook.

Base HR competencies on key HR priorities

To select competencies, ask:

  • What behaviors will HR need to embody to ensure the success of HR initiatives?
  • What skills are key to deliver on departmental goals?
  • What knowledge is required to be able to reach goals?
  • What abilities will allow the department to achieve success?
  • What are the future competencies required in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment?

Evaluate the following four competencies if there is desire to develop HR employees’ strategic behavior

McLean & Company found the following four competencies are key to being a strategic HR professional. If one or more of the competencies is already well established within HR, no need to focus on those now. Select the others for additional development focus.

Business & Financial Acumen

Makes decisions based on a solid understanding of the business and the wider industry – a broader business mindset. Maximizes results by understanding and aligning actions with the organization’s goals, core functions, needs, and values. Applies financial knowledge to address organizational needs.

Organizational Awareness

Aligns decisions with the organizational context. Contributes to the organization by understanding and aligning actions with the organization’s goals, core functions, needs, and values.

Data Literacy

Leverages data to drive decision making and identify opportunities. Identifies, collects, and interprets quality data that informs human capital decision making. Communicates, and acts on, information and insight from relevant data (including metrics, visualizations, and analytics).

Relationship Building

Builds relationships to communicate effectively and obtain buy-in for decisions. Develops internal and external professional, trusting relationships. Purposefully develops networks to build value through collaboration.

Outline the roles within HR

1

Segment the HR department according to what is appropriate for your organization. List the segments that exist.

You may choose to segment by functions, teams, or job families.

Sample of the 'HR Development Workbook' titled 'Roles and Competencies'.

2

Record all roles within the HR department, for each segment.

Note that not all roles will fit into a function or job family (e.g. specialized roles such as employment lawyer, ergonomist).

Sample of the 'HR Development Workbook', tab 5.

Outline roles using tab 5 of the HR Development Workbook.

Identify key role-specific, technical skills that aren’t captured by the competencies selected earlier

The purpose of this activity is to capture any outstanding key skills that are not captured in the previously selected competencies.

  • Complete this for all roles, if time allows. Otherwise, prioritize key roles (roles that, if left vacant, would have a large impact on the organization’s productivity).
  • This activity is meant to capture key skills – not all skills – associated with each role.

McLean & Company Insight

The objective is not to identify every single skill (e.g. MS office) involved in a role. Identify skills that are most critical for achieving the core purpose of the role.

Record skills in tab 4 of the HR Development Workbook.

To do this, use one or more of the following options:

  1. If you used McLean & Company’s process to Redesign Your HR Structure, review the accountabilities and responsibilities outlined for each role.
  2. Use the Job Analysis Questionnaire to collect information from internal job experts and build outlines describing the skills required to perform in the role.
  3. Complete any of the following four methods to identify key skills:

    1. Job descriptions: Review the following components of the job descriptions and identify the skills that lend themselves to those items.
      • Main responsibilities and accountabilities
      • Required qualifications
      • Preferred qualifications
      • Competencies (core and functional)
    2. Job postings, if updated more recently than job descriptions. Look at the following:
      • Job summary
      • Main responsibilities
      • Required qualifications
    3. External definitions: Look to industry or function reports and programs to help inform current skills, e.g. Occupational Information Network, Burning Glass.
    4. Technical definitions: If the skills are technical in nature, certification programs are a good starting point for defining these skills.

Transform the outstanding skills into competencies

Create new competencies that capture the role-specific skills identified on the previous slide.

Do this by:

  1. Taking one role and grouping together similar or related skills
  2. Repeating step 1 for each role to ensure the resulting competencies apply fully and appropriately to each role
  3. Reviewing the skill groupings holistically (across roles) to identify opportunities to consolidate groupings (e.g. combine duplicate groupings)
  4. Assigning a competency title to each grouping

Why transform skills into competencies?

A skill is a demonstrated and observable ability to perform a task proficiently. It implies measurable performance.

Competencies consist of groupings of skills, among other things, such as knowledge (i.e. a body of information a person possesses) and attributes (i.e. demonstrated personality traits, including attitude, motivation, ambition, values, and demeanor).

Capturing skills within competencies, rather than leaving them as separate from competencies, will:

  • Help avoid confusion about competencies versus skills
  • Allow for the use of a single set – rather than multiple sets – of assessments and analyses (e.g. one set for competencies and another set for skills)

Complete this using tab 4 of the HR Development Workbook.

Do not force skills to fit within competencies. If a skill does not fit naturally within a grouping, capture it separately.

Example:
Role – Specialist, Compensation

Identify critical role-specific skills that are not captured in your selected competencies: Group similar skills together. Review holistically and consolidate redundant groupings. Assign a competency title to each grouping:

Sample skills list for the Compensation Specialist role

  • Query, audit, and update compensation data
  • Perform advanced Excel modeling
  • Research compensation trends and policies
  • Review market data and update the organization’s pay structure
  • Model and analyze estimated costs analyses of compensation programs
  • Update the organization’s compensation policies (as needed)

Sample competency title: Database Proficiency

  • Query, audit, and update compensation data
  • Perform advanced Excel modeling

Sample competency title: Compensation Management

  • Research compensation trends and policies
  • Review market data and update the organization’s pay structure
  • Model and analyze estimated costs analyses of compensation programs
  • Update the organization’s compensation policies (as needed)

Map competencies to each role and identify proficiency levels

Select competencies for each role by evaluating the outcomes and responsibilities of each. Use Mclean & Company’s HR Structure Workbook if a summary of each role’s accountabilities and responsibilities doesn’t exist.

Keep it simple by focusing on competencies most critical to each role. Not every competency will be appropriate for every role. Don’t overburden or overwhelm employees by assigning them to develop every competency – select a maximum of three to five competencies per role.

In addition, strategic competencies don’t need to be mapped to every HR role.

Best practice is to select 3-5 of each type of competency (core, functional, and leadership competencies) for no more than 9-15 combined competencies per role.

McLean & Company Insight

Developing HR is not only about strategic competencies. An effective HR department balances operational excellence with a strategic approach.

Record specific competencies for each role identified in tabs 4 and 5 of the HR Development Workbook.

Next, identify the level of proficiency that is required for each competency

A proficiency level is a detailed statement that describes what a competency looks like when it is performed by a person in the job. It describes the observable behaviors. For example, an HR coordinator may require a Level 1 in Communication, whereas a CHRO may require a Level 3 or 4.

Example: General Proficiency Levels

This shows a progression in behavior demonstration for a competency:

  • Level 1 — Baseline behaviors
  • Level 2 — Practical application of the behaviors
  • Level 3 — Role models, coaches, and influences the behaviors
  • Level 4 — Envisions and innovates the next generation of behaviors

Step 2

Assess Current HR Competency

1.
Identify Required Future HR Competency

2.
Assess Current HR Competency

3.
Plan to Address Competency Gaps

After completing this step you will have:

  • Selected an assessment method.
  • Assessed against selected competencies.
  • Evaluated the results of the assessment.
  • Prioritized competency gaps.

Communicate the project’s vision to HR employees to ensure accurate assessment results

HR employees might be apprehensive about a competency assessment, especially if they fear losing their jobs or feel they lack the competencies required for the future.

To ensure an honest and accurate assessment of your current department, communicate the project purpose or vision, as well as the big picture:

  1. Reinforce the goal of the assessment is to determine a department-level baseline to support the HR department in striving to effectively deliver on your talent (HR) strategy.
  2. Explain the competencies selected will equip them with the knowledge, skills, and ability to be more effective in their roles and to achieve the strategy.
  3. Emphasize what they and the organization will gain from the improved HR competencies.
  4. Put the challenge on the table. Ask the team to discuss potential personal and group gains, and potential impacts (risks, losses, challenges) from departmental change.
  5. Agree upon ground rules to minimize the potential that self-interest will derail the project.

McLean & Company Insight

Treat tenured employees with care. They have extensive organizational knowledge and are experienced with current processes. They are tenured employees because they have successfully adapted to the organization’s expectations in the past; don’t assume they will not be able to adapt again.

“When you have the vision outlined, you can get your HR employees thinking about the future, and what their role in it is.” (Andrew Spence, HR Transformation Director, Glass Bead Consulting)

Review competency assessment options

Select the tool that will be used to assess competency across the department:

Both options have merit. The HR Development Workbook is a faster assessment method, while the 360 Degree Feedback Diagnostic is more robust as it contains input from a wider variety of sources (peers, direct reports, others). Keep it simple by picking the option that is the most readily available. The following slides provide more detail on the two options.

HR Development Workbook EITHER/
OR
360 Degree Feedback
The HR Development Workbook generates a self and manager assessment for each role to assess role-specific competencies.

Recommended for small to medium size HR teams.

McLean & Company’s 360 Degree Feedback Diagnostic can be loaded with McLean & Company’s competencies or your own.

Recommended for small to medium size HR teams.

For large teams, use this diagnostic to gather 180-degree feedback rather than 360-degree to make collecting feedback more manageable.

Review any HR technology available in house. Some HR technologies (e.g. talent management software) have competency assessment functionality.

For more information on 360-degree feedback programs, please refer to the blueprint, Design a 360 Degree Feedback Program.

Other competency-based assessment options can be used, but are not covered in this blueprint

A competency-based assessment evaluates employees’ knowledge, skills, and attributes against an organization’s competency framework or a vendor’s identified competency framework.

Competency-based assessments can include one or a combination of multiple assessments, such as:

  • Self-assessment
  • Manager assessment
  • Behavioral interviews
  • Simulations

From the assessment, a proficiency level can be mapped to the candidate, allowing for the implementation across all role levels and the personalization of development plans.

For more information about these assessment options, review McLean & Company’s High Potential Assessment Catalog.

Tips

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Assessments must be based on observable behaviors, mitigating biases.
  • Ensure the competencies being assessed are inclusive.
Validity and Reliability
  • A common framework should be used to objectively and consistently assess employees using observable behaviors.
  • Validity decreases with the fewer assessments administered, e.g. only managers assess the competencies without self-assessment.
Vendor Assessment
  • Ready-made assessments can be quickly deployed and easily reviewed.
  • It may be difficult to find competency frameworks that align perfectly with the organization’s definition.
In-House Assessment
  • Can be cheaper to administer if done in-house and there’s a competency framework in place.
  • Administering in-house will be cheaper in terms of costs, however not in terms of resources, as they must create and administer the assessment on an ongoing basis.

If using McLean & Company’s HR Development Workbook to evaluate competencies

Create the assessment

Create manager and self-assessments for each role, using tab 6 of the HR Development Workbook. Alternatively, if preferred, create only a self-assessment or only a manager assessment.

To do this:

  1. Specify the function and role.
  2. Copy and paste the competencies and proficiency levels outlined in the previous tab into the spaces provided in the assessment sheet.

This tab should be distributed to every member of the HR team and their managers. It is also is print-ready should you choose to distribute a hard copy.

Changing the rating scale in the Workbook will break the formulas used to aggregate the results. The assessment in the Workbook is designed with a four-point rating scale.

Complete the assessment

Provide all HR employees with a copy of the Comprehensive Competency Library or a copy of the organization’s competency definitions and proficiency levels.

HR employees and managers should complete the competency assessment individually, then discuss assessment results together. Ratings should be completed on a scale of 1-4; be careful not to confuse ratings with proficiency levels.

During the discussion, managers should focus on where assessment results differ and work to reach a consensus that represents the final rating.

Aggregate the data, evaluate results, and prioritize competency gaps

If using the Workbook…

  1. Aggregate the results by transferring the data from the individual assessments into tab 7 of the HR Development Workbook. To do this:
    • Record the function, role, employee name/ID, and the rating (on a 1-4 scale) for each competency. Based on the rating, the cell will turn red, yellow, or green.
  2. Review the aggregate results in tab 7 and look for:
    • Competencies that have substantial red areas – these are areas that the entire HR department needs to focus on.
    • Competencies and skills that are mostly green – this indicates areas of strength.
  3. Examine department assessment results on tab 8 to identify departmental strengths and gaps.

OR...

If using McLean & Company’s 360 Degree Feedback Diagnostic:

  1. Review the aggregate data results:
    • Review the average overall score for each competency, one by one.
    • For competencies mapped to management roles, review the average score from the Direct Report column to identify how leaders are performing.
    • For competencies mapped to staff roles, review the average score from the Manager column to identify how managers view their performance.

Prioritize departmental competency gaps in tab 9 of the HR Development Workbook.

Lastly, prioritize competency gaps based on:

  • Prevalence: Prioritize competency gaps that are widespread over ones that only affect a few employees (have those employees address those competencies in individual development plans).
  • Importance: Develop competency gaps most critical to the achievement of HR and organizational priorities identified in Step 1. Leave the rest for individual development plans.

Step 3

Plan to Address Competency Gaps

1.
Identify Required Future HR Competency
2.
Assess Current HR Competency

3.
Plan to Address Competency Gaps

After completing this step you will have:

  • Customized the HR Competency Development Guide with relevant competencies and development opportunities.
  • Developed an action plan to address HR competency gaps.

Ensure development plans created during this Step consist of a variety of learning methods

McLean & Company recommends using a blend of the following types of learning methods:

Experiential: Relational: Formal:
On-the-job learning opportunities that provide the chance to learn by doing. Opportunities where one develops learning relationships with others and learns from others. Structured learning and training programs such as courses, webinars, and reading.
Benefits
  • Integrates development into day-to-day role and tasks
  • Provides chances to practice or apply formal and relational learning
  • Cost and time effective
  • Helps with overcoming challenges and making decisions by providing external and alternative perspectives
  • Provides support while learning
  • Mutually beneficial
  • Ensures consistency with standardized knowledge sharing and clear learning objectives
  • Good way to introduce and teach foundational concepts for new competencies.

Determine how to address department-wide competency gaps — Develop

Build competencies within the existing team

  1. Review the prioritized competency gaps created at the end of Step 2.
  2. Review competency development options in the HR Competency Development Guide and identify the development opportunities that will be used to address each competency gap department-wide.
  3. Maximize development with a combination of experiential, relational, and formal learning. Finding the right mix of learning methods to suit various learning styles, the organization, and goals is essential.
    • While it may be tempting to only select formal courses and training, without an opportunity to apply and practice formal learning (which provides experience and feedback), the foundational knowledge will be lost.
  4. Create a plan to communicate and implement development opportunities.
  5. Identify evaluation methods (self-assessment, 360-degree program, PM appraisals after the first year, etc.).

Document department-wide development initiatives in tab 9 of the HR Development Workbook.

A advertisement for McLean & Company's 'Elevate HR' program titled 'Your Elevate HR Online Experience'. Features include 'Self-paced eLearning', 'Live online sessions', 'Varied activities', 'Structured discussion questions', and 'Supporting McLean resources'. Key topics include: 'Integrated Leadership', 'Business Acumen & Critical Thinking', 'Data Literacy', and 'Relationship Building'.

Leverage McLean & Company’s Elevate HR program. It develops strategic HR leaders by focusing on the four key strategic competencies (see Step 1) through research-driven facilitation, engaging activities, and peer learning.

Address gaps not covered by the department-wide development opportunities — Develop

Require employees to work with their managers to create individual development plans (IDPs)

Provide development material to HR managers and staff:
Have managers work with employees to review the results of their competency assessment (from Step 2) and create an IDP:
  • Ensure employees’ aspirations are aligned with the department’s new direction. Transparent conversations will allow employees to self-select out if appropriate.
  • Create an IDP that incorporates a variety of learning methods.

Use the Learning Methods Catalog for development ideas.

Use the Individual Development Plan Template to guide conversations with employees.

Explore alternative solutions if development isn’t sufficient to address each competency gap

Identify alternative solutions to address competency gaps that cannot be fully closed with development opportunities:

  • Buy/Borrow: Bring new employees with the desired competencies into the HR team
  • Exit: Explore internal opportunities outside of the HR team or offboard when employees are not able to develop

See the following slides for more information on these two solutions.

Resourcing decisions should be driven by three factors:

  • Size of the development gap
    • What is the magnitude of each competency gap?
    • How difficult is it to develop each competency?
  • Time
    • How quickly is this competency needed?
    • Is it riskier to leave the position undeveloped for a time (e.g. develop an existing employee) or to make a quick decision (e.g. hire a new employee)?
    • Is there sufficient development time available to HR team members?
  • Budget
    • How much will it cost to address the gap using each option?
    • Is there a premium attached to hiring for this competency?
    • What represents a better long-term investment?

Bring competencies to the team through hiring — Buy/Borrow

McLean & Company Insight

Don't assume you need to hire permanently to fill a skills gap. You can hire externally on a temporary basis while the HR team upskills.

External hiring:

  • Brings in new perspectives and ideas and can drive innovation.
  • Is faster than upskilling current employees.

Hire for ability to coach and then encourage new employees to share their expertise with others on the team.

However:

It might be more appropriate to “borrow talent” in the form of consultants, contractors, or advisory services. This approach can be:

  • Faster than hiring externally.
  • A temporary solution while the team is developing.

Borrowing options:

  • Engage a contractor or consultant
  • Research outsourcing parts of work, either permanently or until the competency has been developed internally
  • Search for internal transfers

For more information review the blueprint Develop an Agile Talent Acquisition Strategy.

Review options for employees not meeting development expectations

McLean & Company Insight

Wherever possible, give employees dedicated time, resources, and support to learn and develop new competencies before making any changes.

If an employee is not performing after they were provided with time and opportunity to develop the new competencies, explore the root causes of the low performance:

Performance inhibitors

  • Clarity – Lack of clarity on their role expectations.
  • Motivation – Lack of motivation to complete their work, either in quality of output or amount of work they are completing.
  • Ability – Lack of ability due to resourcing, technology, organizational change, or lack of skills to do the job.
  • People Skills – Problematic people skills, externally with clients or internally with colleagues, affecting their performance or the team’s engagement.
  • Personal Factors – Personal factors, usually outside the workplace, affecting performance in their role.

Address low performance using McLean & Company’s blueprint Equip Managers to Improve Poor Performance.

If performance doesn’t improve after these steps have been taken, review options for moving the employee out of the position:

  • Redeploy
    Identify if there are other roles in the organization for which the employee may be more suited.
  • Offboarding
    Prepare to offboard the employee if there is no other role that is appropriate and desirable.

Create a plan to develop HR competencies

Use tab 10 of the HR Development Workbook to document the process to develop HR competencies, now that competencies and development opportunities have been identified

  1. The actions necessary to develop HR competencies. For example:
    • Communicate expectations for development planning to managers.
    • Design, communicate, and implement selected development opportunities.
    • Offboard members of HR who will not be remaining with the organization.
    • Hire X number of new members of HR.
  2. Those responsible for the action.
  3. A timeline and progress marker.
  4. The required resources and expected cost.

McLean & Company Insight

Today's critical HR competencies will evolve as the world of work continues to change. Regularly assessing your development priorities ensures the development plan remains current and impactful.

Align the new competency framework with existing HR programs and processes

Program/Process Align with the new competency framework
Talent Acquisition
  • Update job descriptions and evaluation methods as needed to ensure candidates with the desired competencies are assessed and selected.
Onboarding
  • Ask managers to integrate the new competencies into onboarding activities.
Learning & Development (L&D)
  • Align L&D offerings with the selected competencies, department-wide development opportunities, and IDPs. Ensure L&D offerings support a blended learning approach by offering experiential, relational, and formal learning opportunities.
Performance Management (PM)
  • Do not evaluate employees against new competencies until they have had time to understand and begin developing them.
Total Rewards
  • After employees have had time to understand and begin developing new competencies, encourage employees to develop the competencies and use them in their roles by aligning rewards (including both recognition and compensation) with the desired competencies.
High-Potential Program
  • Use the selected competencies to select and evaluate high-potentials, ensuring the high-potential program is supporting the desired vision for the HR department.
Workforce & Succession Planning
  • Incorporate the competencies into both workforce planning and succession planning and use information regarding the competencies from performance management to inform and enhance the effectiveness of both planning processes.

McLean & Company Insight

Competencies in isolation are not going to move the dial for the HR department’s performance (e.g. goal achievement, strategy execution) nor towards attaining the desired future state. Ensure competencies are woven into other HR programs to ensure success.

Continue to evaluate progress and impact

Review metrics selected in Step 1 to determine progress and make changes where required

Measure progress toward competency development

  • Self and manager assessments
  • Progress against individual development plans
  • Other feedback mechanisms (e.g. performance management ratings)
  • McLean & Company’s 360 Degree Feedback Diagnostic

Measure impact of developing HR competencies

  • Stakeholder satisfaction ratings
  • Ability to complete tasks on time
  • Decreased time to complete tasks
  • Expected versus actual HR budget spend
  • Number of strategic projects completed
  • HR team engagement
  • McLean & Company’s HR Stakeholder Management Diagnostic
    • Overall perception and satisfaction with HR
    • Look for evidence of growing HR business impact and credibility

Key insights

Insight 1

HR’s own development often falls to the wayside because of competing priorities and capacity constraints. Use a simple, straightforward process to assess and address gaps and increase the likelihood of adoption.

Insight 2

When faced with capacity constraints, development is often the first thing to fall off. Dedicating time, effort, and resources is key to making the shift toward HR effectiveness. The problem is, this isn’t happening – usually because HR departments spend most of their time prioritizing the needs of employees instead of their own needs.

Insight 3

Systematically develop your HR department while keeping it simple. A targeted approach to identifying department-wide and individual employee competency gaps, supported by simplified development opportunities that are aligned to each competency gap, will increase the likelihood of adoption and success.

Insight 4

Developing HR is not only about strategic competencies. An effective HR department balances operational excellence with a strategic approach.

Insight 5

Wherever possible, give employees dedicated time, resources, and support to learn and develop new competencies before making any changes.

Insight 6

Today's critical HR competencies will evolve as the world of work continues to change. Regularly assessing your development priorities ensures the development plan remains current and impactful.

Workshop Overview

Session 1
Select and define strategic HR competencies
Session 2
Define role-specific technical competencies
Session 3
Define role-specific technical competencies (cont.)
Session 4
Determine assessment methods
Session 5
Develop an action and communication plan
Agenda
  • Identify key HR departmental priorities.
  • Select HR competencies that apply to all HR roles.
  • Review and modify key competency names and descriptions.
  • Segment HR department by function or job family.
  • Identify roles for each function/job family.
  • Review and prioritize roles.
  • Identify key skills not captured in previous competencies for each role.
  • Group skills into competency buckets.
  • Create role-specific competency names and descriptions.
  • Map all competencies to roles.
  • Identify key skills not captured in previous competencies for each role.
  • Group skills into competency buckets.
  • Create role-specific competency names and descriptions.
  • Map all competencies to roles.
  • Select metrics to demonstrate impact of HR development (as time allows).
  • Brainstorm and prioritize assessment methods.
  • Select assessment methods by role.
  • Create action plan for assessments and holistic evaluation.
  • Identify integration points between competency framework into other HR programs and practices.
  • Create plan to communicate projects vision to HR team.
  • Review HR development options and develop high-level action and communication plan.
Deliverables
  • Identified 3-5 key HR competencies (from HR Functional Competency Library)
  • HR Development Workbook (Tabs 2 & 5)
  • Identified 3-5 key technical competencies for each role (as time permits)
  • HR Development Workbook (Tabs 3 & 5)
  • Identified 3-5 key technical competencies for each role (as time permits)
  • HR Development Workbook (Tabs 3 & 5)
  • Determined assessment methods
  • HR Action & Communication Plan
  • HR Action & Communication Plan

Workshop Overview

Pre-work Post-work
McLean & Company
Client Data Gathering and Planning
  • Incorporate material from client into the workshop materials as appropriate.
Implementation Supported Through Analyst Calls
  • Complete a final review of the competency framework and send to client.
  • Provide support and advice, through advisory calls, for technical competency proficiency statements
  • Provide support, through advisory calls, during rollout.
Client
  • Organizational mission, vision, and values documentation.
  • Existing core or leadership competency framework (or similar framework).
  • HR strategy, workforce plan, or other related documents.
  • Complete HR Stakeholder Management Survey (recommended).
  • Job descriptions for existing HR roles.
  • Create proficiency statements for technical competencies.
  • Roll out competency framework.

Leverage Feedback to Drive Performance

Identify impactful initiatives using our diagnostic programs to collect feedback from employees, stakeholders, and the HR team.

Optimize the HR Department for Success

HR Stakeholder Management Survey
Align HR initiatives with business strategy and stakeholder needs.

HR Management & Governance
Improve HR’s core functions and drive project success.

Improve Employee Experience and HR Processes

Pandemic Engagement Pulse Check
Assess the effect of pandemic response plans on employee engagement.

New Hire Survey
Ensure recruiting and onboarding programs are effective by surveying new employees.

Employee Engagement
Move beyond measuring job satisfaction with a comprehensive view of engagement.

McLean Employee Experience Monitor
Evolve to leader-driven engagement with a real-time dashboard and results.

Employee Exit Survey
Understand why people leave the organization to proactively retain top talent.

360 Degree Feedback
Empower employees with a holistic view of their performance to prioritize development.

View our diagnostic programs for more information.

McLean & Company offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

Guided Implementation

Workshop

Consulting

"Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful." "Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track." "We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place." "Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project."

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

Research Contributors and Experts

  • Heidi Allen
    HR and Transformation Leader
  • Anonymous
    Senior Director, Leadership Development Services
  • Anonymous
    Senior Director, Research and Advisory Services
  • Trent Burner SHRM-SCP
    Founder of Global People Solutions, LLC and Former VP of HR at Walmart Stores, Inc.
  • Anjana Dhaliwal
    HR Transformation
    Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG)
  • Carol Ann Malinowski
    Vice President of People Operations, Analytics and Rewards, Vitals
  • Michael Messier
    Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Excelitas Technologies
  • Megan O'Brien
    HR Business Partner
    Vale Canada Limited
  • Joanne Renaud
    Manager− HR Business Partners
    Bruce Power
  • Robin Schooling
    Vice President of Human Resources
    Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge
  • Dr. Cecile Schultz
    Senior Lecturer and Academic Section Head
    Tswhane University of Technology
  • Andrew Spence
    HR Transformation Director
    Glass Bead Consulting
  • May Tran CHRL, SPHRi
    HR Transformation Lead
    Walmart Canada
  • Eric Lacroix
    Director, Total Rewards and Performance
    Business Development Bank of Canada
  • Sandra Wallace
    Human Resources Officer
    City of Brandon
  • Jennifer Wenzel
    Senior Director, People Services - International Operations, Canadian Red Cross
  • Sherri Wimes
    SHRM-SCP, CEC, Human Resource Consultant
    Human Resource Innovations, LLC

Works Cited

Arnold, Jennifer. “Enhance Your HR Effectiveness with Cross-Training.” Society for Human Resource Management, 21 March 2017. Web. July 2017.

Bolza, Miklos. “Is it time for a shift in HR mindset?” Human Resources Director Australia, 16 August 2016. Web. July 2017.

Charan, Ram, Dominic Barton, and Dennis Carey. “People Before Strategy: A New Role for the CHRO.” Harvard Business Review, July 2015. Web. July 2017.

“Facing Future Challenges: Transforming the HR Function.” Ernst and Young, 2017. Web.

"Global Leadership Forecast 2018: 25 Research Insights to Fuel Your People Strategy". DDI, 2018. Web. 14 August 2020.

Haak, Tom. “10 HR Trends for 2017.” HR Trend Institute, 23 November 2016. Web. July 2017.

Ingham, John and Ulrich, Dave. “Building Better HR Departments.” Strategic HR Review, 15:3 (July 2016): 129-136. Web. June 2017.

Kalra, Aditi Sharma. “Companies in Asia are most likely to invest in HR upskilling in 2016.” Human Resources Online, 12 April 2016. Web. July 2017.

Mercer (a). “How HR Needs To Change − Executive Briefing.” Mercer, 2017. Web.

Mercer (b). “Mercer Talent Trends: 2017 Global Study Empowerment in a Disrupted World.” Mercer, 2017. Web.

Mercer. “Why HR Needs to Change.” Mercer, 2016. Web.

Morneau Shepell. “Human Resources Trends for 2017: Insights on what HR leaders are expecting in the coming year.” Morneau Shepell, 2016. Web.

Richardson, Todd. “Don’t Replace Your HR Department, Refocus It.” Forbes, 17 January 2017. Web. July 2017.

Seth, Manav. “Inside the Mind of a CHRO: Korn Ferry Survey.” People Matters, 11 May 2017. Web. July 2017.

Stroud, Jen. “Why You Spend 70% of Your Time Processing the Same Request.” Service Now Blog, 15 September 2016. Web. July 2017.

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 2-phase advisory process. You'll receive 4 touchpoints with our researchers, all included in your membership.

Guided Implementation #1 - Identify and assess HR competencies
  • Call #1 - Review the competencies selected for your HR department to achieve HR departmental priorities.
  • Call #2 - Review the rollout of the competency assessment, including communications.

Guided Implementation #2 - Create a development plan and integrate HR competencies into other HR programs
  • Call #1 - Discuss research recommendations for closing competency gaps and review department-wide development opportunities.
  • Call #2 - Review the HR programs that exist within your HR department and discuss integration needs.

Contributors

  • Heidi Allen, HR and Transformation Leader
  • Trent Burner SHRM-SCP, ‎Founder of Global People Solutions, LLC and Former VP of HR at Walmart Stores, Inc.
  • Anjana Dhaliwal, HR Systems Manager − HR Transformation, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG)
  • Eric Lacroix, Director, Total Rewards and Performance, Business Development Bank of Canada
  • Carol Ann Malinowski, ‎Vice President of People Operations, Analytics and Rewards, Vitals
  • Michael Messier, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Excelitas Technologies
  • Megan O'Brien, HR Business Partner, Vale Canada Limited
  • Joanne Renaud, Manager − HR Business Partners, Bruce Power
  • Robin Schooling, Vice President of Human Resources, Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge
  • Dr. Cecile Schultz, Senior Lecturer and Academic Section Head, Tswhane University of Technology
  • Andrew Spence, HR Transformation Director, Glass Bead Consulting
  • May Tran CHRL, SPHRi, HR Transformation Lead, Walmart Canada
  • Sandra Wallace, Human Resources Officer, City of Brandon
  • Jennifer Wenzel, ‎Senior Director, People Services - International Operations, Canadian Red Cross
  • Sherri Wimes SHRM-SCP, CEC, Human Resource Consultant, Human Resource Innovations, LLC
  • Anonymous, Senior Director, Leadership Development Services
  • Anonymous, Senior Director, Research and Advisory Service