In order to achieve a very challenging global growth agenda over a three year period, our client conducted an organisational structure review to ensure they were fit for purpose and were in a position to deliver upon their strategic growth ambitions.

A new structure had been proposed and, consequently, there was a crucial requirement to ensure they had the right managers in the right positions. t-three were commissioned to conduct an assessment centre to identify managers who had the right skills and attributes that were required within the new structure.

The client’s key requirements were that the assessment centre needed to be individually focused (e.g. no team activities or assessment), as well as being developed against their leadership competency framework. The output of the centre needed to give a clearer view of each candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and development areas; all in line with the leadership framework.

The objectives of the individual assessment centres were two-fold. At the individual level, the objectives were to provide participants:

  • With a clear picture of their current style, their strengths and development areas as leaders (measured against the organisation’s senior management competency framework)
  • With well-rounded feedback; taking data from the individual themselves, observed activities and key stakeholders in the workplace
  • Insight into how they handle challenging situations and the skills they would want to leverage in the context of their current and future career ambitions
  • With the support to develop a practical and energising personal development plan, to progress the development of their leadership skills

Organisationally, the objectives for the programme were:

  • To provide the organisation with individual and comparative data about the performance of this cadre of managers. This data was then to be used to assess which candidates would be the best fit for the new management positions.

Approach

The individual assessment pathway consisted of a robust process designed to provide feedback and insight to individuals on their leadership style and approach. The process consisted of:

  • Pre-briefing to all participants by the Chief Executive
  • Completion of an online 360 degree feedback tool which was built against the organisations leadership competencies
  • Completion of an online Facet5 personality profile
  • Completion of a one-day individual development centre
  • Production of a detailed development report amalgamating observational data with data from the 360 degree feedback report and psychometric profile
  • Individual intensive feedback/coaching session to participants

The assessment centre itself was designed to provide a series of assessment activities that closely resembled the activities and challenges that senior managers would face in the new structure. The activities reflected the client’s future strategic and tactical priorities and were designed to provide opportunities for participants to demonstrate their skills against the organisation’s senior manager competency framework. Each exercise offered participants the opportunity to demonstrate specific behavioural indicators from several of the leadership competencies and then were observed and rated against these criteria.

The one-day development centre included activities such as:

  • A strategic influencing scenario
  • The planning and presentation of a design for a strategic team day
  • A leadership interview – probing the 5 leadership competencies
  • The leadership legacy – exploring important influences on leadership and the leadership legacy that participants wished to leave
  • A Facet5 feedback session

Reporting

A highly personalised report for each candidate was then compiled with a final “readiness” ranking score against the other internal candidates. The report also highlighted if a participant was ready now, in 1 year or 2 years (or not suitable) to progress to a senior management position within the new structure.

Results

The programme was considered very successful and, as a result, where there was an internal skills shortage, elements of the assessment centre were used to recruit external candidates. The organisation successfully filled all of the new management positions within a 3 month period. Real testimony to the success of this programme is that, three years on, the organisation has not only achieved its growth targets but 89% of managers we placed within the new structure are still in position today.

Final thoughts

Whilst there are clear benefits to organisations in conducting group assessment centres, this process proved the value of an individual approach to assessment centres. By providing a consistent observer throughout the process, we were able to offer the organisation some comparative insights and identify emerging themes relevant to this population of senior managers.

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