11. September 2019

Management Appraisal – A Neutral Look from Another Perspective

John Winston and Olivia Ferreira shake hands and smile into the camera for the press photo. A possible merger of the two companies had long been rumoured and the industry excitedly awaited the new global player on the market. While her American partner, in a great mood, spoke a few pithy words into the microphone to the reporters, in her thoughts, Ferreira was back with her team. Who would she be able to take with her on the long journey? For whom would there soon be no more space in the new organization? These were the questions currently on her mind.

Satisfied, Pierre Lagarde leans back in his chair. His first days as Managing Director of MedtechTron SA had gone well. He had obtained an overview of the company’s financial situation and had already gotten to know the majority of the staff. However, he could not yet really assess the management qualities of the senior executives he had met in person in the past week. Up to now, there had been no targeted staff development at MedtechTron; the managers, some of whom had been with the company for over 20 years, had gradually “grown into” their tasks. Lagarde decides to take stock. “If I’m going to successfully lead this company into the future, I have to know whom I can count on in tackling upcoming difficulties. Also, who knows what unused potential may be slumbering in the ranks of my new team?”

“From now, we’re going in a completely different direction,” Paul Livingston said with a clenched fist. “I’ve got a good feeling, Dan.” “With all due respect to your optimism,” smiled his board colleague, Daniel Smith, “are you sure we’ve got the right people on board?” The strategy meeting had lasted for hours and Livingston was very happy with the result but his colleague had a point – they’d still have to think about the right team for the turnaround.

Riccardo Monteverdi looks out of the window and at the factory hall from which his employees are streaming out into the Christmas season festivities. For him, the holidays will be a time to take decisions. There will definitely be intense discussions in his house again but the basic situation remains unchanged: none of his children will take over running the business when he steps down from his own company after over 30 years. It’s time to decide on a successor and it has to be someone from the staff; this much is clear to him. His people would never accept a manager “from outside” and he also feels more secure with the idea of putting his life’s work into the hands of a trusted employee. However, who could come to mind for this task?

Now she had it in black and white: sales had continually fallen over the past few months. But the market environment hadn’t changed and the busiest time of the year in their business had only just begun. Livia Pettersson didn’t understand what was happening. She had definitely noticed the recent bad mood among the sales reps but she had chalked this up to the departure of two long-serving and respected employees. Now, she wasn’t sure whether the notices handed in weren’t more the result of the ill-feeling that actually had other causes. One thing was certain: she had to act quickly and needed to address the executives. They had the greatest overview and sufficient scope to influence the implementation of short-term measures as soon as the underlying problem had been identified. Pettersson had to find out what the reasons for the difficulties were in their opinion and to what extent they were capable and willing to actively cooperate in making changes.


Perhaps you recognize one or two of these situations or one of the following scenarios:

  • You have to make a specific HR decision and would like to know which manager best meets the requirements for the special position
  • You are not sure whether your current management team can master the upcoming challenges
  • You want to find out in which places the company could be strengthened by additional talent from outside
  • You want to get an overview of the management in a new company and understand developed structures
  • You suspect there are problems in processes and in cooperation within a department or between different divisions
  • You are planning larger-scale changes in the company or have just implemented them
  • Within the scope of short and medium-term succession planning, you ask yourself whether there is sufficient talent available in the pipeline
  • You would like to systematically further develop your employees and want to know who actually has hidden potential in your organization

For us, all these cases have one thing in common – an objective external perspective would ensure more clarity!

A professionally conducted management appraisal

  • building upon intensive, focused, appreciative, competency-based, behaviour-oriented, semi-structured interviews
  • optionally supplemented by presentations, case studies, simulations, role plays and psychometric instruments and/or multi-rater feedback

can form the basis for change processes and development measures as well as provide important information for upcoming decisions in the company.


Your benefits:

  • Transparency concerning current and future high performers
  • Reality check for a planned strategy

-> can it be implemented with the existing management team?

-> should individual team members or the team as a whole be developed?

-> does additional talent have to be obtained from outside?

  • Objective executive assessments and a neutral, unpolitical process ensure greater acceptance of far-reaching (HR) decisions
  • Possible indication of comprehensive organization and management problems
  • Initiating or intensifying the exchange between the management and employees and providing an impulse for changed corporate and management culture
  • Accelerating change processes/restructuring/integrations

What is important here:

  • Client and consultant clarify their expectations in advance of the management appraisal and set a clear target
  • Ideally, appraisals should be carried out by a team where the consultants use the same interview techniques but have  a complementary professional background (e.g., chemists with industrial experience + psychologists with coaching training)
  • Appraisal interviews take place at a location offering a free discussion atmosphere for all participants
  • Open, appreciative and development-oriented attitude in the appraisal is the decisive aspect for achieving authentic and sound results
  • Findings from the appraisal interview and any other exercises are presented in a detailed report written by one of the participating interviewers in a format precisely adjusted to the client’s needs
  • There is at least one feedback meeting with each candidate on the results of their appraisal as a conclusion to the process and an opportunity to clarify any questions; this increases acceptance of the procedure and its results as well as any measures derived from the procedure
  • The companies that gain the most from a management appraisal are those that integrate the instrument as a long-term, fixed component of their talent management