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Assessment consulting defining "what great looks like" for a major multi-national consulting firm

In 2005, Alexander Mann Solutions was awarded the RPO contract for the UK arm of a major multi-national consulting firm to deliver all permanent recruitment in the region. This has been an ongoing partnership, during which we were recently commissioned to help shape "what great looks like" in a new working environment in terms of the attributes and behaviours that drive this business transformation. The company, which employs people in roles across the spectrum of professional services, was looking to increase their position in this market as a firm of choice for a specific function with their clients and wanted to achieve this starting with their own people in this newly redefined space.

The Challenge

Changing work environments led the company to undertake a strategic shift in their Audit function, which fundamentally impacted the way they operate internally and with clients. As client interactions are moving to a much more advisory capacity, with more emphasis on bringing insight to clients and challenging them on their current processes.

The changes for the company also impacted internal internal interactions, as significant parts of the Audit function were now undertaken offsite in shared service centers, with the intent to free up Auditors to spend more time with clients. What this meant was that individuals needed to be comfortable managing and communicating with virtual teams. It was acknowledged that overall the complexities and demands of running Audit processes successfully would significantly increase in the future. This was the companies chance to be able to define what the "Auditor of the future" looked like at all levels of seniority.

The Solution

Alexander Mann Solutions worked in partnership with key business and HR stakeholders to define and map out the key attributes that underpin successful performance in the future. A series of workshops with key senior leadership allowed us to capture and define these attributes across all levels of the company in terms of intellectual abilities, values, drivers and behaviours. This was supported by in-depth profiling of high performers - defined as individuals already displaying these attributes and behavious. The work Alexander Mann Solutions carried out also allowed us to give the client a high level gap analysis of their existing population. The findings included a new assessment framework which helped form the basis for a range of people initiatives, including recruitment and development.

The Result

The company utilized this new assessment framework in all their "early in careers" programmes, spanning 1,500 hires across four different schemes (full time graduates, school leavers, scholars and summer placements). This meant firstly that the "what great looks like" work was undertaken in all other service lines, beyond the Audit function, at Associate level to ensure we captured any differences or nuances between these business areas. The findings were used t ore-design the end-to-end selection process, allowing the client to move away from a competency-based assessment to a much wider, holistic assessment of future talent, capturing areas of potential such as critical thinking and hunger to learn.

The re-design included introducing a "balanced scorecard" approach which allowed the company to relax their academic entry criteria, thereby widening their talent pool without "dropping their standards." Interviewers were retained in a different, more agile and conversational way of interviewing, moving away from "rehearsed" competency-answers on to assessing value fit and behavioural strengths.

These changes were rolled out in the summer / autumn of 2014, and whilst initial feedback from candidates and hiring managers is positive, the true impact of the changes will only be visible in the next 12-24 months.

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