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Measuring Managerial competence


Hi there I have been given a large project for 2010, which requires me to put in place some sort of framework to measure the competence, knowledge and capability of managers across our organisation. Whatever gets implemented has to meet the following criteria: i) It has to be practical and not too time consuming to implement - we don't have the resources to spend days with each manager observing them at work. ii) It should not simply be a "self appraisal" system iii) It should be as rounded and objective as possible. Can anyone give me any suggestions on ways this could be achieved, or any reading/books that might help me get started? Thank you very much for your help.

6 Responses

  1. Measuring managerial competence, knowledge and capability

    The obvious route to go is to use multisource feedback to gain the views and experiences of those individuals who work or for the manager, or who are the cutomer of that manager’s services.

    Ideally you would use on-line tools, and make the questionnaire very short/succinct to minimise the time element of providing feedback.

    The tool that you use will need to have the facility to produce management reports so that the data can be used in meaningful ways by you: for example:

    – producing training needs analyses

    – identifying skill levels of managers so that you can use it for project assignments/secondments

    Similarly, you would ideally use the feedback about managers for their own personal and professional development, with practical tools/ideas about things that they can do to raise their game.

    You should also beware of a "one questionnaire fits all" approach. You’ll undoubtedly have slightly different questionnaires for different levels in your management structure  as there are different demands between, say, a front line manager and asenior manager. You may also want a different survey questionnaire for professional specialists who are acting more in an internal consultancy role, rather than business management (e.g. marketing, IT, HR. PR, Corporate Legal Services and maybe even Finance).

    I haven’t come across any reading materials that I can point you towards.

    If you’d like a chat about the approach, I’d be happy to share experiences over the phone and show you some examples. I’m contactable at [email protected]. I do lots of work with NHS hospitals, where this approach is used with Consultants. A survey will typically take 5-10 minutes to complete on line. I’ve also used this with commercial organisations.

    Good luck.


  2. sorry but…
    hi helbels
    sorry not to answer the question but there are two questions that I’d want to have very detailed answers to before I embarked on this “project” (you may have them already in which case please ignore me!)
    1. Why? What end is the product going to be used for?> knowing this will provide some answers for you.
    2. Who defines “good” and what is their definition?> “Good” could mean anything from “does as told”, to “always hits financial targets” to “runs a happy ship, successful in objectives with high staff morale and low turnover”

    I hope this helps

  3. To answer your question…
    Hi Rus

    The reason this is happening is:

    1) The business is shortly entering into a new 10 year strategy. There is a sense that we need to measure management competence & skills now, before we start, so we can try to see if they are equipped to handle the new challenges that lie ahead, and if not, put in place programmes or solutions that can bridge those gaps.

    2) We have competency frameworks in place that would help measure what “good” looks like (though based on the next comment, some people would disagree with their use!)


  4. Competency levelling

    Hi Helbels,

    Without knowing your organisation it is difficult to give a specific answer, but with the assumption that you know your organisation and will therefore ignore the answer if it is not relevant I’ll throw my two penneth in

    It may well be worth starting the project with a piece of work to both level the competencies (eg manager, senior manager, director) and to grade the behaviours within the competencies in to developing manager, good manager, excellent manager. This could be done in focus groups using people around the business or by a working party, or worst case scenario by you on your own.

    I would then identify what each manager role needs to know and do, may be that your job descriptions have this information already or it may be that you have to work with the business to identify some knowledge criteria for each role.

    This information would form the basis of the assessment and their are a number of ways in which you could then assess management capability

    Management reviews using the knowledge criteria and the competencies, to get around inexperienced managers not appraising accurately you could then hold sessions where each group of managers is discussed at the higher level (eg the capability of Finance Managers as identified at their review is discussed by Senior Finance Managers, Senior Marketing Managers, Senior HR Managers for example)

    Tailored 360 degree feedback

    Facilitated discussion groups in each area of the business about each individual

    Assessment centres, often mistakenly seen to be a huge time consuming piece of work but depending on numbers in your organisation can be less time consuming than some of the other solutions

    As I said at the beginning, it may be that this answer is not relevant but hopefully some of it has been of some use.



    Regards, Andrew


  5. Competency Framework

    Hi There,

    I’m currently working on my MBA and have a unit which is relevant to competency frameworks. As I see it to date, you have a choice of either a British or Amercian approach? As Training Zone is British, I’m sure your approach will be modelled that way. I recommend reading Pedlar, Burgoyne, and Boydell (2001). The PBB model was written by by British authors however adopts a US competency based approach. It favours the identification of skills, knowledge, and attributes and then  identifies effective managemenet practice as being learned and developed through training and ongoing development. It is interesting….

    Good luck.

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