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How to Assess & Improve Your Board’s Performance (Part 2 – A Board That Pulls in the Same Direction)

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

In the second part of my discussion about the performing Board I want to discuss the activities of dealing with initial change.

Earlier this month I published the first part of this discussion which identified how boards can make decision that causes minimal disruption and encourages a culture that encourages and motivates the whole organisation.

It’s important that the Board is a mixture of complimentary behaviours, management styles and finally expertise. A diverse team held together by agreed values is the most effective one to have.

One where honest debate is encouraged and programmes and actions collectively agreed and then implemented. Most importantly this Board must have the ability to think strategically and be agile enough to make reasoned tactical decisions.

It’s probably a utopian view, which rarely happens all of the time, but we have all at some time or another been working within a team that is constantly moving forward and everyone is pulling together.


board room assessment is an essential part to improving your boards performance


Constructing A Board That Pulls In The Same Direction

Putting a Board that can work in this way together requires a methodical approach. An assessment of the Board both in Executive and Non-Executive functions should be undertaken to avoid an ad-hoc approach that may have to be repeated at another date with all of the problems that that entails.

Perhaps the first thing to recognise is that not all of the current incumbents will be the right people for the future. It’s important not to personalise this as nearly all people who may not be right for one team can be the ideal fit with another.

That’s why it’s important when the Business Leaders have recognised this, that those no longer part of the company’s future are helped with structured programmes such as outplacement to get them on the correct career path. So many businesses forget this or reluctantly agree as part of a settlement. It’s actually a sound investment as it protects the reputation of the business and may even create business opportunities at a later date.

Easing The Changes Into The Boardroom

One problem that often occurs is that more than one person on the executive team needs to be replaced. Many Chairmen and NEDs take the “easy” option of doing this in a sequential manner saying “so and so can leave now but we need to wait six months before we can make any other changes so as not to disrupt the business”.

Unsurprisingly this usually doesn’t help things at all as the whole executive team remains unsettled knowing that further changes are inevitably in the pipeline. Strategic initiatives are put on hold and of course underperforming executives remain in situ. A radical solution would be being honest and up front with executives and engage with them in the process. Rather than suddenly exiting them from the business, work in a “grown up” way for them to work out a programmed notice period to help with continuity and give them time and help to find their next position or career choice. Not only is there less risk with this option it also is seen as more humane and respectful and reduces the “collateral damage” caused to other employees and customers.

By exiting executives over a long time period there’s also a great opportunity to get a “handover” to the new executive and phase the outgoing executives commitment out over a period of time so as not to leave a continuity gap. In my next article I will discuss how to get the right fit and build a team dynamic that creates a performing Board.

photo credit: JasonParis cc

David Seall - Chairmen of the Board of Practice for Ramsey Hall

David Seall is well known to many businesses across London and the South East as an Independent Director and Chartered Engineer specialising in the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors. David worked for many years in the Aerospace and Defence industry and was Chief Executive of the Engineering Employers Federation for London and the South East (EEF South) for over 10 years, working with hundreds of companies.


Read more about how Ramsey hall can improve the performance of your boards


How to Assess & Improve Your Board’s Performance

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

I read recently a quote that stated “people don’t leave organisations they leave bad bosses”, well perhaps that’s not true for all cases but it must hold water for a fair proportion of them.

At least it may be a reason that employees start looking for alternative employment. It may be that the employee doesn’t like their line manager’s style or probably they have a problem with the leadership of the organisation.

Disruptive Decision Making

It’s been proven that most people exhibit the symptoms of stress when they feel they have no control over their daily or working lives. Thus, although business leaders often suffer from stress or burn out, it’s most often found in the lower tiers of the organisation. We’ve all seen or even been party to decisions that seem quite logical or sensible in the Boardroom that then cause distress and chaos when introduced within the company. So it’s very important that the leadership of an organisation is seen to be doing the right things and to be working together as a team. Nothing causes more damage than disunity and lack of confidence within the leadership team. That includes both executives AND non-executive functions.

discover about how to increase your Board's performance whilst sustaining a company culture that drives your organisation forward


Leading The Organisation Forward

It’s essential that the Chairman and Chief Executive, or business owner in a private business, create and nurture a team that can take the business forward or indeed manage successfully in tough times. Touching upon that, it’s also important to have the right people in the right place during the various stages of the economic cycle. Particularly in a private business it’s imperative the owner doesn’t recruit in their own image or exhibit behaviours that discourage direct reports from challenging them. Part of this is valuing diversity within the management team.

It’s still appalling how few women take their rightful place on the Board particularly in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. It’s also important that the team has created a business strategy that all colleagues can buy into and understand what they have to do to make it happen. It’s also important that the leadership agree a set of values to underpin the behaviours they want the organisation to stand for and, crucially, they are seen to live and breathe those values in everything they do.

The second part of this discussion  focuses on how a boardroom can deal with change to prevent as little disruption within the organisation as possible.

photo credit: Tyler Merbler cc

David Seall - Chairmen of the Board of Practice for Ramsey Hall

David Seall is well known to many businesses across London and the South East as an Independent Director and Chartered Engineer specialising in the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors. David worked for many years in the Aerospace and Defence industry and was Chief Executive of the Engineering Employers Federation for London and the South East (EEF South) for over 10 years, working with hundreds of companies.


Read more about how Ramsey hall can improve the performance of your boards


How to Reduce the Risk of Future Failure by Using Effective Succession Planning

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

When succession planning it is important to choose a successor that fits well within the organisationThe recent debacle at Manchester United shows how important the need for succession planning is. The decision to allow Sir Alex Ferguson to anoint his “chosen one” successor, David Moyes in the role without a full and open recruitment process did not prove to be a success. Obviously there were other mitigating factors contributing to the failure but it does look from the outside that perhaps the wrong person was chosen.

Those with longer footballing memories will remember the debacle of Brian Clough’s forty four day tenure at Leeds Utd when he replaced Don Revie (who in turn was not an amazing success in the England job!). It was clear now that there was a colossal clash of cultures with Clough going to Elland Road, so just choosing the then most successful manager, to run the then most successful club wasn’t as obvious decision as it appeared at the time. In fact Leeds lost their position of dominance as a result.

So it’s clear that either handing succession planning to the current incumbent or just grabbing what you think is the best candidate out there without a considered approach is probably not the best idea.

How to Choose the Right Person to Succeed You

Interestingly most organisations don’t succession plan very well. This probably goes back to the fact that many don’t do thorough risk management. Within a process of evaluating risks the issue of what happens to key staff should loom large. The chance of this happening, the effect of it, plus the proposed solution and who is responsible for carrying it out is essential as part of the risk management process.

This risk management is essential both in owner managed “family” businesses and particularly charities, where all too often the Director of Chief Executive leaves and the Chair is left holding the baby after the notice period has been served and before a new incumbent can be found. This places even more pressure on the recruitment process and the temptation to “cut corners”. In a family business it’s key to be developing family members over a long period of time so that they can build up the knowledge and experience to be a success in the roles they and the owner would want them to do. It’s also essential that they are supported by the right cadre of senior staff to make their appointment a success.

Risk management should be part of the “Management Review” system that is built into the processes and procedures that determine the operation of the enterprise.

So the key to start with in succession planning must be to have evaluated the risks to the enterprise of key staff leaving and have a plan in place both temporary and long term to manage it. Both the Chair and The Chief Executive should discuss this at regular intervals to determine strategy.

When a key member of staff leaves it’s not always straightforward that the individual is replaced by a “clone”. It could be an opportunity to change the management structure or bring in someone with a different set of skills and approaches that will help develop the enterprise strategically. Aligning the recruitment to strategic direction is key. “Buggins’ turn” or promoting from within or grabbing someone quickly from outside will not do.

The 9 Keys to Effective Succession Planning

1.   Have key staff positions as an integral part of the risk management process

2.   Evaluate and quantify the risks of losing key staff

3.   Have a plan in place to deal with those risks that is in alignment with the strategy of the enterprise

4.   Structure times to regularly review the plan

5.   If it happens take the time and effort to manage the recruitment (or promotion) process properly

6.   Make sure that the definition of the role and the experience and personality of the person to do that role aligns with the strategy

7.   Use external help or opinion to test and evaluate your thoughts and approach

8.   Consider restructuring your team as part of the process. A person leaving can be an opportunity not only a threat.

9.   Make sure that the person recruited fits the dynamic of the team and the way you want the team to develop.


image via toddwshaffer

Read more about Succession Planning in our white paper which explains what organisations can do to help implement a plan.


Download our succession planning white paper


David Seall - Chairmen of the Board of Practice for Ramsey Hall

David Seall is well known to many businesses across London and the South East as an Independent Director and Chartered Engineer specialising in the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors. David worked for many years in the Aerospace and Defence industry and was Chief Executive of the Engineering Employers Federation for London and the South East (EEF South) for over 10 years, working with hundreds of companies.

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How to compete in the “War on Talent” when Unemployment Rate is low

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

UK unemployment Rate & The War on Talent

A lack of people and a high demand for talent is not what any business wants to see; however this is happening as we speak to thousands of organisations everywhere. This is when most organisations realise that they really are only as good as their people, yet many do not invest the necessary resource that is needed in their recruitment, selection and assessment activities.

Being confident your candidates are capable

Our team has been asked by many clients to design recruitment processes which attract high-quality candidates, cost effectively and which minimise the risk of costly recruitment errors.  It is a demonstrable fact that when analysed using longitudinal validation studies, interviews alone lack recruitment reliability and validity.

By far the most effective methodology is to combine a panel interview approach with a range of objective online assessments such as Hogan or OPQ using both personality and ability tests.  This gives you an opportunity to look beyond the CV or application form to a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s potential and not just their past attainment.

Attracting scarce or in demand skills

Too often organisations are trying to cut recruitment costs assuming good recruitment is easy and just a commodity service.  The reality is that good recruitment will make or break your organisation. A good executive search consultant is not a recruitment agent; they do not sell you candidates.  Instead, they are highly qualified professionals who offer real advice around the role design, package to offer and they then provide an appropriate shortlist.  They are not “CV shufflers” but consulting experts.

A good executive search firm or ‘head hunter’ are able to locate candidates using every method possible so that a high quality shortlist is obtained.  They will also include any internal candidates in the process so that a benchmark may be established.

Often candidates may be located oversees so a good executive search firm will also have a global network, in our case INAC.


Using objective personality assessment such as Hogan or other established tools which may be supported by more in depth panel ability testing is vital. This may also be supported by further in depth ability testing as appropriate and best practice interviewing to ensure that the candidate chosen to fit the role is right for your organisation.

A critical activity and not an admin function

For critical hires organisations need to see recruitment as a ‘value added’ activity which can help build high performance through selective recruitment. Be aware of the “CV shufflers” and low end administrative recruiters who devalue the process.

Good selection practices are proven to help build business performance particularly when implemented in conjunction with other ‘people’ practices.

In summary

  • Use a variety of methods when vetting candidates through the selection stage
  • Benchmark candidates, throughout the search process
  • Use the right tools & people to get the shortlist that you want e.g. psychometric testing
  • Make sure you identify what skill set & personality you want to fill the role, pre selection
  • Don’t get “sold” by potential candidates, make sure they fit within your organisation and that you are happy with them


When it comes to helping you make the best recruitment or promotion decisions few organisations can match Ramsey Hall’s breath of expertise or experience.

We provide the following services:

  • Executive Search & Selection includes assessment with each short listed candidate.  Our global reach in complimented by our global network membership of INAC
  • Psychometric assessment carried out online or as part of an assessment level for all recruitment levels usually using SHL or Hogan tools and deployment decisions
  • Capability assessment and executive assessment for ‘in house’ recruitment and development decisions

If you would like any further information on any of the above why not call us on 023 8023 6944 or
020 7288 2444 or 016 1848 0048 for a chat.

Matthew Davis is a Chartered FCIPD and Chartered Marketer FCIM qualified HR/Human Capital consulting professional

Matthew Davis is a Chartered FCIPD and Chartered Marketer FCIM qualified HR/Human Capital consulting professional. Experienced in most aspects of resourcing, business psychology, performance management and organisational development consulting as well as team leadership and budgetary management.


Thanks to kevin dooley via photopin cc for the image

Ramsey Hall’s Weekly Round Up (9 May 2014)

Friday, May 9th, 2014

A car being manufactured

Here for you is a weekly round up of Talent Management and Human Resource related articles on the web including: news, blogs, advice, tips and more.

Industry News

Automotive sector enjoys popularity surge in the UK

As technology is advancing at such a fast rate, the automotive sector has had to accelerate innovation in order to keep up making it an attractive area to work in.

Growth markets are changing in the Consumer segment

Due to an increase in consumer confidence we are now seeing the light at the end of the very long tunnel that was the recession.

Interesting Articles

Why 85% of Employees are Ready to Leave

Retaining employees for your organisation is very important, not only to give you you the competitive edge but also to retain valuable skills and employee loyalty.

Six Differences Between Customer-Focused Companies and Operations-Focused Companies

Being customer focused as an organisation can bring you a lot of benefits, if you’re not there may be a lot you can learn to give you that edge in retaining your customers and growing your market?

Advice and Tips

Seven Ways to Give Better Performance Reviews

Do you know how to give a good performance review? For many employees this can be scary phrase that they can dread so it’s important that you make them as effective as possible.



Come back next week for more Human Resource and Talent management related content from around the web.

Did you find anything in the world of HR or Talent Management on the web? Comment with them below.

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What Manufacturing and Engineering Businesses Can Learn from the Service Sector

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The service sector has a lot to teach the manufacturing and engineering businesses

It’s been interesting for me over the last four years to see how my career has continuously intertwined with the service sector.

It’s surprising how often the deep divide is between manufacturing and service although I do see some companies bridging that divide.

Some enlightened manufacturers have realized that they can add value, and significant margin, by offering more services to their customers as opposed to just simply delivering the product.

Some have added through life support, some the ancillary supply of consumable materials. Others have cone the whole way and amortised the delivery and servicing of their products so that the customer pays for the product on a usage or “annuity” basis.

The key thing manufacturers can learn from service businesses is that most service companies deliver what is essentially a commodity service. Think of lawyers and accountants doing their daily work. The customer has a multitude of options and there’s little IP to differentiate anyone.

The service company frequently has to ask itself “why me?’ why would a customer choose me over my competitor? This creates an essential tension that makes a service company work harder to retain customers or to win new ones.

One often sees service companies looking at different delivery and pricing models, models that improve the customer experience.

I often see service companies attending events to learn from what’s going on in the real world and forge relationships that could benefit their business in the future, either by partnering or even acquisition. Service businesses seem more than happy to share business prospects and customers too if this adds value to their customer. The term “networking” is often overused and abused but many individuals in service companies have significant networks to hand which they can use to grow business or help their customers by referral. They realize that they must get out of the business as often as possible to be able to learn and to grow. This is often outside of “normal” working day.

In contrast some manufacturers seem unconcerned with what’s happening outside of their key relationships with customers or the daily machinations of producing products on time. I know from personal experience that life on the shop floor can be all consuming and it’s tough to find time to take opportunities outside.

In the end the businesses that are introspective will lose out to the enlightened ones that have embraced the approach used in the service sector and correspondingly have achieved greater and faster business growth.


What other industries do you think can learn from the service sector? Reply by commenting on this post below.

Make sure to follow Ramsey Hall on LinkedIn to discover how you get the best from your people

David Seall - Chairmen of the Board of Practice for Ramsey Hall

David Seall is well known to many businesses across London and the South East as an Independent Director and Chartered Engineer specialising in the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors. David worked for many years in the Aerospace and Defence industry and was Chief Executive of the Engineering Employers Federation for London and the South East (EEF South) for over 10 years, working with hundreds of companies.


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Ramsey Hall’s Weekly Round-up

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Talent Mismatch Costs UK companies More than £1bn

This is the first week of our weekly round-up of the most popular and important Talent Management and Human Resource related articles out there on the web including: news, articles and blogs, advice, tips and more.

Industry News

Talent mismatch costs UK companies more than £1bn

Businesses across the UK are losing out on millions of pounds due to employees’ inability to adapt and retain for new roles.

Interesting Articles

When a Family Business Should Look for an Unrelated CEO

Research Concordia University suggests that if a business that values innovation they are better off by looking outside the family for company leaders.

Top 4 Global Human Capital Trends 2014

A look at what shall be trending this year in the Human Capital Industry. Talent acquisition being the major player in how organisations will be operating.

Could Death of Internships Hurt Grads’ Careers?

The outlook of Internships does not look good. But will graduates still be able to get a decent career without them? Or will this be a good for them because they don’t have to work for free any more?

Advice and Tips

Five Mistakes Made in Integrated Talent Management: #4 – Failure to Regionalize

As organisations become globalised, it becomes harder to create an overall talent management strategy. This article explains how you can avoid this.


That’s it for now, come back next week for more human resource and Talent management related content from around the web.

Did you find any interesting industry related articles this week? Comment with them below!

Searching so you don’t have to. Follow Ramsey Hall On LinkedIn

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Improve Your Management and Organisational Performance with a Complimentary Capability Assessment

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Ramsey Hall’s Human Capital Consulting team is offering you a complimentary assessment to improve your management and organisational performance.

This will be achieved with the following process:

Improve Your Management and Organisational Performance

Step 1: Assess your organisation’s capability

Step 2: Measure your future potential

Step 3: Identify your organisation’s barriers to high performance

Step 4: Action the bespoke plan

This will leave you with a self-sustaining performance management system with real ‘bottom line’ benefits.

We are so confident that you would benefit from our advice that we would like to offer you a free one hour organisational capability assessment with a summary action plan.

Numerous studies have shown that performance really can be improved. In a recent study, 79% agreed that an assessment is really worthwhile and sustainable improvement has occurred after implementation.

This offer is available for only a limited time and ends, 30 April 2014.

With nothing to lose and everything to gain, call now to find out how your organisation can benefit from using Ramsey Hall’s expertise to increase organisational performance.

Call us now on 02380 236 944 to arrange your complimentary assessment that will improve your management and organisational performance

The New State Pension Age And What It Means For Employers

Friday, January 10th, 2014

In George Osborne’s latest autumn statement he announced that the national state pension age will be calculated using a new formula to keep pace with increasing life expectancy.

The New Pension Age And What That Means For Employers?

This means that anyone now in their 40s or below will be affected by the change. Some industries that are labour intensive now have to consider developing a strategy for the development of an ever increasingly aging workforce.

Others will say that it will encourage the retention of much needed skills in the workforce that are being lost due to the “baby boomer” generation (1945-1955) that have already started to retire.

So what does this actually mean for employers?

The combination of an already aging workforce and the loss of the “baby boomers” who are now retiring will result in a loss of skills across many industries. The result? Vital experience that could have been passed on to the next generation – lost.

Some organisations are not aware of these impending problems. If you do not have a long term strategy, now is the time to make one in order to keep ahead of competition; to keep your key talent and not squander the organisation’s invaluable insights.

Change the way you train, develop and engage.

The way many businesses train is focused on the early development stages after an employee enters the workforce; however there must be continual training throughout their whole working life cycle.

The training should adopt a targeted approach especially when tailored to the older person. Recent studies suggest that older workers are less inclined to participate in training because they feel that a lot of it is targeted more towards a younger audience. It’s like making a product for a teenager to use and targeting it at an older generation. It just doesn’t make sense.

The benefits from continual training are plentiful: from greater loyalty to increased motivation and of course productivity.

Managing health and well-being

As your workforce ages, you have to be prepared to give them flexibility in the workplace as well as being more sensitive to their health needs. If you do not then the likelihood of a dissatisfied, unmotivated employee who will possibly leave, then their skills will be lost.

Invariably employees enjoying good health care and flexible hours are more productive, more motivated and loyal.

What are the benefits of an aging workforce?

Contrary to perceived wisdom the benefits to having an aging workforce can be huge. An organisation that is attractive to older employees has major advantages because they will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge that will benefit your organisation.

Martin Wilde is a Marketing Executive with Ramsey Hall Ltd. Ramsey Hall is a highly respected and long-established boutique Talent Management Consultancy.

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How Best To Assess Candidates At The Selection Stage

Friday, December 20th, 2013

You’re responsible for the recruitment of the CEO of a multinational, multi billion dollar corporation. Headhunters have provided an excellent shortlist and you need to advise the main board on how to select the best candidate from the shortlist. You advise in-depth psychometric profiles on each candidate, backed up by detailed assessment of their numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning skills coupled to a senior management situational judgement assessment and finally the production of a comprehensive leadership report written by a fully British Psychological Society (BPS) qualified consultant. The cost of the whole process runs into tens of thousands of pounds but as the downside risk of getting it wrong runs, quite literally, into billions of pounds the cost is simply not an issue.

Now you’re responsible for recruitment of a first or second line manager, or even a shop floor supervisor. The downside risk of getting it wrong is significant but is not going to threaten the stability of the whole company. You’re aware that the process outlined above is best practice but equally you are aware that that sort of cost would be totally disproportionate to the seniority of the current position. So how best to assess proportionally.

The Power Of Psychometrics

The answer almost certainly lies in the use of online psychometrics. Basically psychometric tests fall into two categories: tests of maximum performance and tests of normative performance. Tests of maximum performance would typically include numerical, verbal or abstract reasoning. There are right or wrong answers and the score is definite and verifiable. Typically results in the these sorts of test are expressed in percentiles showing how the candidate performed against a defined population group with the higher the percentile the better the result. A more sophisticated form of a test of maximum performance is one of the modern situational judgement tests were the answers, whilst not mathematically or logically verifiable, are those agreed by a team accepted expert in the fields.

What Tests Are There To Choose From?

Tests of normative performance, and most personality profiles fall into this area, simply do not have right or wrong answers. The outcome is nearly always presented as a percentile figure against a stated norm group and no particular score is “better” than any other score. For any scale the ideal score for a particular position will vary depending on the nature of that particular position. There are quite literally hundreds of different personality tests available. Before using any of these tests the user really should check that it is BPS rated.

Perhaps the best-known of the top-end personality profiles are the SHL series and the Hogan series. Both have their comparative advantages and disadvantages, but both are hugely well documented and respected. Psychiatric profiles tend to focus on the difference between candidates. The other really well known psychometric assessment test is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The output of this places candidates into one of 16 potential “types” and is really all about indicating similarities. Myers Briggs is actually an ipsitive test (there is no direct read across from one person’s score to another person’s score). In general ipsitive tests are better use in teambuilding situations with the MBTI justifiably being the market leader. They are not however generally indicated as appropriate in a selection process.

The vital thing about these psychometrics is that they should be proportionate to the role that is to be filled. Virtually all psychometric tests are now available online and they are truly affordable. For a junior or entry position the cost can be just a few tens of pounds. As the position becomes more senior, and as the risk of getting it wrong therefore grows, more comprehensive testing is clearly indicated. Even so a really comprehensive package of online personality and ability tests can be put together at a cost that is in the low hundreds of pounds per candidate. With the cost of a failed hire normally being quoted as being three times the annual salary of the position, that really has to be money well spent.

One Final Piece of Advice…

Always ensure that the person advising you on which tests to use for the position is fully British Psychological Society qualified.
Click to find out more about psychometric testing.

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Phil Boyle - Director of Ramsey Hall

Phil Boyle is the managing director of Ramsey Hall Ltd. Ramsey Hall is a highly respected and long-established boutique Talent Management Consultancy. It is an SHL Enterprise Partner and amongst the most experience users of the Hogan series of tests in the UK. They can also offer the MBTI together with a wide range of other top end psychometric tests.

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