Terra Nova training and development

Resources: Case Studies


Motorola - Semiconductor Products MOSS 9

TASK: To develop a more rigorous method of internal selection and recruitment.


Motorola invested considerable time in developing management competencies based on skills, knowledge and behaviours. This prompted a realisation that identifying leaders who positively reflected the competencies was too important to rely on one persons opinion. Motorola therefore wanted to develop a process that was seen to be rigorous, fair and transparent.

The Process:

It was appreciated that the competencies were too complex and lacked the humanity necessary for use in an Assessment Centre. The challenge was therefore to simplify the competencies and to breath life into them. Discussions took place to clarify the kind of working environment that the competencies were designed to encourage. In addition, assessor training devoted particular attention to spotting the more subtle behaviours that encourage the preferred work environment.

The Assessment process involved a series of indoor and outdoor practical team tasks, each with a nominated leader and non-participant observer, whose feedback at the end of the task was also assessed. Rather than being treated as tablets of stone, the Assessment Centre scores were used as a basis for discussion from which a short list of candidates for interview was agreed. The advantage of this process is that if someone with a lower score is short listed, there are clear and openly expressed reasons for doing so, thus reinforcing transparency.

All those who applied for the positions were invited to attend an Assessment Centre. While this strategy was questioned at the time, it proved to have many benefits. For example, the greater number and diversity of experience of the candidates stimulated a lively debate among the assessor group, thus encouraging greater rigour and objectivity. It also created a wider pool of talent for future promotion opportunities. The high quality feedback that was provided for all candidates as a result of the Assessment Centre proved to be particularly beneficial to unsuccessful candidates, all of whom were subsequently promoted.

The Assessment Centres stimulated a series of leadership programmes for new managers. These involved a three day residential Development Centre with an emphasis on personal feedback plus Action Learning groups to support the implementation of Action Plans back in the work place.


  • Greater respect for the promotion process
  • Increased awareness of the qualities needed of Section Managers
  • All candidates enjoyed their Assessment Centre and found it worthwhile
  • Stimulated self-development
  • Created a pool of talent for succession planning
  • All candidates have since been promoted

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