How to conduct post-deal leadership evaluation

Ott Niggulis

2021 was a record-breaking year for private equity. The average deal size reached $1 billion for the first time ever, and the total global deal value reached the magical one trillion dollars, totalling $1.1 trillion for the year 2021.

Now the pressure is on the acquired companies as they have three to five years to achieve the ambitious targets given to them by their new owners.

To achieve these ambitious targets, one of the first steps is understanding if the current leadership team and the overall talent strategy is up to the task, usually through some type of leadership evaluation or assessment. 

When done right, leadership evaluation has the potential to be one of the most important steps in onboarding a new portfolio company. This article takes a look at a typical process and the ways that it can be improved.

The current practice is too slow

A typical leadership evaluation involves individual team members taking some type of psychological test(s) and, typically, a detailed interview with a leadership assessment professional.

The results of these assessments usually come in a PDF. To get any valuable data out of it, the assessment professionals have to process the data manually and rewrite the reports into an actually useful form.

Assessment professionals are doing great work, but they are being held back by cumbersome and a bit outdated solutions. This wastes precious time that business leaders in a fast-paced environment of a PE/VC-backed business don’t have. 

The results of these assessments usually come in a PDF. To get any valuable data out of it, the assessment professionals have to process the data manually and rewrite the reports into an actually useful form.

Another aspect that many of these assessments overlook is the team. Transforming a business post-deal is a team effort. Having a clear overview of the team as a whole is therefore critical. Only evaluating each leadership team member individually does not give the needed insight.

Wisnio playbook for team evaluation

At Wisnio, we use a process that achieves the desired result using an interactive platform.

The individual evaluation takes just 25 minutes to complete, which, in our experience, provides a good balance of robustness of the insight and the time it takes for business leaders to complete. That’s a fraction of the time it usually takes to go through a leadership evaluation process.

The playbook for onboarding a new team consists of four steps:

  • Step I - Agree on key objectives

  • Step II - Review the Team Profile

  • Step III - Identify key strengths and potential gaps

  • Step IV - Agree on action items to leverage strengths and bridge the gaps

“Wisnio is simple to use and attractive. It’s not a PDF profile or a report - it’s an engaging platform that people can use to learn more about themselves and the team.”

Tim Bright - Partner, OneWorld Consulting

Step I - Agree on key objectives

The Wisnio playbook starts by aligning all stakeholders on the three key objectives of the business. All levels of leadership must be aligned with these objectives and have a clear understanding of how their functional area is supporting the broader objectives and strategic goals.

These objectives will form the basis for further team analysis and inform the team of any changes that need to be made.

All teams on the Wisnio platform have access to team development tools. That includes Goal Alignment. Simply invite all team members to the platform and start a new goal alignment session. 

Goal alignment tool example - Wisnio toolkit.gif
Screenshot from Wisnio goal alignment tool

Step II - Review the Team Profile 

At Wisnio, we use a combination of behavioural science and machine learning to bring data to understand team dynamics, the collective strengths of the team, and the unique role and contribution of each team member. 

We use online assessments based on proven academic frameworks, which have demonstrated high accuracy and strong predictive power in various settings and cultures. 

"We have worked together enough time to understand who is who, but Wisnio Profiles help us to better accept and understand each other's strengths and areas where we complement each other."

Margus Uudam - Founding Partner, Karma Ventures

These data are then used to compile Personal and Team Profiles, which give actionable data on a team and personal level and highlight team values, personality, and competencies. The total time commitment per person for the online assessments is 20 - 25 minutes.

Example Wisnio Team Profile.gif
Example Wisnio Team Profile

All Wisnio Profiles are interactive and automatically compiled on the platform. There are no lengthy PDF documents that you need to process and/or rewrite manually. It’s all done by the platform.

Step III - Identify key strengths and potential gaps

The next step is understanding the fit between the agreed key objectives and team capabilities based on assessment results.

During this step, a consultant will go through the Team Profile together with the team to understand if the team has the needed competencies and other characteristics needed to achieve the previously set key objectives.

For that, the Wisnio platform has a built-in Insights section and commenting functionality to highlight areas that need attention and could be improved.

Example competency map of a team on the Wisnio platform.png

Step IV - Agree on action items to leverage strengths and bridge the gaps

Once the areas that need attention are agreed upon, there are two paths forward. You can either try to bridge the gaps via leadership development and make personalised learning and development plans for individual members or create Success Profiles for hiring.

Think of Success Profiles as position-based maps. They include an overview of the needed skills, competencies, and prior experiences to succeed in that exact role in a particular company.

It’s a blueprint and candidate evaluation tool to be used throughout the hiring process, from identifying suitable candidates (internal and external) to interviewing and scoring candidates to ultimately making the hiring decisions. It’s a tool that accelerates hiring and is therefore essential.

Success Profiles are a blueprint and candidate evaluation tool to be used throughout the hiring process, from identifying suitable candidates (internal and external) to interviewing and scoring candidates to ultimately making the hiring decisions. 

Often it’s not a question of choosing one or the other, but rather you bridge gaps with personalised L&D plans whenever possible and hire new people when training isn’t enough.

You can learn more about succession planning and Success Profiles in our Guide to business succession planning.

Looking to kick-start your hiring? Check out our free Hiring Templates!

Why this matters

In a post-deal environment, time is of the essence. A typical hold period is around five years, and it takes 3-6 months to fill a C-level position. Plus, the new leader takes another 6-12 months to get to peak performance. Therefore, getting an accurate understanding of the team's exact requirements immediately post-investment is essential. 

With Wisnio, the value creation team can get a robust overview of the most important characteristics of the leadership team in less than 30 minutes.

This means that business leaders, together with the value creation team, can start the discussion around their talent strategy immediately and do not need to wait for weeks for the traditional leadership evaluation process to finish.

“The Wisnio analysis was very helpful in getting a more holistic understanding on who is bringing what to the team and whom to approach which a certain topic or another. It’s like a cheat sheet for teamwork.”

Christoph Grandpierre - Managing Partner, Metakomm

Wisnio Profiles are interactive and actionable, compiled by the platform, with individual and team evaluation results available immediately after taking the tests. This means no extra work for leadership consultants. It's a collaborative process involving all stakeholders that remains relevant throughout the hold period.

Find out how your team can start using the Wisnio playbook by booking a meeting with us or signing up for a free account!

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