About Company

  • The world’s leading HR solutions partners
  • Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland
  • Fortune Global 500 company
  • Revenue €23.7bn annually (2017)


To fine-tune leader development and increase the number and success of internal hires, the Adecco Group implemented a context-based approach to leadership assessment.

The Challenge

The Adecco Group employs diverse and talented people who contribute to its purpose of making the future work for everyone. Leaders drive the Adecco Group’s vision forward, and it is important for the organisation to have the right approach to identifying and developing its leaders. Through strengthening its own processes, the Adecco Group can better advise and pass on its expertise to clients.

The Adecco Group’s HR and business leaders were experiencing a mismatch between those identified as “right” for a role through the formal planning process, and those who the decision-makers felt were best suited.

 “Like most other companies, we had a formal talent review process in which we looked at people’s capabilities, strengths and gaps;” explains Courtney Abraham, Global Head of Talent Strategy and Development.  “But it was a paper exercise and we only did it for part of the organisation.  When it came to actually choosing someone for a position, it became totally subjective; it was based on the leader’s intuition.”

The result was a higher number of external leader hires than the organisation felt comfortable with.

“We tended to look at the next person in the hierarchy and if we didn’t think he or she was ready, we made an outside hire.  We knew we needed to change this around by identifying and developing leaders earlier than we were, to reduce the higher risk associated with hiring from outside,” continues Courtney.



  • Building and developing a pipeline of leaders ready for the challenges ahead

The Solution

In today’s fast-paced world of work with greater complexity and a wider scope of leader responsibilities, the Adecco Group sought out a different and more tailored approach.

The Adecco Group turned to us for a way to enhance its Senior Management Development Programme. Through its contextual lens, our Leader Edge Solution was implemented for 100 senior managers in North America, to fine-tune individual development plans to the specific context in which the leaders would operating.

We did this by mapping the Adecco Group leadership competency model to the 27 challenges that form the foundation of the Leader Edge Solution, followed with an assessment of leader capability to perform against these challenges using the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) together with an experience inventory.

“The most critical part of the new system is that it’s contextual. We looked at the six most important challenges that a leader will face in a new role and compared them to candidates’ skills and competencies, motivations and runways. We were then able to focus on what was needed for a successful transition and tailor development accordingly,” Courtney continues. “We are now developing our people earlier in the process and have a better sense of the gaps in their skills compared with the challenges they will face in their new roles, so we can use onboarding and development to actively coach and support them.”

The Results

This new context-based approach has led to greater confidence in mobilizing and promoting internal talent.

“For global leadership openings, we are now always looking internally first. We now have much more precise data about our people and whether they are likely to succeed in a particular set of circumstances. We have a process where we are able to leverage that data and use it to engage in a dialogue with our internal candidates; if they’ve been identified in a succession plan for the role, we can look at whether their career aspirations align and feel more confident about their mobility and readiness.”

Importantly, Courtney adds that this benefits not only internal talent but the overall business. “Hiring from outside is a bigger risk because we don’t have as much data about the candidates.  We’ve also found that our internal hires are much more likely to be successful and to have early wins because they understand the business, the people and the competitive landscape.”

The success looks set to continue. The Adecco Group is now using this new approach with more parts of its businesses. It is introducing context-focused assessment to identify talent to participate in next year’s global leadership programs in France, Switzerland, and Singapore.


  • Assessing leaders with a context-specific lens
  • Reduced risk with more internal leadership hires

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