Why prioritise external board assessments?

Several boards carry out an annual self-evaluation, or an online quantitative evaluation, every three years based on the need to express and show good and ethical board behaviour. However, this is not the way forward if you ask Richard Leblanc, researcher at York University in the journal "The Corporate Board". He  expresses that these simplified methods give an imperfect picture of the Board's work and efforts. Just as no one wants to assess a company simply on the basis of their accounts, one should not assess a Board of Directors based only on a quantified and outdated approach. If this method continues, Board evaluation can end up being a ritual tribal dance that adds no particular value to the company.

What should you pay attention to?

Board evaluations must not function as a tick in the compliance form. When basing your evaluation data from members' individual and biased understanding of what good board work is, you are taking the easy way out. One can quickly fall into a trap where the results become bland and the subsequent dialogue ends in a round of self-praise and self-glorification.

At Friisberg & Partners International, we specialize in Board Assessments. We go in-depth with a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods in the form of both online surveys, physical interviews and assessments. The data is used to uncover elements such as the Board's experience, their ability to collaborate & challenge each other and the management, collective knowledge and their professional competences. Bases on this data, the company's activities and the associated risks are analyzed along with the Board's work.

As an extra element in creating a truthful and in-depth evaluation, Friisberg & Partners Denmark recommends that the Management assesses the Board in addition to the Board's own self-assessment. Based on the full evaluation and the subsequent reporting, the Board has the opportunity to uncover the potential to become a better strategic player that matches and supports the Executive Board.

Overall, it is absolutely central to the utilization of the potential in an evaluation that the focus is not only on documenting the results achieved, but is seen as a resource for developing the Board; both in relation to current changes or future routines, structural conditions & long term knowledge building.

Why Board evaluations are important

At Friisberg & Partners International, there is broad agreement that there is a correlation between external Board assessments and improved management quality. Board evaluations contribute to identifying strengths and weaknesses in the Board's functioning, which makes it possible to improve decision-making processes and strategic management. Furthermore, the evaluations contribute to an objective assessment of the Board's composition, working methods and efficiency. It promotes open dialogue and reflection on the Board's performance, which contributes to higher professional accountability.

As an additions service offering, Friisberg & Partners includes a targeted development and action plan as a part of our final report.  This can lead to higher levels of engagement and performance.


A successful recruitment process enables growth – even in the middle of a prolonged crisis

The arrival of COVID-19 in Finland transformed the economy and working life, to say the least. Like many service businesses, Friisberg Finland was forced to face facts in March 2020: the uncertain situation in Finland and around the world has increased caution for headhunting customers and candidates.

The fact is, however, that the need for competent professionals still exists; if we wish to ensure continued growth and move on from the crisis, we need the right people in the right places.

COVID-19 affected recruitment and headhunting processes

What has changed in the recruitment of key personnel over the past 10 months?

Change 1:

Successful recruitment is ensured through psychological aptitude tests and personality assessments.

More and more customers want the option of two top candidates to choose from instead of one at the end of the headhunting process with both candidates tested using psychological personality and aptitude assessments and their references checked. Why? Especially in these circumstances, customers want to ensure that they will be able to hire one of the two best candidates as quickly as possible. A diverse psychological personality assessment tailored for the position in question provides information on the top candidates’ competence but also on what motivates them and how they will fit into the culture of the business.

Change 2:

Candidates for key personnel need security and continuity.

The COVID-19 situation has made candidates more security-oriented; people are looking for a good, safe job and a guaranteed income.

There are risks involved in transitioning to a new position in a new company. Due to the crisis, businesses have seen an increase in refusals at the end of their own recruitment processes, especially if the process has been prolonged.

Change 3:

Successful recruitment is still the sum of many parts.

If the company is well-known and has a positive employer image and interesting operations, it most likely will not suffer from a lack of candidates, even in trying times. A relatively unknown company with a less appealing reputation or employer image, however, may not be able to attract the most sought-after individuals on its own.

The security offered by the employer affects the candidates’ choices

Uncertain times affect the choices made by candidates. That is why hiring companies must pay attention to the candidates’ sense of security and offer them support in changing circumstances. The employer image built by the recruitment processes should also be kept in mind.

As positions and searches become international, finding the best candidate beyond the borders of your own country is becoming increasingly common.

The best candidate may be a returning migrant with a spouse, in which case the spouse’s career opportunities will influence the candidate’s decision on switching jobs and returning to their native country. Family relocation support and levelling the threshold of making a transition are currently of particular importance.

Participating in a headhunting process and assessing aptitude should also create value for the candidate.

Regardless of whether the process results in employment, the best type of recruitment process supports a positive employer image by offering the candidate personal feedback from the headhunter. The feedback should cover an analysis of the candidate’s interviews and a report on the aptitude assessment.

Such elements leave a positive image of the hiring company while supporting the professional development of the candidate.

How to ensure a successful recruitment process?         

A successful recruitment process has an efficient schedule and open communications and does not involve unpleasant surprises at the last minute.

These three tips enable you to ensure the best recruitment results, hold on to the best candidates and allow the key employee to start their work according to schedule:

  1. Do not delay in your recruitment decisions. Choose the top candidates quickly after interviewing the main candidates. If the decision-making process is slow, the candidate may start to feel like the company is not interested in them and that changing jobs might be a mistake – or that they might be able to negotiate better terms for their current position.
  2. Be open about the steps in the recruitment process. Keep both of your top candidates up to date about the process and ready for further discussion. Do not expect the candidates to simply wait patiently for your decisions.
  3. Keep your word in the agreement negotiations. Once you have discussed the candidate’s salary expectations and start date, you should not introduce any unpleasant surprises when negotiating their agreement.

An experienced headhunting partner will help you in uncertain times

In the middle of a crisis, such as COVID-19, an experienced headhunting partner can help you avoid any pitfalls and hold on to your candidates throughout the process.

Despite the pandemic, Friisberg Finland has seen excellent success in its headhunting processes; our customer and candidate experiences are at a very high level. Last year (2020), the NPS measurement of our customers’ and candidates’ satisfaction and their willingness to recommend our services to others was +77 among customers and +87 among candidates.

Mika Rossi


Over the last five years we have further developed our Evidence-based Personnel Diagnostics (EPD) capabilities.

EPD is based on the latest and long-standing scientific findings in brain research, psychology and neuroscience. In structured interviews with narrative elements, we focus not only on personality and competencies, but above all on the predictors and potential for career success.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear that leaders with strong risk-taking skills, resilience, integrity, perseverance, passion, and empathy have been more successful in leading their companies and employees through the crisis. These competencies and potentials will also be necessary in the future to actively shape the digitalization of the economy, to question business models, and to change the management of employees working remotely, among other things.

With EPD we support owner and family managed companies, international corporations and portfolio companies of private equity firms in finding and selecting suitable and high-performing executives. Together we build on the company's success.

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