Psychometric testing and individual presentations

Academy helps Target to deliver top talent of tomorrow

First eight employees emerge from rigorous selection process

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G rueling interviews, psychometric testing, and individual presentations to senior

executives on a topic completely unrelated to the business formed part of a rigorous

selection process that put eight employees of UK delivery company Target Express

in the fast lane for career development.

The 1,800-employee company set up the Target Academy last year (2006) to acknowledge

the needs of talented employees and maximize their potential in the organization. The idea

originated from the Target Express board of directors, but it was the company’s internal

human-resources team that pulled the individual suggestions together to create the Target

Academy structure.

Ken Johnson, Target Express HR director, explained: ‘‘We wanted to create a training

scheme that highlighted the talents of employees who have the dedication and ambition to

succeed at a higher level in the company. As well as rewarding their performance, we

wanted to help them to progress their careers within the business.’’

How the ‘‘class of 2006’’ was chosen

‘‘We had to design a fairly rigorous selection process, which ranged from initial nominations

by line managers to grueling interviews, psychometric testing and individual presentations.

We were very pleased and impressed with the caliber of all the candidates, which made the

final decisions very difficult.’’

Line managers nominated potential candidates who had demonstrated excellence in their

specific area of the business, encompassing sales, operations and support services. The

final eight members of the ‘‘class of 2006’’ were selected by the three sponsor directors

involved in the academy – Ken Johnson, sales and marketing director Stuart Godman, and

operations director Phil Duckworth.

The comprehensive interview process incorporated psychometric and development testing

and an individual presentation performed on a subject unrelated to the business, which was

unfamiliar to candidates beforehand. According to Ken Johnson, the presentation element

gave the sponsor directors a valuable opportunity to see the nominees tested outside their

comfort zone.

‘‘The multi-faceted selection process we developed was entirely necessary because the

stakes were so high for the candidates,’’ he explained. ‘‘The process had to be tough so that

we could be confident that we had selected the right people to be members of the inaugural

Target Academy.’’

From the candidates’ perspective, the selection process was challenging and exhilarating in

equal measure. Alison Harrop, one of the chosen academy members, recalled: ‘‘The whole

DOI 10.1108/09670730710735753 VOL. 15 NO. 2 2007, pp. 33-35, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0967-0734 j HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT INTERNATIONAL DIGEST j PAGE 33



selection process was a testing experience for me and all the nominees, especially when we

had to present to the senior management on an unfamiliar topic. We all worked really hard for

the opportunity to benefit from the scheme, and I think it brought out the best in all of us.

‘‘I was delighted even to be nominated and recognized by the management as a potential

member of the Target Academy; to be finally selected was a real honor. I think it is extremely

commendable for a company to invest such quality time in its employees’ development

through programs like this, and I am proud to be part of it.’’

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