Reference assignments

Assessment Center/Selection

The Nordic region of an international IT group had decided to initiate a trainee program for the purpose of securing their long term provision of executive management. A decision was made to use a recruitment company for the identification of young talent. Billman Engquist & Company was entrusted with the task of running the Assessment Center for the final selection of trainees.

To recruit between five and ten trainees who fulfil the company’s leadership criteria, and who have the long term potential to take on strategically important leadership roles within the corporation.

Billman Engquist & Company designed and conducted a two day Assessment Center in Denmark together with the client for twenty trainee candidates from all over the Nordic region. The Assessment Center consisted of aptitude and personality tests, interviews and simulations. A number of the company’s managers participated as leaders or observers in the simulations. Billman Engquist & Company was responsible for the organisation, the tests and the simulations. The follow up work consisted of the analysis and integration of the information gathered by the country managers, personnel managers and consultants together. The Managing Director then made the recruitment decision in consultation with the consultants and participating managers in the Assessment Center.

Six trainees were recruited within the timeframe allowed. The Managing Director and the managers were satisfied that skilled people that highly fulfilled the recruiting criteria were selected. Managers were also very much looking forward to have the trainees join the company. Eight months after recruitment all six trainees are still employed and well rooted in the company. The future position of each trainee has been defined, communicated and accepted both by the trainees and their managers.

What were the success factors?
• Participation and structure
“That all the management was involved; country managers – business area managers and administrative managers – all participated in the selection and made the selection in a structured manner.”
• Flexibility and the whole picture
“We didn’t strictly follow the criteria; rather we looked at the whole picture based on hard and soft values.”
• Faith in the consultants
“One of the consultants had worked with the company previously, knew the corporate culture and had experience of trainee selection and the trainee program, we felt confident in both of them.”
• Lessons
“We learned that it is not dangerous to bring together competing candidates, an excellent atmosphere was built up in the group during the Assessment Center days.”


A 39 year-old female manager at an IT company contacted us on the encouragement of her superior as she found herself under psychological stress.
During the first counselling session she spoke of the pressure she felt for a long time both at work and at home. Her immediate superior was very pleased with her work but worried about her health; she worked too much, was often irritable and had frequent fits of rage. Furthermore there were many questions and therefore great uncertainty about the future, if she was in the right job, if she should change and if so to what. The client had obstructive negative thoughts – including thoughts of suicide – that affected her at work and at home.

The client formulated her goal as a desire to be better able to handle her work and private life, as well as the irritation and anger she felt. She also wanted to form a clearer picture of what she wanted to do in the future without feeling fear and doubt.

The client and the consultant agreed to work together for a series of ten one hour sessions.

“Through these dialogues I have gained tools that will enable me to better control both myself and my situation. I can break the vicious circle much more quickly now and the ability to remove myself from negative speculation about the future has been the greatest benefit to arise from all of this. The goal for the future no longer feels so important; the present goes quite a long way in itself and I really enjoy my work. Those earlier thoughts of suicide which I experienced almost daily are almost a thing of the past; they do crop up occasionally but I can rid myself of them more easily now. I feel like another person, I am better able to see how others feel, I am more sensitive to the needs of others and I am more aware of what is happening to them. The most surprising result is that I now sleep much better at night and that I am able to affect my sleeping. It is almost embarrassing to note that one so often gets wrapped up in events that are not real even if one perceives them that way. It sounds almost too good to be true but I am no longer afraid to fail.”

What were the success factors?
“The appraisal and the conscientious analysis have paid off. Perhaps we should have spaced the meetings out towards the end and thereby gathered more experiences to work with.”

Executive Coaching

This series of ten coaching dialogues was conducted in 2002 with the Managing Director of a group of companies with an annual turnover in excess of SEK 2 billion.
The intent is to describe the possible long term effects.

The motive for initiating the coaching dialogues:
“I experienced a growing unease about my working life; I also felt a need to pause and reflect upon my career to date but also on the next twenty years to come.”

“I wanted to attain a greater insight into and understanding for the situation and problems I was facing as well as to try to achieve a greater capacity to handle them in my role as Managing Director.”

Long term effects
“Yes, absolutely! I have a greater awareness and tolerance of my own and others’ reaction patterns and more quickly understand both my own and others’ blind spots. I have a much greater ability to interpret my own feelings and to understand the difference between figments of my imagination and what is really worth paying heed to. On the whole to allow others the space to react without necessarily getting myself all wound up.
I am, I believe, better able to understand and to accept impossible situations without taking them too personally; I feel that I am more able to find a mature balance between reflection and action when required; furthermore I see more opportunities to understand and help others based on my own experience.
During these dialogues I learnt methods for handling situations in which there was great antagonism between individuals, methods that I still use today. This could be in conflicts but also in other situations where more complex decisions need to be made.”

What were the success factors?
“That the lay up was a timetabled recurrent series of dialogues. That space was given for my own reflection both as regards my thoughts and feelings during the dialogues. That time was given for my own internal processes and aha-experiences. The consultant’s encouragements to take it easy, to search within myself and to see how I felt were also very important.”

10 Minuters Coaching

”Samtalen har gett mig oerhört mycket. Jag är jättenöjd med att vi gjort detta och jag känner mig betydligt bättre rustad för min nya roll. Har bl.a. lärt mig att se hur negativa spekulationer kan kidnappa mig bort från här-och-nu i rollen som ledare. Jag känner att jag fått verktyg att bättre hantera detta.”

Conflict Management

The head of a large hotel in Stockholm contacted Billman Engquist & Company when two of his managers were unable to handle a conflict. He thought and hoped that a professional from outside of the organisation would best be able to help them.
The conflict had arisen when one of the supervisors felt that she had been bullied and harassed over several years by a colleague. There had been verbal attacks on occasions, a constant questioning of judgement, objections and sarcasm. The conflict had continued for many years and affected both of the managers and the working climate within their respective groups as well as the hotel staff as a whole. The situation was seriously undermining staff morale.

During the first dialogue with the managers and their superior all three described how they perceived the situation. After which the consultant, the hotel manager and the two managers agreed the goals, the plan and the modus operandi.
The clients and the consultant decided to meet for three two hour sessions in which the hotel manager would participate for the final fifteen minutes of each session to be able to follow and participate in the process. It was also important to have the hotel manager present to enable him to see and understand the connection between the employees’ conflict, leadership and the organisation.

Both of the managers wanted to let bygones be bygones thus freeing themselves of the negative effects on their cooperation, work enjoyment and working results. One of the managers expressed it in these words “I want to look forward to going to work because it’s fun and I want to feel satisfied with the day’s work when I go home.”

The managers:
“I never thought it would be possible to make this much progress in just three meetings; they have made an incredible difference. There is a much more relaxed atmosphere between us now; it is a huge leap forward. Before the thoughts ground away in my head from dawn till dusk, now they are a thing of the past, I no longer think about the conflict and feel liberated. It feels like I have better distance and don’t take things so personally any more.”

The hotel manager:
“I feel vindicated in my way of leading. It is extremely impressive that we could achieve so much in just three sessions. I am also proud that we have achieved this, at the beginning I was rather nervous as to how long we would have to continue and as to how much it would cost but I am able to say that we have really received value for our money.”

What were the success factors?
The managers:
“I think it was because I was really able to say exactly what I felt.”
“That I was able to hear things expressed in a manner that was concrete and real for me.”
“It was nice to be able to direct myself towards the consultant and then to you (my colleague).”
“Kommunikationen blev efterhand rakare mellan oss.”
“Communication became much straighter between us as a consequence of this.” “In some way it became serious.”
“It was also good that we took things step by step, calmly and steadily.”

Management Group Development

Billman Engquist & Company was contacted by the HR Director of an international chemical company faced with significant organisational changes. The client had identified problems in a multicultural management group whose function was to provide the group with information and control based on laws and regulations with the aim of optimising product development from molecule to finished product ready for marketing. The management group had great problems working together and confidence in the leader was very low; the group had been forced several times to cancel an important planned activity due to these problems.

In conjunction with our first meeting the team formulated, with the consultant’s support, both short and long term goals for the development of the management group. The short term goals were to plan and conduct an important business activity within two months, as well as to clarify the management group’s role. The long term goal was to build confidence within the group and external confidence in the group. Confidence is defined as “expectations for future results based on actual achievements”.

Organisation Initially the consultant met only with the head of the team who described the team’s problems; together they formulated a plan for the team’s development over a ten month period consisting of one to two day long sessions. At a later meeting with the team leader the consultant established the agenda and her intentions for working with the group. From this point forward the consultant worked integrated with the team into their regular meetings. During the process some members of the team left the management group and were replaced by new members, however the goals for the group remained the same.

• The management group was able to successfully complete the important business activity within the timeframe agreed, an activity that they had been unsuccessful in completing for almost a year. The team members were very satisfied with the results and the level of cooperation they achieved whilst under great pressure.
• Communication between the members of the management group and the leader improved dramatically. The members learned to pose clear questions, make concrete proposals and use their authority instead of aggressive behaviour during the meetings. Gossiping and complaining outside of meetings also stopped. The leader learned to stand criticism rather than adopting a defensive posture. She learned to listen better and to make suggestions rather than to criticise.
• The group formulated a common goal for their business and clarified roles. The group members increased their trust in one another. On a scale of one to ten their trust level went from a three to a seven.
• During the latter part of the assignment a significant restructuring of the team occurred. The company considered the dissolution of the function for which the team was responsible. The group was able to successfully prove their importance for the organisation as a whole and was given a reprieve. When working with this issue, the group was in full agreement that they had benefited greatly from what they had learned during the year of consultation.

Career Coaching

A female academic employed in the public sector, with a coordinating leader role, perceived herself as not developing inline with her personal resources and interests with her present employer. On recommendation she contacted Billman Engquist & Company to enquire as to whether we could help her with Career Coaching. She wanted help with research into how she should handle her career and into what would be realistic based on her total life situation.

• To find a course for her career based on her own motivation and resources that took into account outer realities (experience, family life)
• To formulate an action plan to achieve this.

After initial telephone contact, we reached a joint decision to conduct three coaching dialogues of 90 minutes each. There were four weeks between each session to give the client opportunity to reflect and gather relevant information for achieving her goals.

Just before the last session the woman commenced employment at a private consulting company. Her knowledge and insight into new fields of work was expressed concretely by an improved CV and presentation of herself:
“We identified the career course early in the process. I was given knowledge and insight into new fields of work, which I expressed in an improved CV and through more confidently and more clearly presenting myself, my experiences and my resources when applying for positions.”
The client also increased her self-knowledge:
“The process taught me to accept and appreciate the driving forces and my orientation to development that form part of my personality, and I started to be able to see the context and roles in which these could be utilized.”

What were the success factors?
“The consultant was generous in sharing personal experience within those fields that were relevant for the progression of the process.”
“Well structured; both as regards time and the consultant’s own structure.”
“The consultant had a positive progressive view and was not afraid to correct me when I lost my way.”
“The working climate was straight talking, open and clear!”