Team Management Systems

Talent Management at TNS: Developing leaders at one of the world's largest research groups

By Cliff Chalon
Copyright © Chalon Performance Consulting. All rights reserved.

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TNS is one of the world's largest custom research groups, with over 14,000 employees. Operating in 70 countries in a wide variety of markets, TNS provides sophisticated techniques to help clients build stronger brands, as well as being a leading provider of social and political polling.

For several years, TNS had run a leadership development program to develop and retain its talented research managers and other professionals. However, Fareed Shaik, TNS Regional Training and Development Manager, Asia-Pacific and Wyn Black, TNS Regional HR Director, decided something different was required to meet the specific needs of the Asia-Pacific region.

Having the regional headquarters for HR in Singapore, TNS had teams of professional research staff in 15 Asia-Pacific countries, from India and Australia to China and Korea. Fareed and Wyn wanted to implement a 'best practice' program that would engage people from different cultural backgrounds. The program also had to meet the needs of professionals at different levels of the organization and stages of their careers, and produce results that would improve the quality of leadership and management in TNS, thus resulting in tangible improvements in productivity and performance.

After investigating options available in the Asia Pacific marketplace, they decided to revise the entire existing program using the Linking Leader Profile (LLP) and Team Management Profile (TMP) from the Team Management Systems (TMS) suite of instruments. The TMS products were chosen because they are backed by rigorous research, are practical, easily administered, and can be applied with people from different cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, the Profiles would provide accurate and insightful information which would be used throughout the program to focus learning.

The 'Managing Self, Managing Others' (MSMO) Management Development program for that year was held in Bangkok and brought together 19 high potential managers from across the Asia Pacific region. The program was designed around the 13 Linking Skills highlighted in the Linking Leader Model. Feedback was obtained from the individual, their supervisor and their direct reports, to identify the gaps between how well they 'should be' and how well they 'were' achieving each of the Linking Skills.

The detailed and specific feedback contained within the Profiles provided a powerful Training Needs Analysis, which enabled us to pinpoint their development priorities. At each step of the way, participants were asked to summarize their learning and generate action items in relation to their own work improvements. In this way, we supported the managers to make full use of the results and transfer their enhanced awareness immediately to their work.

Each manager also received their own Team Management Profile which provided further insight into how they communicate and influence others, gather and use information, make decisions, lead others and what impact this has on their teams. When combined with the feedback in the Linking Leader Profile, this made for an intense but comprehensive learning experience, enabling them to develop concrete action plans to take back to their workplace.

One of the delegate Research Managers, Alice Cheong commented, "The Profile feedback was particularly useful in helping me redirect my behavior when working with my supervisor and coworkers."

On the approach taken in the program, Fareed said, "We used experiential and accelerated learning techniques throughout the entire 3 days to solicit active participation from participants, and engage them. At every opportunity the group was encouraged to apply the learning to the workplace, by considering their own experience and sharing ideas with others. In this way an environment of continuous learning was fostered."

Another delegate, Business Group Director Andrea Snook from TNS HK, said, "Personally, the program really helped me not only identify the areas which I consider important in management, but also how the team perceives my management style. It challenged me to think about how I do things and gave all of the course delegates an immediate action plan to take forward with the support of our colleagues, to develop a strong, high-performing team."

Post-program assignments and coaching was provided as needed and ensured that participants had someone to contact to discuss any issues they had and to embed the learnings in their behavior.

TNS' MSMO Management Development program, using the Linking Leader Profile, is an important step towards cultivating best practice leadership skills and motivating managers and teams to enhance performance, deliver objectives and improve productivity.

Copyright © HR Access. All rights reserved.

Cliff Chalon is the Director of Chalon Performance Consulting, an international consulting and training firm based in Perth, Western Australia. He has over 27 years’ experience in human resources, training and organization development, across several industry sectors within Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. CPC offers a complete ‘global best practice’ range of HR/HRD/OD consulting services intent on improving performance and contributing substantially to profitability. All consulting projects and training programs are delivered to maximize real business outcomes and genuine improvement in performance. Cliff possesses exceptional skills as a facilitator. He is a Certified Workplace Trainer and Assessor (Aust), Certified Trainer for American Management Association (AMA, Certified Chally Talent Analyst, Accredited Facilitator in Situational Leadership, and in Team Management Systems (TMS). Cliff’s engaging delivery style and practical focus draw on years of practice and hard-earned experience. He travels regularly to assignments with international organizations within the region. Cliff holds a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management, a Post Graduate Diploma in Business, and a Diploma in Personnel Administration. He is also a past National Director of the Australian Institute of Training and Development, Member of the International Society for Performance Improvement and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

For more information contact Cliff by e-mail: or visit

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