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EASI·Consult® Helps USG Identify and Prepare its Next Generation of Leaders

USG is North America’s leading producer and distributor of gypsum wallboard, joint compound and a vast array of related products for the construction and remodeling industries. If you live in a house, condo or apartment built after World War II, there’s a good chance the walls are made of material produced by USG.

In 2013, sales for USG reached $3.2 billion worldwide. In North America, the company has 14 mines and quarries, and more than 50 facilities that produce building materials such as wallboard, joint compound, cement board, ceiling suspension systems and ceiling tiles.

Goal: The cyclical nature of the housing market has led to repeated periods of growth and contraction for USG and its workforce. Maintaining lean operations during down turns in the industry led to early retirements or employees leaving the company for other fields. With the housing market starting to show improvement, USG recognized it did not have enough  mid-level leaders who were prepared to move into its senior positions.

USG hired EASI·Consult® to help identify, assess and develop high-potential midlevel leaders to prepare them for senior executive positions. The effort was part of a year-long Emerging Leaders Program at USG that also included seminars at business schools in the Chicago area.

Process: EASI Consult began by creating two competency models for USG – one for midlevel leaders and one for senior level executives. With the competency models, EASI Consult worked with USG to identify the attributes, skills and abilities that characterize superior performers.

USG and EASI Consult then used the models to evaluate the current performance of employees who appeared to be candidates for the high-potential program. Each employee was also evaluated using the model that would apply for one-level above his or her current position.

Based on those evaluations, a core group of about 20 people were tapped to participate in the Emerging Leaders Program. This program included a comprehensive, two-day assessment center program developed by EASI Consult. Before attending this assessment center, each participant completed several leadership-style questionnaires and a 360-degree feedback questionnaire, which provided feedback on employee performance from members of an employee’s immediate work circle.

At the assessment center, the high-potential leaders participated in a “year-in-the-life” simulation of a USG executive.

“We put them in this role and they were to serve as the president of a new division and today is February 1,” said Joseph A. Gier, Ph.D., vice president for consulting services at EASI Consult.

The entire assessment center, including various role-play exercises, was made as realistic as possible. Each participant was told that he or she had just been promoted to lead a fictitious division and was given an office, a phone, a computer, and everything else they would need in their new job. EASI Consult set up a portal where participants could access email addresses and an address directory for everyone they would interact with during the center. EASI Consult’s consultants served as USG senior executives, coworkers, suppliers, dissatisfied customers, and others who were involved in the various role-play simulations. Emails from EASI Consultants were in the participants’ in boxes when the exercise began, waiting for their replies and providing information and directives.

Every few hours, the calendar moved forward within the mock year, bringing new challenges. In one exercise, an EASI Consult consultant playing the role of the company’s CEO would meet in the office of a participant to discuss sales numbers. In another, a consultant played the role of a supplier who had not met its obligations. “During the entire assessment center process, each participant faced numerous challenges and role plays,” Gier said.

After wrapping up each meeting, the consultant would return to provide immediate feedback and suggestions to the participant on how he or she performed in that particular exercise. Each time an EASI Consult consultant met, talked on the phone, or emailed a participant, the consultant prepared feedback.

“One thing that is important about an assessment center is that more than one consultant is interacting with each of these folks,” Gier said. “We accumulated information from each of those exercises they faced, and we continually gave them feedback.”

However, EASI Consult assigned one “lead consultant” to each participant to spearhead the evaluation efforts. At the end of the day and a half assessment center, each participant received a report that included information from the 360-degree surveys, leadership-style questionnaires, and feedback collected during each role-playing exercise. The lead consultant then sat down with the participant assigned to him or her for a two-hour comprehensive feedback session.

From there, EASI Consult developed an executive coaching plan for each participant based on the reports, and provided one-on-one coaching for three to six months, Gier said.

Results: USG promoted more than 50 percent of the people who participated in the assessment center process within two to three years of completing the program.

“Obviously, with all of the assessment information, feedback, coaching, and outside seminars, those people were ready and able to be promoted,” Gier said. “On average, the participants evaluated the Emerging Leaders Program as the most valuable leadership-development program they’d ever been in.”

In Summary: In developing and conducting assessment centers and leadership development for USG, EASI Consult was able to help the company prepare its next generation of leaders/executives so that it was able to grow as the housing market began an upward cycle.

EASI·Consult® works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. EASI Consult’s specialties include individual assessment, online employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.

EASI·Consult® is the registered name for Expert Advocates in Selection International, LLC.
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