Philips technical competency assessment case study

  • Company:
  • Support strategic development needs of employees and ‘future state’ of business
  • Devised bespoke technical competency assessment platform.


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Philips initially selected ETS as its provider for a global 360 degree feedback programme in 2013.
The relationship has since developed with ETS becoming a valued strategic technology and consultancy partner working across multiple people programmes.

Following on from the successful implementation of the 360 programme, Philips asked for our help to devise a technical competency assessment tool for employees.


Philips has a key focus on people development, with a yearly performance management cycle and individual development plans that are set up for each employee. However, they recognised that for both for managers and employees it may be hard to find the right areas to develop in. To guide them, Philips planned to develop competency profiles. By combining these with a manager and self-assessment for each employee, the aim was to make it easy for people to find their strengths and weaknesses that are most relevant to their roles.

Their overall objective was to ensure all employees possess the necessary skills for their current job level, and to inform their development and career plans. And, with the broader business transformation plans in mind, Philips wanted to match roles to the future state and what they want the organisation to become.

Mandy Waber, Integrated Talent Manager at Philips, explains their aim for the competency assessment programme:

“We want to enable our people to identify their own strengths and weaknesses using competencies they all consider crucial to their jobs. We encourage them to then use these insights to have better, more structured and more objective development conversations with their manager.”

Philips considered other providers for this project but chose ETS due to the fact that the 360 feedback platform was already well-embedded and globally approved.


Designing new competencies

To support employees’ development for the ‘future state’ of the organisation, Philips started creating competency profiles. They led a thorough process carrying out a series of workshops using people already in the roles to help to define what behavioural, technical and functional competencies were crucial to each role.

Technology platform

We created the competency assessment process and were able to house this within the existing technology platform we’d created for the 360 feedback programme at Philips. This naturally meant efficiencies in the time and cost of set up. It also meant that both feedback processes, while distinct, would be aligned, ensuring a familiar and consistent user experience.

For the initial roll-out, the competency assessment process was customised to the needs of the procurement team at Philips. The tool is overseen by an administrator within the team who provides access to employees and their line manager, inviting both parties to log in to complete the online evaluation.


It was really important for Philips that the reports be very action-focused. The chosen report format places a strong emphasis on what actions the individual should consider rather than focussing on the scores alone. It provides a helpful summary using visually impactful and simple graphics. This means that the recipient can easily digest the report and begin to draw conclusions straight away.

To help prioritise key competencies within job roles, Philips introduced manager importance ranking. This involves asking managers to rank the first five most critical competencies for the individual. Employees are then better informed to select the competencies to work on in their Individual development plan.

Another notable aspect of the report is the inclusion of open text comments relating to certain questions. This allows employees to understand the reasoning behind why they’ve received a particular rating. It also provides guidance on things they should continue, stop or start doing and advice for development actions to consider.


The competency assessment process has been really well received within Philips, as Mandy Waber explains:

“The process is already being used globally by employees at Philips, with over a 90% completion rate among those it was available to. Individual employees are finding it really useful from a development perspective, it’s helping managers too as well as giving us useful aggregate-level insights.”

Gaining senior-level buy-in has been crucial to achieving such a high initial uptake. Philips has also employed an effective communication plan to raise awareness of the tool, including using webcasts to announce its arrival and email alerts.

Supporting development

Philips ensures people can develop themselves based upon key competencies by creating a series of learning guides for each role. In doing so, they follow the 70 – 20 – 10 learning model, giving people suggestions of how they could learn on the job, how they could learn from others, and what formal training they could pursue.

Aggregate level insights

Philips is also using the aggregate-level data to inform strategic plans and development needs. This is helping to identify organisational strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the data is helping them to find the most significant skills gaps that exist in teams. All findings are then shared with the learning and development specialist to follow-up and to inform interventions.

Business impact:

The impact of this programme is already being seen in the following ways:

  1. People are now even clearer about what is expected of them in their job
  2. The difference in perceptions between manager and employee is leading to good conversations
  3. The aggregate-level reports are triggering important discussions and new actions
  4. There’s been an increase in ratings over the last 3 years of 0.15 over all 3 levels of competencies.

Future evolution:

Plans are afoot to roll out the competency assessment more widely at Philips, including for the sales and quality & regulatory teams. They are keen to retain a consistent approach to doing this, retaining a very similar process despite each area having differing needs. There is flexibility within the tool to support such nuanced requirements.

Philips also plans to explore enhancements and additions such as target ratings to show more detailed gap analysis, defining an ambition level for all technical competencies and providing improved development tips in reports that are linked directly competencies to further support individual development.

Video: Hear from Philips on their experience of partnering with ETS