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Further to our recent research here are some selected responses from HR leaders outlining assessment tool they find useful to assess for commercial thinking, questions they employ to probe for this, and innovative steps they’ve taken to see an improve their assessment for commercial thinking or levels of competence in their existing team.

We hope you may find some of this helpful!

Some preferred assessment tools:

  • Saville Swift Analytic assessment
  • 16PF
  • Myers Briggs
  • Hogan
  • FIRO
  • SHL/OPQ32
  • Thomas International Kiddy

Question Bank to assess for commercial thinking

  • Tell me about a time when you have implemented an initiative that impacted the financial results of your group. How did you measure the effectiveness of this intervention?
  • How do you calculate the ROI when proposing a compromise agreement exit?
  • Please provide an example of when you have made a direct impact on the bottom line.
  • What have you done in the past which has increased the profitability of the business?
  • Tell me what role you play in business strategic planning sessions and annual budget setting
  • How have you ‘added value’ to your current business (looking for what they perceive as demonstrating value to the business and how it relates to commercial impact)
  • What is your understanding of our business and the wider environment in which we operate (customers, competitors and suppliers)?
  • What are the key business challenges facing your current employer? What HR strategy or interventions are in place to help address them? Reading our website before this interview, what do you think are some of our business challenges?
  • What are the three key areas your customers look for in their purchasing decisions?
  • How do you ensure you have a full understanding of your key stakeholder’s priorities?
  • What are the biggest industry challenges and influencers to your organisation at the moment?
  • Help me understand the financial position of the organisation that you were partnering with?  How did you access financial, profitability data to help you understand more about the business?
  • Please give me an example of a time where you have advised a line manager with a course of action that would directly impact the bottom line of the business.
  • Give me an example of the risk approaches you use
  • How do you display commercial acumen in your daily work?
  • Please describe more about your business – how it makes money, what factors most impact its profit, current opportunities and threats. How has HR/have you supported the business to meet its goals and challenges?
  • How would you describe the financial performance of your current company/division you support? How is HR contributing to improving this?
  • In your opinion, what are the key business drivers that impact on business success and how can HR support these?
  • How would you justify the need for your role and the cost of you as a resource?
  • Tell me about the business performance of your previous role. What business challenges did you face and what was the impact on the people strategy and plan
  • How would your frontline stakeholder group describe your added value?
  • What are your current priorities? How are you measuring success of these?
  • How does your current role/team connect with the customer experience?
  • Where do you think the Board sees HR contributing to your organisations’ strategy? (demonstrates an appropriate level of research and appreciation for HR’s contribution to business strategy and engagement with the boards primary objectives)
  • Give me an example where ‘HR best practice’ and ‘business needs’ have not been in line, and explain how you dealt with that (looking for reference to financials, competitiveness, risk)
  • What are the top three commercial considerations for your current organisation? What are the current limitations to commercial success? What are you doing to address those limitations?
  • Give me an example of where you have created a HR solution that has a direct impact on top line growth and how did you measure this?
  • Is the correct legal approach always the right approach for the organisation, if not give me examples of when, why and how this was different?
  • Why and how do use financial metrics in your current organisation? Give examples
  • What would be your priorities when advising line managers who have just gained a new “services” contract to manage?
Ways to improve assessing for commercial thinking, or cultivate commercial thinking in your team

  • Working with Finance to develop workshops and follow up activities to learn about business financials
  • Using commercial case studies to simulate real life scenarios they’d encounter
  • Organising operational or customer site visits
  • Organisation design exercise based on customer data
  • Develop programmes in strategic workforce planning
  • Work through P&L with Finance Director or Commercial Operations
  • Ask each member of HR team to present to the HR team about the area of business they support – their objective, challenges, financials etc
  • Asking them to attend financial business review and then provide summary report
  • Ask team to explain how an internal HR team offers value where an external HR team doesn’t
  • Invite subject matter experts (non-HR) to present at team meetings