From the February 2002 issue of Startups

Do you want to know about the gaps in your business plan? What about the flaws in your management team? Or the detailed personality traits of all your team members? If you've answered no to these questions, stop reading right here. But for those of you who live by the mantra "Forewarned is fore-armed," check out a serious evaluation that could help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your management team and business plan.

The Management Team Performance Assessment is a detailed series of evaluations designed by T. Williams Consulting (TWC), a management consulting firm in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, in league with members of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Behavioral Health. What sets it apart from other evaluations is the psychological analysis of every member of your management team-it has a strictly clinical side. "A lot of start-ups struggle...and a lot have failed. [We wanted to know] what you can do to increase your chances of succeeding," says Terry Williams, founder and CEO of TWC. "We believe it's all about the execution and the people [as well as the] ability and the makeup of teams that play a big [role]."

Though the assessment is usually used by venture capitalists to help them make better investment decisions, entrepreneurs who want to know their own management team's strengths and weaknesses can use the system as well, according to Williams. The assessment consists of two parts: the business side and the psychological side. The team at TWC heads up the business aspect, where they look at things like the level of experience each team member has, former businesses started, reputation in the industry and how each member's experience and ability complements the team as a whole-they'll even do professional background checks, if requested.

Next Step
With all the tests available to evaluate your employees' performance, how do you know which ones are worth your while? Read "Evaluating Employee Tests" to make an informed decision.

The team at the University of Pennsylvania, led by Dr. Jody Foster, interim chair of the university's department of psychiatry, handles the psychological profile and analysis of the members. The two assessments are then melded into one analysis for the companies. If, for example, your company is peopled with micromanagers, yet no one has any financial planning background, they'll bring that to your attention and offer solutions. "It evaluates managers from four different angles as opposed to most packages, which will evaluate them by [just] one," says Foster. "We're approaching them from every conceivable angle that any psychologist, psychiatrist or management consultant would use."

"The philosophy behind it is that people's personality traits and maybe even their personal dynamics influence their behavior at work," says Foster. "We can assess that in a scientific or rational way and give an overview of who people are, [then] combine those people together into management teams and evaluate how those teams interact with each other. Then we can conceivably provide very valuable information both to the entrepreneurs and to people who might be interested in investing in their companies."