Push-out Score™

The number you need to know

Forced or voluntary departure? The Push-out Score is the number you need to know.

Measure of the pressure

The Push-out Score is a measure of the pressure on the departing executive.

The Push-out Scoring System™ is based on the assumption that management changes are triggered by pull-out forces and push-out forces.

Objective factors

The Push-out Scoring System focuses on objective factors. It was developed in close interaction with our readers.

Our readers include personnel professionals, global executive search and leadership consulting firms, executive coaching companies, management consulting firms, event-driven investment managers, corporate governance experts, private equity firms, banks and corporations.

Our readers require comprehensive information about the reason for the management change and details regarding the executive-firm fit.

How the scoring works

The Push-out Scoring System is based on academic research on executive turnover, proprietary algorithms and a text corpus containing thousands of management changes.

The higher the score, the more likely the manager was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position.

In order to avoid bias, we work with a standardized set of data and flags.

10 points: Openly pushed out 

When the manager is openly pushed out (e.g., “terminated for cause”) or when there is absolutely no doubt that the manager left the position due to pressure, then 10 points are given.

If the manager was not openly pushed out and the reason for the departure is not health-related, one point is given for each of the following parameters (proxy variables) when certain criteria are fulfilled.

  1. Form of the announcement
  2. Language in the announcement
  3. Age
  4. Notice period
  5. Tenure
  6. Share price development
  7. Official reason given
  8. Circumstances of the management change
  9. Succession

A Push-out Score of 0 to 1 suggests no significant signs for push-out forces.

A Push-out Score of 2 to 5 suggests significant signs for push-out forces.

A Push-out Score of 6 to 9 suggests strong signs for push-out forces.

Form of the announcement (1)

Mere formality?

Our analysis starts with the form of the announcement. Form expresses the attitude to the content.  The form should always be appropriate to the move. Form also means to align with etiquette and customs.

There may be a reason for breaking the norm. If the management change is buried deep within a big news release, communicated in a statement consisting only of one sentence or announced in an extremely formal and impersonal news release, it may cast a bad light on the event.

Language in the announcement (2)

Nothing but warm words?

Wording is important. Nuances can make the difference. Corporate announcements often go through long coordination meetings beforehand, where every single word gets wrestled with until there is an outcome. The result is many warm words.

The devil is in the details. Does the departing executive receive accolades for concrete successes, praise, thanks and good wishes — and perhaps even words of regret? Does the company silently remove the manager?

The challenge is to decode corporate speak. The highly focused look with a trained eye recognizes small and yet important details, such as poisoned praise or hidden criticism.

Age (3)

Time to say goodbye?

Retirement at age 60 is considered normal.

Retirement at age 52 raises questions.

Notice period (4)

Timely notice?

Investors prefer it when companies announce management changes with plenty of notice in advance.

The fact that the CFO leaves the position effective immediately sometimes tells enough.

Tenure (5)

Firmly in the saddle?

Strength grows with time. Protection against push-out forces increases with a long tenure. A long tenure enables a manager to surround himself with supporters.

With a short tenure, the executive chair may be a hot seat.

Share price development (6)

Satisfactory performance?

Top executives are measured by a number of things. The performance of a company’s stock is an important indicator.

A poor share price development increases pressure for change. And sometimes a scapegoat or a sacrificial lamb is sought.

Official reason given (7)

Plausible reason?

The official reason given for the management change should be comprehensible.

If no reason is given or the manager leaves “to pursue other opportunities”, “to spend more time with his family” or “for personal reasons”, questions arise.

Circumstances of the management change (8)

Clean desk?

The best time to hand over the reins is when everything is at its peak.

Profit warnings, class action lawsuits or pressure from activist shareholders indicate tough times.

Succession (9)

Slick baton change?

Our analysis closes with the succession. It guarantees continuity when a vacant post is filled internally and in an orderly manner.

The fact that a successor is brought in from outside suggests that the board may seek to stimulate change with fresh ideas and new initiatives. When no permanent successor is available or the position is eliminated, it is a sign for push-out forces.

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How to assess the Push-out Score™: a 10-step guide