Middle Manager In-Basket: Exercise 820

As of June 30, 2023, this test will no longer be available.

Appointment processes requiring an assessment of key managerial competencies required for middle-management level positions can make use of the Manager Remote Assessment (557).

Note: Results from this test (MMIB-820) are not transferable to new appointment processes using the Manager Remote Assessment (557).


The Middle Manager In-Basket Exercise 820 provides rich and unique information on the overall ability to manage at the middle-management level.

The information yielded on managerial effectiveness can be highly useful in selecting people for middle-management positions. It can also establish the training and development needs of current or potential middle-managers, and for counselling for career transitions.

What Competencies are Assessed

The Managerial In-Basket Exercise 820 evaluates the ability to manage, and results are expressed in terms of a global score. In addition, candidates receive a sub-score out of 5 on each of the following specific managerial abilities: Analyzing, Problem Solving, Delegating, Managing Programs, Planning, and Organizing.

The sum of the scores on the six specific managerial abilities gives the candidate's score on overall ability to manage, which can vary from 0 to 30. The individual sub-scores on the specific managerial abilities are not intended to be used on their own. Hence, these sub-scores should not be used for screening purposes.

A description of each of the above mentioned competencies is given below.

How the In-Basket Works

The Middle Manager In-Basket Exercise 820 simulates the important aspects of a middle-manager's job. The individual takes on the duties of a middle manager of an organization.

At the time of the assessment, the individual receives:

  • background information, including the organization's mission statement and organizational chart.
  • documents similar to items normally found in a manager's in-basket, such as memos, letters, and reports.

The Middle Manager In-Basket Exercise 820 takes 3 ¼ hours, with an additional 15 minutes for administration purposes. During the 3 ¼ hours, the individual must do the following:

  • become familiar with the organization and the material in the in-basket.
  • respond to the items as if actually on the job, by writing memos and letters, planning meetings, preparing agendas, delegating tasks, etc. All actions or plans for action must be indicated in writing. (time alloted 2 ½ hours)
  • explain the approach taken with each item. (time alloted 45 minutes)


Each action is evaluated within the context of the particular problem under consideration, the organizational environment, and other actions taken. The judgement of executives and senior managers concerning the appropriateness of decisions and actions taken is the standard against which the responses are evaluated.

The actions taken and planned in dealing with problems presented in the Middle Manager In-Basket 820 are evaluated in terms of their effectiveness within the context of six specific managerial competencies. Each of these specific competencies is rated on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 being “very high”.

The sum of the ratings on the six specific managerial competencies gives the individual's rating on “overall ability to manage”. The overall score can vary from 0 to 30. Managers holding an appointment process can set the cut-off score based on the ability required by the position. They should consult the “Guidelines for Using the Managerial In-Basket Exercise 820”, which are available from the PPC.

Definitions of Competencies


Identifies, analyzes and evaluates personnel, operational, organizational and budgetary problems. Included are such activities as identifying underlying causes of problems; linking common elements and interrelationships between problems; relating problems to broader issues; and suggesting possible organizational implications.

Problem solving

Formulates alternative approaches to achieve objectives and propose solutions to long and short-term problems. Considers the benefits and risks of proposed solutions.


Makes effective use of personnel by taking into consideration capabilities and responsibilities of staff members. Delegates operational tasks, establishes provisions for follow-up, and critically assesses staff performance.

Managing programs

Manages activities and programs to ensure that work is accurate and that it conforms to relevant policies, as well as to the constraints of financial and human resources. Maintains priorities and quotas while meeting deadlines and maintaining a smooth work flow.


Initiates and develops an orderly and systematic pattern for completing activities and programs within the context of a demanding environment. Sets priorities to achieve objectives and formulates approaches that will ensure maximum use of human resources over the long-term.


Organizes work and activities through the use of systematic time management. Develops orderly procedures and methods to ensure maximum use of time and human resources. Activities include systematically scheduling work, using a calendar to organize activities, and critically evaluating demands on time.

Retest Period

There is a 180 day waiting period before you can rewrite the test. You may not retake it until the retest period has elapsed. If you rewrite the test before the retest period has elapsed, your result will not be valid and a new retest period will be imposed from the most recent test date.

Candidate Information

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