TAG overview

We believe it is essential for our leaders to develop and grow so that they can lead all employees Group-wide to the best of their ability. Within our company, many teams collaborate across sites and international boundaries. While the variety of skills, strengths and experience these teams bring to the table creates great potential for our leadership to leverage, global collaboration too plays an increasingly important role in the development of our next generation of leaders.

Our approach to good leadership

Our strategic competency model describes core competencies that should underpin the conduct of employees of all levels. Our six core competencies are Purposeful, Future-oriented, Innovative, Results-driven, Collaborative, and Empowering. In our day-to-day work, they play an important role in our success. This model provides the foundation for all development activities within our HR work, including leadership and management programs, talent development strategies, our 360 degree feedback tool, and career management services. It applies to all employees but particularly to our leaders, who act as role models and are therefore key to building employee buy-in for the competency model. In addition, the model defines the leadership culture through which we intend to grow our business. Building on this model, in 2018 we defined six leadership behaviors that outline the way we expect our leaders to act.

Our Competencies

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Purposeful means capturing the meaning of our work at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, following our mission to improve people’s lives and adhere to ethical behavior. This includes our commitment to internal and external customers and users with high-quality and high-impact solutions.


Empowering means means unfolding potential in self and others by providing guidance, driving personal development and sharing enthusiasm.


Collaborative means working together across departments and geographies, encouraging teamwork that respects diverse backgrounds and cultural differences. It also means considering local needs and regulations (laws) when driving global initiatives.


Results-driven means setting oneself and others stretch performance targets as well as establishing a feedback culture and taking responsibility.


Innovative means constantly experimenting and driving change initiatives. This includes being open to new ideas, making quick decisions and taking risks.


Future-oriented means continuously seeking best-practice solutions and embracing opportunities of new technologies to shape the future of our business.

During career advancement discussions, employees and supervisors review specific growth and development needs, as well as the progress of development measures. Through employee surveys, our people moreover have the opportunity to evaluate various factors such as leadership quality within our company.

How we facilitate good leadership

We expect our leaders to be attuned to the needs of our diverse workforce and therefore provide them support in the form of resources and data. At the same time, they can access transparent feedback through specially developed tools in order to track the impact of their decisions.

Management and talent programs for leaders

In recent years, we have initiated three programs to enhance the skills of our people managers. The Managerial Foundation Program imparts the basics of leadership, such as communication techniques, leadership styles, conflict management, motivation, and emotional intelligence. The Advanced Management Program covers topics such as change management, self-reflection and resilience. In addition, it teaches coaching methods that help leaders transition from their first management role to positions leading cross-functional and international teams. The third initiative is our Global Leadership program, which focuses on competencies needed to ensure successful international collaboration. In 2018, the Managerial Foundation and Advanced Management programs were offered at several of our sites worldwide, while the Global Leadership program was held in Germany and the United States.

Since 1999, we have been partnering with top international universities to offer an international and modular University program for our company. Over a period of ten months, senior executives take classes on management techniques and strategic business development. To date, a total of 397 executives have completed this program.

Another initiative we have been offering our up-and-coming leaders since the 1990s is our International Management Program, where participants work on an interdisciplinary project over a period of eight months. The results are then presented to the Executive Board. In 2018, 26 of our employees took part in this program.

In addition to these various programs, we partner with universities across the globe to enable our employees to obtain qualifications such as an Executive MBA.

In 2015, we launched a Growth Markets Management Program (GMMP) covering business administration topics and content specific to our company for local leaders in Africa, China, Latin America, and the Middle East.

By the end of 2018, 59% of our people managers rated 3+ had taken part in one of these management and talent programs.

Leveraging growth market potential

In 2018, six of our employees successfully completed “Afrika kommt!”, a one-year scholarship offered by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) that trains young experts and leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa. In supporting this initiative, we aim to build a pool of regional partners to encourage economic cooperation between Germany and Africa. 17 former scholarship recipients are now working for us in various specialist and leadership positions, some of them in various countries in Africa and others in Darmstadt. Nine new candidates were chosen for the seventh round of “Afrika kommt!”. They took up their positions at our company in November 2018.

We use a market-oriented system to rate positions within the company. To facilitate consistency across the organization, each position is assigned a specific role, with an overarching job architecture classifying each role as one of 11 levels, 15 functions and an array of career types (Core Operations, Services & Support Groups; Experts; Managers; Project Managers).

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