Good leadership

Within our company, teams collaborate across sites and international boundaries. Team members bring a variety of skills, strengths and experience to the table, creating great potential that can be leveraged by management. Our management processes fundamentally follow an international approach. Global collaboration is also playing an increasingly important role in the development of our next generation of managers.

Our principles


Our strategic competency model describes core competencies on which employees of all levels should base their conduct. Our competency model was revised in 2015 and now more clearly defines the leadership culture through which we will grow our business. Our six core competencies are purposeful, future-oriented, innovative, results-driven, collaborative, and empowering. In our day-to-day work, these core competencies play an important role in our success. Our competency model provides the foundation for all development activities within our HR work – for employees, but also for our managers, who act as role models and are therefore key to building employee buy-in for the competency model.

Our competency model

Management program

We have instituted three programs to enhance the leadership skills of our managers. Our goal is for at least 50% of our senior managers and promising 14+ employees to have participated in one of the programs by the end of 2018. We always adapt the programs to the particular needs of various countries.

We use our Performance and Potential Management Process to gauge the impact of these development initiatives. Furthermore, our employees also take surveys to rate the quality of leadership within our company.


We have three programs in place to develop our managers. The Managerial Foundation and Advanced Management programs were both launched in 2013, while the Global Leadership program was established in 2016 based on the results of an evaluation of our leadership and business model. The Global Leadership Program teaches our managers how to think and act with a global focus so as to ensure successful international collaboration. Within two years, we intend for all top 400 managers (Global Grade 16+) to have completed this program. Since the introduction of these initiatives, approximately 2,400 managers have taken part in total.

Expanding talent development Group-wide

Since 1999, we've been working in partnership with top international universities to offer a multiregional and modular program. Over a period of ten months, participants complete classes on management techniques and unique features of growth markets. To date, 373 senior managers have taken part. Since the 1990s, our up-and-coming managers have also had the opportunity to complete the International Management Program, where participants work on an interdisciplinary project over a period of six months. The results are presented to the Executive Board. Moreover, we also partner with universities across the globe in an effort to help our employees obtain qualifications such as an executive MBA.

Leveraging growth-market potential

In the training of our managers, we also offer opportunities for employees in growth markets. In 2015, for instance, we launched our Growth Markets Management Program for local managers in India and Latin America. Over a period of up to two years, this training covers business administration topics such as marketing and financial analysis, along with content specific to our business such as our strategy and corporate culture. We launched similar programs in China in 2013, and in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia-Pacific in 2016. To date, 235 managers have taken part.

Furthermore, in 2015-2016 three of our employees successfully completed “Afrika kommt!”, a one-year scholarship program offered by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). This program aims to help specialists and managers from Sub-Saharan Africa obtain qualifications, thereby building a pool of regional partners for German industry. Five former scholarship recipients now work for us, two of them in their home countries of Ghana and Nigeria and the remaining three still in Darmstadt. In 2016, eight new candidates were chosen for the fifth round of “Afrika kommt!”

Our Competency Model
This model describes the behaviors needed to drive our strategic orientation and success. These behaviors therefore provide key guidance for all learning and development activities.
Global Grade
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany uses a market-oriented method to rate positions within the company. The Group has 23 Global Grades that enable a consistent rating system for positions across the organization.