According to a recent Aberdeen report, more than 2/3 of top companies use assessments to inform their hiring decisions. And the most resourceful companies take the predictive power of assessments beyond the screening process—leveraging them as a dynamic development tool.
Development should be an ongoing practice in any organization, because everyone has room for improvement, even your top performers (and a big part of strategic development is keeping employees engaged and motivated to perform well). If a company wants build a winning team and winning culture, then they work to continuously improve their organization.
Assessments provide a measurable and objective way to develop a team of any size, and at any level of an organization—so they continue to be a valuable asset, even after the hiring decisions are made.
Development Strategy Starts at the Top
A company’s culture is reflective of the strategic intent of senior management. For development assessments to work properly, executives and other leadership need to fully embrace a culture geared toward the ongoing success of their employees.
Because senior-level employees are often seen as the role models and top performers of a business, their personal buy-in of development planning creates an aura of excitement and betterment for the their teams and the rest of the staff.
Oftentimes, before the full rollout of a development plan, executives will trial the assessment product first, as a sort of pilot test. This is an important starting point because it sets the tone of dedication for the rest of the company and gives the employees a glimpse of what to look forward to.
Types of Development Assessments
Assessments for development come in many forms, and the best development strategies usually include a mix of personality, 360 feedback, and simulations. These types of assessments use proven competency models to determine how much of a particular trait a person is likely to exhibit, and how it will effect their success on the job.
Personality assessments measure the learned and innate traits of an individual in a work-related context—that part’s important! If an assessment meant for development isn’t built within the context of work performance, it won’t help develop employees at work.
On an individual level, these assessments tell an employee where they fall in relation to top industry performers, and they provide insightful feedback about strengths and weaknesses, which helps an employee understand and prioritize what they should be working to improve.
360 degree feedback assessments are multi-rater assessments. They provide another layer of insight from coworkers. An employee rates him or herself according to what they see as strengths and weaknesses, then peers, managers, and direct reports give their feedback to use as points of comparison. This type of assessment helps uncover hidden talents as well as potential weaknesses that the employee isn’t aware of.
When used in a team setting, these outside perceptions of a person have a lot of power. For example, if everyone on a team rates each other and themselves, the assessment might uncover that the whole group has the same weak spot. In a case like this, a group training can help improve the entire team in that specific area.
Simulations are one of the newest ways to develop employees and can be done online as a more scalable solution than an in-person simulation. Different from a personality assessment or 360-feedback tool, simulations offer a “day-in-the-life” type of measurement, where an individual is given the chance to show their judgment and decision-making skills in a realistic setting.
The employee is given different work-related scenarios (something like, “An employee misses work a few times without calling in, what do you do?”) then chooses the response that matches the way they would act in real life. Developing employees through simulations helps gauge how people deal with managing and understanding their coworkers, and whether or not the decisions they choose reflect what is needed for the role.
Developing employees is something every company should do, and using assessments for development is the most data-driven way to identify benchmarks and track changes over time. Assessments provide the insight that employees and coaches need to create action plans around clear and obtainable objectives. To be most effective, all assessments should be grounded in a work-related context, and all employees should be actively engaged in the process. Best-in-class organizations use assessments for development, and the payoff is evident in their success.