Last week we opened up the topic around assessments - Why Workplace Assessments Fall Short... - we spoke about WHY assessments can miss the mark. This week we discuss WHAT you can do to ensure assessments DON'T fall short...along with a fair amount of further banter about whether an assessment is a route to take...
Begin with the end in mind...
This was covered a bit last week but bears repeating. Determine what you hope to accomplish by doing an assessment. Be clear as to WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION'S desired outcomes are for the assessment. For example, if your intent is to be able to more accurately predict performance - BE CAREFUL! You are getting in waters that are legally choppy and uncharted. Whereas, if you're using the assessment to better understand or to have indicators to then further develop and enhance how you support your workforce to achieve its objectives, that's an entirely different approach which is more realistic.
To drive the point, there was a study done by Frank L Schmidt and John Hunter "The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings." They reviewed the results of various methods used to predict performance in different jobs. Here's where they landed:
Note: none of the assessments are good at predicting performance. A correlation of 0.5 is weak, so even if you try to predict using the best available techniques by themselves, you run the risk of being “off” more times than not!
So let's ask again...what are trying to impact through an assessment?
Usually the assessment targets for the workforce focus on performance (i.e. improved knowledge, skill, ability). Other assessment areas include: employee engagement; retention; customer satisfaction; revenue; profit; or even, dare say, stock price.
Beyond the outcomes, common areas where assessments are used:
- Skills such as: communication, conflict-handling, decision-making, leadership, management, leadership, team building, and business / financial / sales / acumen.
- Career development / transition
Wait...one more question..."Is it a motivation problem?"
Sometimes a conclusion is reached that more training is needed because people are not performing at a level that is acceptable. Key questions to ask when that occurs: Did they ever do the job / task successfully? If so, what changed? Perhaps an assessment could determine if coaching, training or some other intervention could get the group back to previous levels. Or, perhaps a CONVERSATION with managers and frontline employees to get their take on what's happening. But something has changed, is there something else? Motivation? You'll need to determine what's causing the lack of performance. If it points towards motivation, you have a different opportunity to get to the root cause - a different blog.
If the answers to the previous two questions are "no", you might have a training opportunity.
Now back to the question about an assessment - Should you use an assessment?
Validate this objective further...
Are there ways we can assess for what we're trying to assess?
If so, how? A test? Survey? Observation?
Is what the assessment measures tied directly back or can be correlated to the objective(s)?
How have other organizations dealt with the "to assess or not assess" question?
Are there "off-the-shelf" assessments WE could use to achieve the objective(s)?
What do WE want the assessment to measure?
How will WE use the results of the assessment to address the original objective(s)?
What resources would be required to properly roll-out / support / maintain this initiative? Resources include: people, financial (hard and soft dollars), corporate assets.
Learn how others dealt with this need...
The simplest way to begin to do this is to look beyond your four walls - seek perspective from outside. Maybe even as simple as a Google search. Or better, since assessments usually fall to human resources, talent development, training and development - those groups should be part of their profession's associations (i.e. www.shrm.org (Strategic Human Resource Management focused on HR / Talent Development) and www.td.org (the world's largest Talent Development organization)) - as such, they should have access to to other organizations (perhaps in the same or different industries) who dealt with the same / similar objective(s).
Consider doing a test of the assessment...
If you're still trying to determine if it makes sense to move forward with a group or system-wide assessment, perhaps you consider doing an assessment with a small sample of the group you're trying to impact. Make certain the sample group is a good cross sample of the group /organization. This should not be meant to target someone or a group who will perceive the assessment as a kind of "witch hunt".
Review the results...
Ask two critical questions:
1. Did the results of the assessment give us a good indicator(s) for what we're hoping to impact?
2. Will the assessment allow us to address / impact / achieve our objective(s)?
If "yes" to the questions above, you could decide favorably to move forward with the affirmative reinforcement from the test ...
And, if you decide to move forward and you've thought through the questions of the validity of doing the assessment please do yourself AND your organization a favor:
- Make sure the key influencers are on-board;
- If yes, perhaps they could go through the same assessment?;
- Have a top-level management stakeholder become a champion of this initiative;
- Systematically roll it out;
- Educate frontline management team and their teams about the assessment;
- Have them take the assessment along with their team;
- Give EVERYONE feedback about the results;
- As an organization, continue to review the outcomes / progress since the assessment frequently;
- Share how the group is using the results of the assessment as a way to achieve the objectives identified.
- Celebrate the outcomes!
So, if you get the idea there's a lot to consider before deciding to roll out an assessment to your organization. GOOD! That's the point! Don't go into a full blown assessment roll-out without doing your due diligence up front and being prepared to make sure it achieves it's objective(s).
So, in our last blog, we've discussed the WHY of assessments. In this blog, we've the discussed the WHAT. Next week, we'll discuss the different off-the-shelf assessments out there.
My best in your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
Interested to Learn About Yourself or Your Team? Mark is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach and TotalSDI Facilitator and happy to discuss your situation / team.
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About Mark Myette
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