Assessment Centres: Time for a Fresh Approach – Part 2
As I discussed in Part 1, many companies depend on assessment centre methodology as a key tool in talent recruitment and development. Recent studies indicate, however, that the predictive value of this approach has declined considerably – an outcome, I believe, of cost reduction pressures, an increase in unqualified assessors, competency frameworks that have lost their relevance, and outmoded delivery methods that are out-of-step with the realities of business today.
In order to confront these challenges head on, the first step is the integration of technology. Technology has become integral to today’s world of work and it is important that assessment centres capitalize on the latest advancements to create a more realistic experience for candidates. Properly applied, technology provides:
Distributed delivery and scalability to help reduce costs
Standardization and control to solve quality issues
Contemporary diagnostic tools to regain relevance to today’s leadership development needs.
Technology-enabled assessment centres provide a much more realistic experience – one that “feels right” to participants since it incorporates the everyday digital tools that businesses run on, such as computers, email systems, and so on. The ultimate goal of an assessment centre should be to mirror a “day in the life” of the target role from the participant’s perspective.
Another important step is to conduct a proper job analysis to define the key success factors to be measured during the assessment centre. Simply electing to go with an off-the-shelf assessment or standardized benchmark is a recipe for irrelevant results. To reliably predict something as complex as human behavior it is imperative to thoroughly analyze what “success looks like” in the target role within the organization. Our experience and research show that high performance is organizationally specific … meaning that the success criteria for a position in one organization may be very different from the same position in another company. There is no shortage of examples of leaders who have been wildly successful in one organization and then failed miserably in another. This seems to be the fundamental issue with leveraging a standardized benchmark for talent assessment.
To help your organization get the most from its investment in assessment centre methodology, consider the following:
Ensure your benchmark for success is relevant and up to date by doing a thorough job analysis on the target role
If you are conducting the assessment internally, ensure that all assessors have completed assessor training and have proper assessor guidance
Use exercises that reflect today’s world of work and have the proper integration of technology and virtual business challenges
Deploy tracking mechanisms that allow you to correlate the results of the assessment with on-the-job performance and continually improve the process over time
If you decide to engage an assessment provider, determine how they are able to ensure the proper discipline is applied in all steps of the assessment process from job analysis and success profiling, to administration and evaluation, through to feedback and coaching. Ask yourself: is the process truly being fitted for my organization? This is critical for effective decision-making and impactful results for the individual and the organization. Taking a shortcut on any of these key steps will impact the quality and validity of the outcome.
I believe that, fundamentally, the assessment centre methodology is still sound and can be a powerful predictor of future performance. But it requires an approach that is customized to your organization’s competencies and culture … uses technology to drive relevance, scalability, and standardization … and is guided by experienced assessment professionals to yield the best results.
Is your organization using assessment centre methodology? What has been your experience? How are you handling the challenges? Let’s talk.