You’re dropped into rugged, unforgiving terrain and have to survive. (Sorry, no Bear Grylls to save you). Would you rather have a single-bladed pocketknife or a Leatherman? If you went with door #1, I worry about you. You’d want the Leatherman, which comes with everything but someone to use it for you. So why on earth would you limit yourself to a “single-bladed” assessment when you could have an array of tools at your disposal? Doesn’t make sense, does it?
The Single-Blade Approach
Recently I was approached by a hiring manager in a small company of about 200 people. She said, “We want to benchmark our people in roles. What can we do?”
Well, a couple of things, but first, before you even decide what assessment you’re going to use, you need to figure out what you want to measure. Without that critical information there’s no sense in bothering. I couldn’t get this person to flat-out tell me what she needed. Eventually, I found out that she was interested, not really in the assessments, but in the prices. Her response when I gave her an initial proposal?
“Wow, that’s kind of a lot if we want to have everyone in every department take assessments.” Maybe... I have a big “but” coming. You don’t just get a piece of paper or a computer screen full of data that you have to sit down and analyze yourself. You have the benefit of feedback from a professional who is duly trained and qualified to work with you to improve your people, processes and organization. This allows you to put the information into context and determine how individuals will operate in their roles and which behaviors will show up in different scenarios.
BUT, in order for that data to be of any practical use, you have to figure out what you want to measure! There are multiple assessments, just like our Leatherman has multiple tools. You want to have multiple tools in your hiring and employee development toolbox. A variety of assessments, targeted and validated for your specific needs will help you make the most conscious, deliberate hiring and development decisions.
Assessment as Crew Chief
In this case, it turns out that the hiring manager just wanted an assessment that measured aptitude. If she’d told me that in the beginning, I could have sent her on her way with her inexpensive single-bladed assessment.
Why settle for a limited scope of information, when you can have much broader and deeper insights into candidates?
Here’s another example: Say you’re a NASCAR driver. You’re racing around, and you depend on the observations and advice of your crew chief. He’s monitoring the tire pressure, the track conditions, fuel levels. He’s developing strategies, and ensuring his people interact seamlessly. He has to know what’s happening in the car, with the driver, with his crew, on the track…
And you need to know how an employee will behave in the workplace, interact with other employees and leaders, respond to different situations. You need to gather information on multiple factors in order to make the best decisions. Assessments act like crew chiefs, pulling it together for you.
Assess in 3D
Some assessments are one-dimensional: they measure only a small slice of any one person during one specific time in their lives. The problem is that people are neither one-dimensional nor stagnant. They learn, grown, and change. If you’re depending on a static assessment, you’re going to end up with static employees.
A much better route: use assessments such as Talent Insights® and TriMetrix® that look at multiple dimensions: competencies, behaviors, motivators, acumen. Using these in conjunction with your job benchmarks, you can assess candidates according to your own parameters and find the best fit. And you don’t have to stop there: re-administer them from time to time as the employee grows.
Say someone was hired with a certain top 7 competencies? Great. Do the assessment again in a year. Maybe this person learned new ones and developed in other areas. Maybe you can look at these people against benchmarks for other roles and move them into new positions. Internal hiring is one way to weather the talent shortage and ensure you have leaders for tomorrow.
Are you fine settling for one-dimensional, single-bladed assessments? You should be fine with settling for subpar hires. If you’re not ok with that, find out how to get the tools you need to do better.