The Truth About Employee Assessments: Are They Worth the Investment?

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By: Courtney Beam

Assessments can offer an organization or an individual a wide range of objective information that can be helpful when trying to determine capabilities that can lead to both success and failure such as: who to hire, areas ripe for development, blind spots in leadership development, identification of employees ready for the next level of leadership, how teams work best together (or not), and development gaps on a team. When organizations have their mind set on a specific tool, rather than the anticipated outcome of using the tool, the results can be expensive and many times ineffective.

So, are employee assessments worth the investment? Yes… but they should be supplemental and never a standalone solution. In nearly every case, an assessment should be coupled with a proper debrief by a certified professional, part of a larger coaching program, combined with other measurements when interviewing or to supplement learning in an e-learning or traditional training session. Let’s dive into each of these a bit further:

 

  • Assessments should include a debrief: When assessment results are passed along to the individual without an explanation of the framework, we believe it is an irresponsible use of the tool. Most certified coaches worth their salt will insist on a proper debrief before the individual receives their results or immediately after. Many assessments are complicated and the results can be misinterpreted, leading to a woeful waste of a wonderful development opportunity, and in some circumstances can cause more harm than good.
  • Assessments used in Coaching: Qualitative and quantitative 360-degree feedback tools are very popular methods of receiving multi-rater feedback on an individual’s performance, and when used appropriately can be extremely powerful. However, these should never be used as the only way to evaluate employee performance, especially in the event that the evaluation is tied to an increase in compensation. Instead, we recommend that the 360-degree feedback be tied to an individual development plan or overall evaluation of performance and coupled with other measures of performance. When performance increases, the ratings on a 360-degree feedback tool should also increase. They should also not be used when there is an insufficient number of raters to ensure anonymity.
  • Assessments used for hiring & selection: Organizations may choose to use a number of assessment tools during a hiring process. When paired with interviews and simulations, personality tests can help highlight possible behavioral and emotional patterns, as well as determine how a new hires may interact with other team members. These should never be used as a standalone method for selection. Simulation tools are also becoming increasingly population when predicting future ability and performance.
  • Assessments used to supplement learning: Depending on the topic, assessments woven into the fabric of a learning session can provide insight into each participant’s work styles, behaviors, cognitive strengths or even style of conflict to help deliver a more lasting impact on the topic.

Assessments are an important tool in modern talent practices. It’s important to consult with an expert on your organizations need first, before simply implementing an assessment. In what ways does your organization utilize employee assessments? Leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

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