I have a love-hate relationship with behavior style assessments.
Used appropriately, they can be fantastic tools for organizations to assess fit and to increase people’s self-awareness, relationship effectiveness, leadership savvy and teamwork. Improving social and emotional intelligence skills such as these can lead to improved recruitment, engagement, retention, customer service, productivity and financial results.
Used poorly, assessments can be a waste of time and money.
If your organization uses assessments, consider the following tips and reminders to make it worthwhile:
1. Be clear on why you’re using the assessment. Do you want to…
- Assess the fit of candidates you are hiring into key roles?
- Help up-and-coming leaders better understand and leverage their strengths and preferred style?
- Help underperforming teams improve their effectiveness?
Are you on the hook to fill an hour at your next leadership team meeting? Considering a team-building assessment because you’re not sure what else to do?
Not so great – unless you can turn that time into something strategic.
2. Integrate assessments across talent acquisition, development and management.
Do leaders of training and leadership development know what assessments recruiting is using, and vice versa? If an assessment is part of one leadership course, e.g., do other training courses anchor back to it? Does your performance management process include individual development planning which incorporates this assessment? And do team-leaders know how they can leverage this assessment in their team effectiveness efforts?
3. Make sure individuals understand and apply their assessment results.
You will not benefit organizationally from these assessments unless people benefit individually.
- Give people good training by expert trainers – especially when initially introducing the assessment into the organization.
- Emphasize action planning. Include a focus in training and process steps. Provide group or one-to-one coaching sessions to further improve action plans.
- Provide targeted follow-up coaching. More and more organizations, e.g., are using executive coaches to accelerate the development of leaders. The coaching process typically begins with 360 feedback and style assessments and action planning. Regular discussions over 6-12 months to apply learnings and practice new behaviors help the leader achieve the changes and goals identified.
- Inform and encourage supervisors and mentors to reinforce the learning and action plans coming out of a person’s assessment. Tell the person’s manager or mentor to ask the person to share lessons learned and follow through actions planned. And encourage the person and her manager to include specific actions into broader annual individual performance plans.
4. Use a few targeted assessments consistently over time for specific purposes across the organization.
This way, more people learn the “common language,” teach each other, share success stories and influence the culture.
5. Don’t get stuck on just one assessment.
There’s no assessment that is the be-all-end-all solution for all time. When an assessment you’ve been using has served its useful life, reevaluate your objectives and consider using a new assessment – or not.
Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. A leadership consultant and coach for over 15 years, he is experienced in using a variety of assessments and other tools to helps leaders and their organizations achieve effective relationships and results that matter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.