Assessment Tools Help Managers Go “Beyond the Gut” and the Cult of Personality
When you start a business, the passion and energy are usually palpable among the founders and early staff. The thrill of trying something new, being the underdog, and pushing towards success seem to be driven by a limitless fuel. You’re all drinking the same Kool-Aid, so assessment tools are probably far from everyone’s minds.
Fast-forward 10 years: Is your business the same? How much have you grown and expanded? Does the average employee still embody the values and mission established by the founders? Are they (the founders) still around? How has your industry evolved?
As a business leader, you could ask yourself these questions each year on the anniversary of your founding as a review of your business. Growth is usually the goal, but depending on factors such as the economy and state of your industry, you may actually want to contract your size and trim some fat, or change the business model in order to stay relevant in a changing marketplace.
And what about the health of your employees? What inspires, motivates, and drives them to perform at their very best? Did the last of the “old guard” of original members leave a legacy that closely resembled the initial charter and organizational dynamics, or is it a markedly different company?
The culture of a start-up is typically very different than an established organization. And as companies grow and age, they need to formalize their systems, policies, and processes. Human resources is one of the first areas to receive this attention, specifically compensation and benefits plans, hiring processes, and developmental and succession plans. One of the best investments a new HR director can make is in assessment tools to make the most of each hire and target existing employees’ specific developmental needs.
As an example, one company was struggling to increase retention, engagement, and performance among its employees. The 100-year old chemical manufacturer (with 10,000 employees across 40 countries) recognized that poor performance was due to many workers being in the wrong jobs and sought to identify the optimal job fit to reclaim peak performance and productivity.
The company already used a model for developing people based on “putting the right people in the right jobs, working on the right things.” They supplemented that process by using the ProfileXT® (PXT) with individual contributors in operations roles, team managers, and executive-level management. The assessment tool’s placement reports dovetail perfectly with the client’s goals by giving leaders an assessment of the employee’s thinking style, behavioral traits, and occupational interests, along with a percentage match to the company’s top performers.
According to the company, the PXT was attractive because a selection assessment tool was difficult to find. “We were most interested because it fit our current methodology of looking at top performers, it is behaviorally based, and it could also give input to coaching and development.”
The company, experienced at using different assessments and integrating them for its needs, sees the improvement curve rising with their use—especially at the convergence of assessments. They cited three specific ways that the ProfileXT®’s placement tool benefited the organization in its quest to identify internal talent:
1. By providing a clear picture of the candidates interviewed. “That gives greater insight when the hiring managers do not know the people. If I know how to read the PXT data, I can tell a couple of key things about you, which gives me a good idea of how you are going to do a job and what your interests are. So we are just getting a better feel of who our candidates are.”
2. By helping the new hires to become effective immediately. For those chosen for a job, managers can use the assessment tool in coaching, developing, and onboarding, so that the manager and the employee learn how to work better together more quickly, and the employee can be more effective in his job sooner.
3. By helping all workers understand themselves. “That matches our culture. Because we use a lot of assessments and we know how to read that data and apply it to their jobs, they get a better fit. It’s like baseball… the assessment helps us prove our batting average, when the ‘bat’ is high-performing new hires.” Assessments help create a language of understanding, and “that language is accepted in our organization.”
The ProfileXT® assessment tool is helping the company and its employees to rid themselves of the baggage of poor performance. Previously, managers often relied on the cult of personality when the time came to find an employee to fit a role, but using assessments allows them to be objective and make better decisions.
Few companies are lucky or disciplined enough to successfully hire employees the way they did when they first started. There’s no shame in using assessment tools and other devices to help your organization succeed—rather, it’s a sign of maturity.
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