What Do We Do?

As anyone in my field can probably relate, I spend a lot of my time with friends and relatives answering the question “So, what is it that you do?” It recently occurred to me that when people ask that question perhaps they don’t really want to know what I do. Rather, they’re asking what my job achieves. They want to know how what I do is valuable.

A similar lack of understanding may explain why many organizations are hesitant to adopt talent assessment broadly, despite clear evidence demonstrating the efficacy of using sound assessment tools. Organizations understand what assessments do – they measure characteristics related to job performance. However, many people may struggle to understand the value of that information in the broader organizational landscape.

Assessments help organizations identify talent
Whether you are evaluating external candidates for hire, identifying internal candidates for high-potential programs, or searching for undiscovered talent in the organization to strengthen your leader bench, assessments provide information that is difficult, if not impossible, to gather any other way.

Assessments help organizations prepare talent for future roles and responsibilities
This may include onboarding and determining potential career paths for new talent, exploring individual contributors’ aspirations for and predilections toward leadership positions as well as performance risks that are likely to emerge when they are placed in leader roles, or helping middle managers ready themselves for the responsibilities and challenges of more strategic leader roles.

Assessments help organizations develop leaders
Assessments provide a mechanism to help leaders build strategic self-awareness. By reflecting on their personalities, leaders are able to (1) identify their inherent strengths and plan to leverage them, (2) discover blind spots and stress-induced derailers that may impede their success, and (3) leverage their team member’s strengths and talents to complement their own.

Assessments help organizations build and maintain effective teams
The first step to understanding a team is to understand its individual members and how they interact and work with one another. Assessments can be used to build a diverse team whose members’ strengths complement one another. In addition, by providing insight into how individuals approach problems, make decisions, and execute work, assessments can be used to help team members relate to one another, plan for how to best work together, and predict and proactively address potential interpersonal conflicts.

I’m certainly not claiming that assessments represent a cure-all for the many talent management issues that organizations face. However, when used consistently and responsibly, assessments can yield a significant return on investment in terms of improving talent decisions and enhancing talent development initiatives.

What have assessments done in your organization? What benefits have you achieved and what challenges did you face when implementing and using talent assessments? Please comment to share your thoughts and experiences!