Assessment Centres: The value of client partnerships
The power of actively involving senior and line-manager leaders within the business
It can take many years, and countless ‘lessons’ for managers to develop a sound ability to objectively assess the performance of their team members. This month, Senior Consultant Greg Harris, discusses the way involvement in Assessment and Development Centres can richly benefit both participant and their supporting managers.
Over recent years there has been a steady and progressive ground swell towards the effective use of Assessment and Development Centres (A&DC’s). Clearly, the benefits of such an exercise are to generate enormous insight about participants with respect to their work style and leadership ability. Such an activity takes assessment to another level of understanding about people; beyond self reporting measures, profiling, 360s and so on. What may take months, to learn about participant strengths and development areas, can be captured accurately within a day. Naturally this positions a business extremely well to make selection and succession planning decisions with confidence, and to know what areas to target in order to elevate individual performance.
Traditionally, DC’s are usually an integrated process or combination of simulations, profiling, psychometric assessment, presentations, and behavioural interviews that are conducted and assessed against defined competencies. Added to this model of assessment, however, HFL has discovered through partnering with its clients, the power of actively involving senior and line-manager leaders within the business. As senior people take on the role of assessor, the business generates new insights regarding the worth of the assessment procedure; and new opportunities are created for participants to grow and learn. Such an activity, therefore, promotes opportunities for management and participants alike to develop new skills and be challenged in a structured environment.
Typically, when centres are run on behalf of clients, the end result is an in-depth knowledge gained regarding the participants assessed. Employees receive feedback about their performance at the DC, which usually provides valuable details regarding less developed skills that could potentially be addressed within future individual development plans. The golden opportunity that is missed here, however, is that team members often learn about their strengths and development areas with minimal input from management within their own business. While the observations and assessment of participants will be a valid representation by independent assessors, there is a far greater opportunity to leverage such an activity further by having managers actively involved in the development initiative within a controlled setting.
For many managers, learning to objectively assess the performance of team members is often a product of trial and error over many years of management experience. Participating in a DC experience, however, exposes leaders to all the principles of effectively observing, recording, classifying, and evaluating behaviour to arrive at an accurate assessment of team member performance. In partnering with many national companies on such projects, HFL consistently hears from clients that being vigorously involved with DC projects provides a dual purpose for management: building skills in assessing behavioural performance, and seeing first-hand what areas their business needs to address, to improve and elevate future performance.
Involvement in DC’s requires a commitment in terms of time and effort for management, though the return on investment clearly justifies the time required to make the process successful. Time and time again, HFL has witnessed the return partnering clients have gained from partaking in this process. The clear advantage for partnering with HFL is that it enables management to effectively utilise what they have learnt about participants, and strive toward making both individual and department, more successful. Furthermore, the insights managers gain, naturally become key drivers for future change within the business.
Essentially, DC’s are an in-depth means of learning about individual performance and identifying potential leadership talent within an organisation. By partnering with a range of clients in conducting DC’s, over time HFL has identified a unique means of skilling management to learn and assess their own people more effectively. Enormous opportunities now exist for businesses to learn more about their people, and build capability through Management having a precise means of knowing exactly where the constraints are that may be inhibiting the improved or potential performance for their organisation.
Greg Harris was previously a Senior Consultant with HFL. He is a registered Psychologist and has worked alongside a plethora of blue-chip clients to implement Assessment and Development Centres throughout the region.