"Assessments are hot right now in NZ, with Sheffield fielding more enquiries about simulation exercises, 360s, personality and ability assessments, competency-based interviews and team surveys.
With the pressure on to improve leadership capability and to engage and retain staff, that’s probably not surprising and we see this as a positive trend.
Read on to hear why organisations and individuals are looking for better assessment data to support development, selection and culture." - Steffan Brunner, Associate Director and Leadership Development Practice Lead
It's a question we get all the time: "Why do a leadership assessment?" Think of it this way: Most companies don't make expensive choices without data. So why would you do it with your leadership?
Data helps us make objective decisions, without relying too much on emotions. Companies must usually justify their investments through a decision-making process.
Consider that pilots spend hours in simulations before their first flight. And before you can fly a plane, you must pass rigorous testing and assessments. If you can’t prove your fitness to fly, you don’t earn your license. The training and assessment process is rigorous because even a single misstep can have severe implications.
Leadership assessments should be a rich experience that benefits both the leader and the company.
Think of assessments as a flight simulation or audition. It’s a process to make sure the leadership candidate is ready for the job ahead, understanding what strengths they’ll bring with them as well as the areas they’ll need extra developmental support. An assessment gives the participant objective unbiased feedback about whether they are ready to perform on the job. Reviewing the results with the participant tells them where to focus their development efforts in order to improve.
Companies use this data in a wide range of ways. Some companies use it to create objectivity in hiring and promotion decisions. Others use the data to identify candidates for high-potential pools or to guide succession planning decisions.
Data helps lead development discussions with individual leaders and personalize their development plans.
Data provides insight into their behavioral strengths and areas for development. It also reveals personality traits that could enable or derail future success. This self-awareness can deeply impact a leader’s career, helping them be effective in their current and future roles.
Group data from an assessment tool is incredibly powerful. As you review strengths and weaknesses, you may see “hot spots” where many leaders struggle with similar challenges. They need your help, and you have an opportunity to plan group development opportunities for them. You may also see how strengths and gaps align to support or undermine your company’s business strategy.
Not all assessments are created equal
Assessments provide information about individual candidates, but the same assessment won't work for every need. You must find the right fit. For example, 360-degree feedback won't identify leadership potential or readiness for the next role. That'd be like blacking out your windshield and relying solely on rear view mirrors to drive on the highway. It just doesn't work and, really, makes no sense.
It's about context. The right assessment type helps decision makers understand if candidates can actually do the job. It highlights their strengths, exposes where they need to improve, and whether their personal disposition makes them a good fit.
Here’s an overview of different types of assessments you can use, and the data it provides:
- Self-Assessment provides an analysis of one's own goals, interests, skills, and experience. It could be used to personalize a training program to better understand participant needs. Self-assessments can also be used as knowledge checks.
- Leadership Test is a series of questions (usually closed-ended) designed to gather data on a leader’s knowledge, judgment, and/or preferences. Because they are online, fully automated, and easy to scale, these tests are often used to screen or shortlist a group of individuals.
- 360-Degree Feedback, also known as a multi-rater assessment, provides feedback from subordinates, colleagues, and supervisors. It also includes a self-assessment.
- Behavioral Interviewing focuses on past experiences by asking candidates specific questions about past performance. Interviewers collect data on behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities. Candidates describe a situation or task, their actions, and the results. Once completed, hiring managers compare the examples candidates provide against job requirements.
- Interview-Based Assessment with Business Case happens during a structured interview with a candidate using a business case as the platform. The interviewer determines strengths and gaps. The business case provides additional insight.
- Day-in-the-Life Assessments immerse candidates in a role at a fictitious company for up to a day. They require participants to manage emails, meetings, and other role-specific tasks. The experience includes exercises like analysis and decision making, leadership coaching, and partnering.
- Personality Tests involve a leader responding to a series of statements related to their style and preferences, usually delivered online or as a questionnaire. The goal is for participants to provide quick answers based on their immediate reactions to questions to get an accurate picture of their natural characteristics, motivations, and tendencies.
- Continuous Feedback provides leaders with frequent information about their performance from their managers, colleagues, and team members on an ongoing basis. The ongoing nature of continuous feedback is the critical ingredient most often missing for leaders as they focus on changing old habits or making new ones.