Using assessments for development is a critical component in developing your workforce. These types of assessments can be used in a variety of capacities, including preparing for succession planning, identifying employees fit for promotion, or providing coaching and feedback in order to foster and create a more productive employee.
Below, we’ve laid a basic groundwork for how to best use assessment results for development, along with some tips and tricks to follow.
Review the results and identify a few strength areas and a few opportunities for improvement
After your employee has taken the assessment, but before your discussion session, make sure to thoroughly review the employee’s assessment report and identify a few competency areas in which he or she excels and a few areas where he or she could improve (we recommend at most two-to-three areas for each).
Compare the assessment results with the employee’s observable behaviors. Do you observe behaviors that are in line with the competencies the employee scored well on? Is the same true for the areas in which the employee was deficient? Make sure everything adds up and make it a point to talk things over with your employee if they don’t. You want to get the whole picture.
Structure your feedback session
Make sure to have an outline for the flow of your discussion in order to maximize the results of the exchange. Make the most of this opportunity for development by having a clear idea of where the discussion is heading. Own the conversation.
Prepare to have at least two action step ideas or goals for your employee to implement moving forward. What steps can the employee take to improve his or her performance? You’ll want to have a good idea of what action steps could be taken when you reach that portion of the discussion with the employee later on.
Implement the discussion
Before you begin the real bulk of the discussion, provide your employee with an overview of the process you are about to begin. Make sure you are on the same page in regards to what is being accomplished; this is a development discussion, not a discussion about the employee’s termination.
Start off with the positives. Focus on the two-to-three areas in which the employee really excelled. Ask the individual whether he or she agrees and to offer some behavioral examples that support this. Next, discuss the areas the employee should focus on. Provide observations you’ve gathered from his or her performance to provide support for these improvement areas.
Focus on moving forward
This is the most important step. First, provide the individual with an IDP document (Individualized Development Plan). Work together with the employee to identify goals and desired outcomes and to discuss some of the action steps you’ve prepared for each competency area where an improvement opportunity exists. Focus on what the employee’s next steps will be to becoming a better, more productive member of your workforce. Keep in mind that the goals and outcomes should be developed together – not simply dictated to the employee. This is key for buy-in.
Now that you know how to use assessments results for development, follow these tips and tricks to make your process that much smoother:
Make sure to begin with the positives
Some employees just won’t be open to criticism. To counter this, make sure to get off on the right foot and focus first on the individual’s strengths. Key to countering any resistance is to get your employee to agree with the things he or she is good at. Then, when the time comes to discuss the individual’s weaknesses, he or she will be more inclined to take ownership over those areas as well.
Focus on relative strengths and weaknesses
Certain employees may not score well on many of the competencies that we tested for. In these cases, focus on the employees relative strengths (even if he or she still didn’t score that high on those particular areas). What 2-3 things did the employee score best on? It is important not to give the individual 8 or 9 opportunities for improvement, even if they did score low on 8 or 9 areas. Doing this will only discourage your employee.
Allow the employee to be open and honest
Ask the employee questions if you notice that he or she scored really well, or really poorly, on a competency that is inconsistent with his or her observable behaviors. Our assessments measure capabilities, not observable behaviors. If an employee scored poorly on a particular competency area, but doesn’t seem to behave in a way that supports this deficiency, he or she may be leveraging other strengths to cover this up. Make sure to get all of the facts when you’re having your discussion for the best outcome.