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Even Professional Sports Teams Use Behavioral Assessments!

December 17, 2015


We’ve talked several times about how professional football teams spend time and money to evaluate talent, and we need to learn from them when it comes to screening candidates to find the ones that are most likely to succeed in your organization.

Now let’s make the analogy even more specific: Sports teams have a wealth of physical performance data on prospects. They know how fast they run, their height, weight and often have detailed performance data (think a baseball player’s minor league batting average or film on a college football player). They have extensive references from former coaches.126417957

We don’t often have this luxury, but assume that our “physical/performance” data is the resume. We know a physician or nurse trained at a top school. We can see a pattern of promotion. We can see a list of specific certifications. Perhaps we have a few useful references. If the candidate is from another part of our organization, we may have information on past performance. Unfortunately, we don’t have film on how they “played” for their last team.

I was fortunate last week to attend a baseball game at Wrigley Field (a wonderful experience and the Cubs won!). I was reading the game day program and saw an interesting article about how professional baseball teams don’t rely strictly on all the physical metrics and past performance data. They realize that all the physical tools in the world don’t guarantee success. Behavioral skills play a huge role. Does the player have the necessary drive? How will he respond to pressure? What about coaching? Work ethic? Discipline? These are organizations where the ability to identify and develop talent determines success or failure. Accordingly, they don’t leave this to chance. They use – surprise – valid and specific behavioral assessments

Tools like the Athlete Success Evaluation and the Baseball Athlete Success Evaluation were built by psychologists to measure the extent to which individuals possess the desirable mental characteristics of elite athletes. Professional sports teams – who value talent and performance above all else use them extensively.

I still find it interesting when healthcare recruiters and talent professionals question the value or predictive nature of well-designed behavioral assessments. Clinical psychologists use assessments to understand and treat patients. The military has used behavioral assessments for decades. Law enforcement uses psychological profiling. Psychology is a science and patterns of behavior are real. Expert psychologists can predict behavior based on assessments. We have reams of studies showing, for instance, that our tools improve the odds of selecting candidates with the attributes you desire. Need to help convince someone in your organization? Point to their favorite center fielder or shortstop and tell them that the team didn’t leave that player’s behavior to chance – they used a sport-specific behavioral assessment!

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.