Why do some athletes, with superior physical tools, fail? Sometimes it’s injuries, but often it’s because of attitude and personality. Mike Trout of the Angels and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates are examples of supreme talents with a great work ethic and drive to succeed. Boy, it would be wonderful if a major league team could just have some indication, early in their career, whether a player has these traits and attributes...oh, wait – they do!
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. Similar tools are used with elite level Olympic-style athletes, and NFL teams.
It’s baseball season again and a good time to remind the skeptics that the shortstop for their favorite team likely took a behavioral assessment to help his team evaluate his potential and understand how to develop him. That’s right, in addition to measuring speed, strength, batting average, etc, major league teams use very specific behavioral assessments to understand player-prospects. Just like we always recommend the right assessment for the right situation, though - baseball teams use very specific tools. We would not, for instance, recommend using the Meyers-Briggs, Disc or Predictive Index (all fine tools when used for the right purpose), to choose a chief medical officer or nurse, and baseball teams would get nothing from a general personality test.
Often the difference is about what we call in sports, intangibles – what we call in the talent world, behavioral competencies. Baseball teams 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? To coaching? What about 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.
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!
Similarly, we use healthcare-specific and role-specific assessments to understand the specific behavioral traits that will predict success for senior leaders, physicians, nurses and front line staff.
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