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Do You Know Who’s On Your Bus Or Are You Guessing?

As Jim Collins famously advises in his book Good to Great: “It is better to first get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats, and then figure out where to drive.” Assessments help organizations follow this wisdom by taking the guesswork out of hiring. But many companies aren’t getting full value from these tools that provide accurate and reliable data for all aspects of talent planning, fit, performance, and engagement. When it comes to driving your business, wouldn’t you rather predict than guess?

We’ve learned a lot in recent years about the relationship between employee engagement and business success. And we’ve seen the resulting competition in both creative and crazy perks meant to engage employees. As it turns out, a new ADP Research Institute study reported by Nicole Bendaly in Forbes, confirms that despite all the money companies are spending to increase employee engagement, engagement is dropping instead. In 2019, most employees are still simply showing up for work and not fully contributing. The study authors (Hayes, Chumney, Wright & Buckingham) suggest that organizations should focus on two things: teams and trust. They found that being on a team and trusting in team leaders are the most important influences on employee engagement. And that takes us back to the right people and how to find and keep them.

Assessments measure a variety of things, including employee abilities, motivations, interests, work styles, personality characteristics, personal values, and fit within your culture. Taken together, this data can predict a person’s behavior and likelihood to succeed, which helps ensure you have the right people in the right roles. Assessments will also help find the best team fit, keeping in mind that today’s teams are collaborative and often project based. When your employees understand their strengths and their role in creating value for the company—and they’re on a team they love working with—you’ve reached the pinnacle of engagement.

Assessing Is Not A “One Shot And You’re Done”

Assessments are used in selection, development, coaching, team effectiveness, and succession planning. Alongside things like behavioral interviewing, they are one of many tools in an effective hiring toolbox. To get the full benefits and insight from your assessments, we suggest you use them over the lifecycle of your employees. Here’s what that looks like:

  • Before selecting an assessment, be sure you understand the competencies that are most important for success in your company and in your culture. Are attitude and aptitude your most critical considerations, or are there specific skills that a candidate must have in order to succeed, but are difficult to teach?
  • While you may use assessments in your pre-hire selection process, take the extra step of revisiting and using those assessment results throughout an employee’s tenure with you. The results of a validated, predictive assessment don’t change over time, making the data useful over many years.
  • Use the pre-hire assessment to assess current employees as well, and for many reasons: It helps develop a benchmark for success; helps define current top performers, increasing the ability to duplicate those successful hires; maps your company’s strengths and gaps; helps build effective teams; and empowers leaders with a common language and tools to facilitate coaching and employee development.
  • In addition to evaluating cognitive ability, interests and motivations, and personality, predictive assessments should map an individual’s score against a customized benchmark based on what is required for success in a particular position and your unique company culture.
  • Engage candidates in the predictive assessment process by explaining how it helps both you and them understand whether there is a good fit in terms of specific job requirements and company culture. The process also provides candidates with insight about how they work and how to effectively engage with their teams and managers.
  • A few months after the hire, measure whether new employees actually performed successfully in the job and what factors contributed to their success or failure. Revisit the employee’s assessment to calibrate what factors could have predicted their successes or failures. Use what you learn to re-calibrate the benchmark that future hires will be evaluated against.
  • When you’re ready to consider an employee for a promotion, or even a lateral move to a different team, consult the assessment results to understand how well that person will thrive in the new role or environment, as well as areas of opportunity where some additional coaching may be needed to help them succeed.

The benefits of using assessments are broad and deep: accuracy in hiring decisions, reduced turnover, increased engagement and resulting productivity, greater alignment between talent and business goals, more confident decision-making, more effective succession planning and team building, better communications, less conflict, better performance—and that’s just a start. The wheels of your bus go much faster and smoother when they run on data. Use assessments wherever you can, or risk a flat tire.

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