Author: Lisa R. Delman
For the past six years, I have had the opportunity as a professor
and facilitator to deliver all types of assessments to my students
and participants in workshops. Though some assessments are
definitely more useful than others, I have learned to appreciate
the incredible value of working with quantitative and qualitative
information to achieve extraordinary outcomes for participants.
This was not always the case. When I was working at my old company, I was handed the results of a well-known assessment tool with little explanation as to their meaning. The tool looked at various aspects of my personality; however, I was left hanging because no one explained how the results could be of use to me. I wrote off the exercise as a waste of time because the data didn’t relate to my job responsibilities. I put the report in a desk drawer and never looked at it again.
It turns that this is a popular complaint from many people required to take assessments or profiles in school or the workplace. Common complaints include:
• “The results do not exactly match who I am.”
• “I do not agree with some of the results.”
• “I need more explanation to understand how I can apply the information to my current accountabilities.”
A participant from one of my workshops mentioned that her company decided to use assessments as its main hiring guide for a certain period of time. This did not bring good results. The company found that people who were hired based mainly on assessment results did not stay at the company for long, whereas employees hired based mainly on an interviewing process without assessments seemed more committed to the
company. The company chose to nix assessments during its hiring practice.
My assumption here: There was little training on how to work with assessments. Assessments can provide valuable information, but the key is to take that to the next level of productivity with effective dialogue. It is the only way to truly understand the content from an insightful point of view.
Three mindful perspectives to get the most out of assessments:
Focus on assessments as dialogue starters, not diagnostic
tools. Use research-based information as a secondary source, with dialogue as a primary source to achieve maximum results. Do not accept any assessment information as the ultimate truth about a person. If you are using assessments during interviews, make sure to use the information as a starting point to dig
deeper. For a workshop, follow each explanation of a report with examples and exercises, so the participants can create the most value for themselves.
Listen for insightful commentary. Have you ever been given information, yet walked away feeling you have not learned how it applies to you? Content from quality assessments is valuable only if we can demonstrate how it can be applied in an effective way for an individual. Delivering information with participant
feedback in mind is of utmost importance. Too often, we are so focused on delivering the information that
we forget that the most relevant data is in the active process of listening. Whether you are working with an individual or a group, sharing the experience of the information is what counts the
most. Employ listening principles and crucial questions for effective feedback.
Plan action steps. Let’s face it. Companies want successful outcomes to the bottom line. To suggest assessments without follow-up only produces half the story. Results happen when our objectives are consistent with action plans. Imagine losing weight without an action plan that includes exercises and food intake goals. Imagine wanting to master your time without a calendar. To get the most out of any assessment, an action plan is essential.
• Create one to three strategies with each individual that is
relevant to job performance and company or department
• Create action steps for each strategy keeping the objectives of
the company in mind, and insist on putting steps on a
calendar to ensure structure.
• Have each participant choose a resource and mentor for
follow-up. Having the participant choose a leader,
manager, or buddy helps them to stay on track.
• Addressing these mindful perspectives and best practices will
create insightful content and valuable learning experiences from
both a facilitator and learner perspective.
Some beneficial and profitable tips to remember:
• Creating a context for information is crucial to the effectiveness
of the content.
• Information without dialogue is like a fish without water.
• Utilizing a combination of strategy and spontaneity with
information will produce the best outcomes.
Published in © 2013 ASTD, Links.