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Professional Assessments: Opening the Door to Insight & Action

Tuesday, August 04, 2020 7:53 AM | Jan Szmanda

By: Jon Zulawski

Professional assessments can and ought to be a key element of any comprehensive talent development and optimization strategy. Obtaining organizational buy-in, however, is not always an easy task. The adoption of professional assessments appropriate to meet the defined need is often stymied by concerns related to complexity and cognitive load, cost, and a bias against reliance on qualitative data. Talent professionals who develop a keen understanding of how to use professional assessments effectively can position themselves to overcome this challenge and thereby increase the effectiveness of their talent development interventions.

I often speak with talent development professionals whose organizations are resistant to taking on the work of implementing a talent strategy that incorporates professional assessments. The most common refrains express concerns about “survey fatigue” or insist that “now is not the right time” to roll out an org-wide assessment because of ongoing organizational change or stress. This speaks to the need to ensure the correct assessments are being used to accomplish the desired purpose. When an assessment can be positioned as integral to the success of larger organizational strategic objectives, organizational leaders are more likely to provide access to sufficient organizational bandwidth and commitment.

Another common (and understandable!) objection to adopting or expanding the use of professional assessments it the upfront cost. One talent development leader I spoke with recently had been challenged by her organization to help managers and supervisors adapt to organizational changes resulting from the pandemic. The organization had gone through a painful round of layoffs and restructuring, and new teams were coming together under a cloud of uncertainty. This leader worked to develop a strategy to provide some quick wins and immediate support to these new teams, and part of that strategy involved assessing the management style of the individual supervisors in relation to the preferred communication styles of the members of their teams.

There was, of course, an associated cost, but this leader was able to obtain the support and funding she needed to implement the strategy. When I asked her how she “sold” senior leaders on the idea, she explained that instead of describing the assessment as part of the output of her approach, she positioned it as a necessary input to determine the specific needs of the individual supervisors and their teams. The output, then, was the coaching and support that each supervisor received that was tailored to their specific development opportunities. She went on to explain that under other circumstances, she may have adopted a different approach, but in this case, she was able to use assessments to personalize and target the subsequent support she and her team went on to successfully provide.

On August 23, please join us for “Professional Assessments: Opening the Door to Insight & Action”. We’ll dive further into how different types of assessments can be used to drive your organization forward, how you can position assessments to obtain organizational buy-in and support, and how to use the data gleaned from assessments to inform your talent development strategy.

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