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October 3, 2014

Tips for Using Assessments Effectively

Why should HR professionals use assessments?

There are many reasons why HR professionals should use assessments. There are also many types of assessments available to HR professionals, and it’s important to know when and why to use them, as well as how to use them effectively. First, we need to ascertain the Tips_for_using_assesments_effectivelyresponsibilities of HR before determining how and when to use assessments. Human Resources is expected to recruit “quality” employees, hire “quality” employees, train these “quality” employees; and lastly, evaluate these “quality” employees. HR is also responsible for developing the succession plans for their organizations, which requires high potential “quality” employees to fill positions left vacant by retiring employees or those being promoted.

Since we have no “HR Crystal Ball” and we cannot select these quality employees subjectively, we need professional assessments to help us make these important decisions. Let’s take a look at some the types of assessments available that would be excellent “objective” tools to assist us in our decision making process.

Recruiting and Hiring Process

There is no higher authority, in my opinion, on hiring high quality people than Dr. Bradford Smart, author of Topgrading. In his book he has numerous assessments for hiring “A”Players, including a Potentials in Management Scorecard, and a Hiring Success Scorecard. I love the original edition of his book. However, I also highly recommend his 3rd Edition: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance.

Success Planning Assessments

Before slotting potential candidates for senior management positions, you should probably consider using an assessment center to test the potential manager’s decision-making ability and critical thinking skills. Don’t overlook personality testing of your “Hi-Po’s”.  The DISC assessment helps determine ones’ personality profile quickly based on the candidate’s every day behavior towards others.  Personality assessments can identify the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as well as detrimental characteristics. Don’t forget the value of a 360 Degree Feedback evaluation also when considering junior managers for executive positions.

Performance Evaluations

Ensure that your job descriptions are specific and outline performance expectations for each job in your organization. Properly written job descriptions and performance evaluations that measure job performance based on specific standards such as outcomes, quality, cost and quantity are excellent assessment tools. One caveat though – you must train your managers in how to best use the performance evaluations. Ensure that your managers are taught how to perform “objective” evaluations free from bias and favoritism. 

Organizational Assessments

Organizational assessments are wonderful tools for evaluating areas of the organization to find out what works and what doesn't. These assessments, such as employee satisfaction surveys, are made to find out about the context in which individual employees do their jobs and how satisfied they are with their jobs and overall company performance. If you really want to learn how your employees feel about your organization, enroll in a Best Places to Work contest through your local chamber of commerce or business publication. You will receive invaluable information that you can use to assess the overall “quality” of your culture.

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Human Resources should evaluate organizational structure, workflow, outcomes and employee satisfaction overall in addition to individual employee performance. These tips for using assessments effectively will enable HR to enhance employee commitment and engagement.

Cynthia Thompson, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Cynthia Y. Thompson is Principal and Founder of The Thompson HR Firm, a human resources consulting company in Memphis, TN. She is a senior human resources executive with more than twenty years of human resources experience concentrated in publicly traded companies. She is also the Publisher/Editor of HR Professionals...

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