Scenario 1: Employees from a large, cross-functional team were invited to participate in a self-assessment tool to help them identify and further develop their natural strengths. The groups’ “top strengths” were then plotted on a comparative report, which generated great discussion among the team. Individuals could choose to share more about their results, but were not required to do so. There was constructive dialogue among the group that led to an increased understanding of the teams’ strengths, while personal boundaries were respected.
Scenario 2: A senior leader was looking for greater insight to help him assess and improve his leadership effectiveness with his team, his manager, and his colleagues. A 360-degree assessment tool was selected, the leader and his boss identified and agreed upon those who would provide feedback, and the instrument was launched with clear participant instructions for completion. Early on, it was made clear to everyone involved that the feedback would remain private to the leader only. What participants were provided was the leader’s resulting action plan detailing his developmental goals based on the feedback he’d received.
Scenario 3: Several individuals, both internal employees and external candidates, were vying for a plum executive level leadership role in the organization. As part of the selection process, final candidates were asked to complete an assessment of leadership potential, the results of which would be shared among the selection team as one aspect of the candidates’ professional profile. The scored results and comments were not shared with the candidates or feedback participants; rather, customized development guides were provided to each candidate based on their collective feedback.
Clarity is the Key
Regardless of the type of assessment or delivery mechanism, the most successful employee assessment processes are introduced to employees with clarity and transparent communication to address the issue of ownership and visibility before any tools are launched. Without clear guidance and direction setting up front, employees may come to view assessments as a stealth mission intended to underscore or document performance improvement needs, disciplinary actions or stack ranking for workforce reductions. No one likes surprises, and misguided or misinterpreted outcomes will only leave people feeling dissatisfied with the process and cynical of assessment opportunities in the future. Lack of transparency hinders the organization’s ability to create a feedback-rich culture.
No one wants that, especially organizations banking on growth through talent development investments.