Many companies think of employee assessments as performance management or recruiting and hiring tools. But this represents only a limited slice of the spectrum. Used properly and in the right circumstances, employee assessments can part of a powerful work toolkit, not just for evaluating job fit or lagging performance, but for helping people and teams work more effectively and accomplish their key business objectives.
How do you know when to bring in an employee assessment for your team or organization? Here are just a few of the signs that the time might be right:
1. A big change is coming.
Change management strategies are notorious for going off the rails. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the high failure rates of these initiatives, but a big issue is simply the fact that people don’t like change. And when there’s lack of buy-in for or outright resistance to the change, it’s hard to move forward.
Employee assessments can help those responsible for leading change and the employees themselves understand how different people respond to change. With that knowledge, leaders can adapt their communications strategies to acknowledge those perspectives and address the fears that are creating resistance. And employees gain new awareness to better self-manage their own mindset and response to change.
2. Performance reviews are being replaced by continuous feedback and coaching.
As we’ve written about before, the annual performance review is on the outs in many organizations and for good reason—it hasn’t delivered the expected benefits. In its place comes a greater emphasis on ongoing feedback and coaching. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to management, and this is particularly the case when it comes to in-the-moment feedback and coaching discussions.
Managers need to understand where their employees are “coming from” so that they can interact with each of them effectively, recognize what matters most to them in terms of their interests and development, and unleash their inner motivation. Assessments can provide the essential data managers need to do this. And if it’s an assessment that offers pair comparison data, it will provide even more value in terms of how to structure the conversations and what points to emphasize.
3. Employee engagement is a priority.
In addition to helping employees grow through coaching and feedback, managers play a pivotal role in employee engagement. Employee assessments can provide clues about how to best communicate with and inspire different employees, but it’s more than just that. They can also reveal untapped talents and, in some cases, job or responsibility mismatches. Managers often discover they have more (and different) strengths on their team than they had realized or that certain employees are struggling because they’re misaligned with the job’s tasks and processes. Even when it’s not feasible to redesign a job or restructure a department, assessment data can show where there are opportunities to adjust tasks or provide supporting resources that will set the employee up for success. It also opens the door for employees to take more ownership of their growth and careers.
4. You have a complex project on deck.
One of the things we’ve learned from our research is that when you’ve got a tough problem or complex business issue to address, diverse teams—particularly teams with a balance of cognitive diversity represented—are more effective and get better results. So a good employee assessment can help you assemble a diverse team that’s optimally designed for the specific business challenge.
But don’t just assume that you can bring this highly diverse group together and everything will go off without a hitch. Sharing and discussing assessment data and how the differences will contribute to achieving critical outcomes is essential, as is a leader who understands, values and encourages the diversity of perspectives and contributions. Top it off with application tools, and you’ll have a powerful recipe for team success.
5. You want to make creativity a core business competency.
In many companies, creativity and innovation responsibilities are relegated to a few specific departments or functions. This is a shame, because often the best ideas and solutions come from those who are closest to the problems, whether they’re the so-called creatives or not. Many people have decided that they’re just not creative, so they don’t “go there.” Or their ideas get ignored since they’re not officially sanctioned as part of the creative team. No matter how you look at it, the business loses out.
Unfortunately, some employee assessments can reinforce these views by pigeonholing or categorizing people as a fixed “type.” But creativity is a mental activity, which means anyone can tap into it and follow a process to spark new ideas and formulate workable solutions. With the right assessment, you can help all employees recognize what they bring to the creative process so that everyone can contribute to transforming the business.
This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value you can get from adopting the right employee assessments for your team or organization. So don’t limit your thinking to just recruiting and performance issues. There are a multitude of ways assessments can help you drive ongoing business results.
Not sure if you’ve got the right assessment for your needs? Check out this post to assess your assessments!