It’s time for a new approach to talent assessment
Use of psychological assessment, which includes ability and personality testing, is already widespread among medium and large businesses but is expected to climb to almost 90% in the coming years*.
Currently these techniques are mostly employed during the hiring process, as work-based assessments provide more objective data to inform key talent management decisions. However, organizations are increasingly using them to support talent development and organizational change, for example, reskilling workers to adapt to the new digitised workplace practices. If applied professionally, they can reduce subjectivity and a multitude of human biases in hiring, development, succession planning and other critical HR processes.
Rapid technological advances, changing client requirements and a more digitally curious HR profession means that the range of work-related assessments on offer is growing faster than ever. This is long overdue as many models are decades old and have changed very little since the last century. Using them is equivalent to using an abacus to calculate your household budget rather than the latest app. Yet it is not just about embracing innovative new technologies in assessment like gamification and machine-learning. The fundamental assumptions and models we use to assess and make important decisions about people’s futures need to shift significantly too.
Assessing and amplifying individuality and uniqueness
Assessments measuring personality and ability still tend to describe and measure human abilities and behaviour in narrow, limiting ways. Many widely used personality profiles pigeon-hole people into broad, oversimplified personality types, categories and even colours, e.g. extroverts versus introverts. This view of human behaviour at work is seductively simple. Although such over-generalized personality typing can provide organizations with a basic understanding of how people approach tasks and relate to others, their value is limited and can be counterproductive.
Building diverse and inclusive teams
In a world that increasingly recognizes the importance of discovering and leveraging diversity, these styles of assessment promote narrow thinking and stereotyping. They fail to reflect the countless unique differences that make us who we are, including the talents, values, and motivations we leverage to do our best work. Even when people have similar personality traits, the way they use these depends on their goals, motivations, values, and the way they interpret and respond to different situations. For organizations, attaining a good understanding of individuals’ talents and drivers not only helps them thrive but also enables building exceptional, peak-performing teams who successfully collaborate.
The next generation
Younger generations entering the workplace want their individuality and unique talents to be valued, appreciated and developed from the get-go. Any assessment that labels them too narrowly can quickly undermine their sense of identity, value, and psychological connection with the organization.
Many traditional assessments, which are still commonly used today, are unlikely to stand the test of time. To future-proof their organization and achieve better talent outcomes, HR leaders and professionals need to evaluate the rigour and relevance of their current assessment tools, including how well they are predicting performance and promoting a diverse, inclusive workplace. Those based on outdated thinking and questionable science should be replaced with scientifically validated, up-to-date tools that pinpoint people’s unique and diverse talents, abilities motivations and values.
*Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2015). Ace the Assessment. Harvard Business Review, July-August.
James Brook is an entrepreneur, business psychologist and established leadership and talent expert with more than 25 years’ experience in assessment, talent and leadership development and coaching. He created the next generation of talent assessment tool, TalentPredix™ to provide...