September 11

Assessments you need to manage employees better


By Chuck Coker

You can only manage what you can measure.

With the increased emphasis on analytics, managers have learned it does not pay to enter any relationship or campaign without some sort of data about the decision at hand. As such, the use of assessment is commonplace in the vast majority of the companies we have surveyed over the past year.

From company to company you will find wide variations. Some use DISC or PIAV, others use Myers-Briggs, and there is no lack of organizations using Gallup or Wunderlich. With higher levels of sophistication, you can find tools like the TriMetrix, MMPI, California Psychological Indicator, and a myriad of others that will allow you to benchmark aspects of the needed skill sets.

As a matter of fact, if you check with your local library you can locate a book called Tests in Print which will list over 30,000 different measurement tools. There is no lack of validated instruments to measure the data you need measured. The ultimate level of sophistication is when assessment information is integrated with software that helps identify the appropriate work-related characteristics as well as direction for managing the individual’s uniqueness.

If your organization has been reluctant to take advantage of assessments, there are some things you might want to consider as you gauge your department and its human capital needs. Assessments are hardly a new concept; around 2400 B. C. Hippocrates stated that behaviors could be classified into four distinct types and could be measured.

Through the millennium these tests became more concise and accurate, eventually evolving into science in Great Britain and Germany around 1880, as experts like Wundt, Galton and Cattell moved from a subjective approach to a more precise one.

After psychological principles were validated around 1920, we saw further evolution into behavioral and value type assessments, based on work by people like Marsden, Spengler, Jung, Skinner, Myers, and Briggs. They were validated to assess and explain (in more actionable/applicable terms) the functional relations and judgments of an individual into processes and outcomes.

What this means to any leader is the ability to gain relevant insight into an individual’s behaviors, values, attributes and motivations immediately, without waiting 90 to 180 days. A leader can obtain significant awareness as to whether the person has the natural aptitude and ability to perform the work without undue stress.

Testing is the first step in optimizing virtually every aspect of life. We assess almost everything. Do we monitor our automobiles, websites, and statistics for our campaigns and even our own personal health through tests? We’ve learned that when we measure and understand the implications of our measurements, we can optimize the results and achieve a higher level of success.

If you are going to consider a way to maximize human capital investments in your marketing department this quote from Judith Dobrinski of Human Resources magazine should have an impact:

Testing is the best predictor of success . . . nothing else even comes close?

Selecting the assessments you really need

As you can see from our previous blog entries, three out of four marketing organizations (of all sizes) test for competence and character through skills, personality, and abilities assessments. The good news is that some of what you are looking for can be found in these assessments, but not all of it. You should not rely on a single off the shelf assessment, because you will not get all the information you need.

You must identify a battery of several tests to give you the depth of information necessary to make a good decision. Don’t believe one test will answer all your questions, any more than one type of marketing test will tell you everything you need about a buyer’s persona. Unfortunately, many organizations are not identifying critical components, which can result in employee turnover.

As the following chart illustrates, companies are relying on Skills, Personality, and Interest assessments. The truth is that half of the companies using assessments do not identify the most crucial information?

Does the person match the job??

Our survey indicates that about 40% of organizations take time to identify the key mental components related to their employees’ positions inside their unique organization. Is it any wonder that companies of all sizes have indicated turnover is an issue?

Too many companies try to detail a job and then fit people to those criteria, rather than understanding the individual and modifying the job description to maximize productivity. Our studies show that there is no correlation to performance the way most companies try to fit round pegs in square holes.

We will illustrate an objective, data-driven approach that will provide a framework for you to follow, beginning with the hiring process. We will illustrate that all managers need to measure is what is pertinent (based on the 4Cs) to:

  • tasks required of the position,

  • behavioral approach to task execution,

  • mindset used in task execution, and

  • ability to grow beyond the present tasks

Your next step will be to assess the individual’s skills and experience. Just because they have experience in the area you need, it does not mean they can perform the tasks at the level of competence required. Most organizations, according to our benchmark survey, prefer (to the greatest degree) skill testing as their first choice to ensure competence.

Next, you will want to identify how an individual must act, react, and respond in their work environment. The following is a sample behavioral and values questionnaire that is often completed by those managing and completing the tasks. The respondents will answer the questions based on how they see the job being performed.

Classify the key behaviors and values necessary from a Work Environment Study. The answers you receive from these studies will provide you with two more critical pieces of information. First, it will tell you HOW they prefer to behave in multiple work situations. Do they want complete or partial control? Will they be optimistic or pessimistic when approaching a challenge and those they work with? How will they approach the process, with questions or ideas? How analytical will they be during their work sessions and will they be more focused on questions than solutions?

Here is a checklist of 12 areas you need to be able to identify your candidates/employees, from the behavioral aspects of the work environment study:

  1. How adept at the analysis and maintenance of data?

  2. How competitive they are?

  3. How consistent they are?

  4. How well they convey a sincere interest in others (especially customers)?

  5. How well developed is their follow-up/follow-through?

  6. How good are they at following policies and procedures?

  7. How well do they maintain a friendly interface with others?

  8. How adept are they at multitasking and frequency of change?

  9. How organized are they?

  10. How people-oriented are they?

  11. How decisive and quick to respond are they?

  12. How versatile are they?


You may also like:

Take our Free Corporate Assessments

See All of Our Free Assessments

Learn more about our Organizational Development Consulting

About the author 

Chuck Coker

For more than 30 years, Chuck has focused his career on people's development. He has implemented proprietary Personal Formation, Human Capital, Talent Management, and incentive-based programs across a broad scope of Fortune Companies, regional organizations, and educational institutions.


employee assessments, human data

You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}