I was talking “leadership assessment” with two colleagues the other day. Both are employed by large organizations well-known for their people development practices. We were exploring the merits of assessing for leadership qualities, both as a pre-employment screening tool and for development purposes after the leader is hired. Not surprisingly, there were varying opinions—which assessments were the “best”, how to administer them and so on.
Here’s a part of the conversation that stands out for me:
Should internal employees (from Human Resources or Training and Development) deliver developmental feedback based on the assessment results?
There were two schools of thought:
- Yes, of course. My staff is very professional and highly skilled at giving this type of feedback.
- Maybe not. There’s skepticism about the feedback process— people in our company feel this type of activity is best left to corporate psychologists.
As we explored this topic, a few key take-aways emerged:
- No winging it allowed. If a company is going to expect its internal staff to deliver this type of developmental feedback, then it should also invest the proper time training its employees in the proper coaching delivery methods. Additionally, reputable publishers of assessments offer certifications; companies should also ensure that employees have this training as well.
- Organizational culture plays a part. In addition to determining which internal employees might be suited to act as coaches, the company should also overlay its corporate culture onto the process. Some companies are into the do-it-yourself model of professional development, others prefer to seek assistance from outside experts.
- If it’s an executive being coached, go peer-to-peer. In most cases, this means seeking outside expertise to deliver the feedback. I have seen cases where a very well-respected senior-level manager has been trusted to give feedback to executives and it’s worked well. This is not the norm, however.
As we wrapped up our conversation, we agreed on one thing: no matter the tool or the process, great care should be taken with the use of leadership assessments. It’s peoples’ careers we’re talking about.
- What have you experienced with leadership assessment tools—either as a feedback coach, or as the feedback recipient?
- What’s worked well, and what could use improvement?
Photo credit: istockphoto.com © Robyn Mackenzie
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