Four Symptoms Your Assessments are Obsolete

Computer circa 1910

Computer circa 1910

The popular assessment instruments for leaders have been useful for many years - or have they?  While they can look good, and give you the impression of deep insight, too many give unreliable insights.  Even those that have good science and practice behind them are often outdated.

How do you know when it's time to modernize your assessments? Here are four symptoms:

1. Too Long

Ever hear this complaint?  Most people don't want to complete long, tedious assessments, tests, or questionnaires.  The vast majority of self and multisource or 360 degree vendors require everyone to answer all questions.  But the new, computer-adaptive measurement approaches stop when they have enough information.  They are typically 50%-80% shorter than traditional computer-based or paper-and-pencil assessments. They are also more precise and accurate than other assessments when they are anchored on the latest meta-analyses that summarize the science in the area you're assessing.

2. Forget To Practice

Many great assessments also have well-written reports.  But too often, people forget about the report a week or two after they've read it.  Traditional approaches don't have a good way of helping people implement, even when a coach or a manager is not available.  Today's technology solves this problem.  With small "tweet" sized suggestions for what each person should practice, your mobile device suggests behaviors you should practice.  By scheduling when you want to practice, systems like LeaderAmp mass-personalize the best expert recommendations for stretch actions that are not too hard, or too easy but just right for you.

3.  Lack On-the-Job Support

Another challenge with traditional assessments is to know when people struggle to apply the insights to their development.  When they have a coach, only when they're with their coach, and by scheduling time in their calendar do they have tools to help them remember to practice, self-reflect, and journal about the lessons they learned from practice.  Today's technologies now give new forms of reminders about when and what to practice, but also when they should not forget to reflect on their learnings.  By speaking into their journal using a voice-to-text software like Siri, they are both developing themselves, and giving their coach an elegant window into their mind.  Coaches can then support, compliment or nudge via their mobile devices as appropriate.

4.  Pricey

In the past, assessments and coaching just didn't scale to large groups of employees globally.  Today's cloud/mobile technologies allow you to screen for the people who demonstrate their seriousness in applying artificially intelligent coaching to their job, and then support them via their cellphone, no matter where or when they need help.

Leaders as Olympic Athletes

The first Vietnamese Gold medalist, Hoang Xuan Vinh

The first Vietnamese Gold medalist, Hoang Xuan Vinh

In Rio, the top athletes from around the world are completing in the Olympics in Rio.  Would we really expect any athlete to win the gold without a great deal of serious practice? Why would something complicated like leadership be any different?

Like Olympians who relentlessly beat their own world records, great leaders pursue their own development as a life­long journey.  They practice nearly every day, to continually grow.  But before triggering the starting gun, leader development professionals must uncover the racers most capable and passionate about their career. This separates the leaders who just want to hang­out in a high potential club for the status, from those who are as serious about their self development as an Olympian. Computer-­adaptive assessments are to leader measurement what digital stopwatches are to sprinters - the most precise and accurate available.

But how do you make sure that the leaders who practice will follow through? Consider having each candidate literally sign a contract, promising to practice leader coaching exercises with their complete attention at least once per week. Like a swimmer in a time trial, leaders must agree to seek out new insights from each "lap" they take in their daily leadership tasks, and then make notes regarding the lessons they've learned in a digital journal. 

A leader's digital journal catalyzes two elements to the traditional leader development process. First, by having leaders use a digital journal every week, their personal coaches can proactively intervene without waiting for the next coaching session. Second, the digital aspect of the journal makes it easy to maintain a leader's confidential journal as private, while simultaneously identifying which leaders are not progressing. By following a framework that includes action learning and the latest coaching technology, leaders become more engaged in­­and accountable for ­­their own development.