Using assessments to profile future leaders

January 5, 2016 | By Tanja Nicholls

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Leadership skills and leadership requirements are evolving as it adapts to the spread of technological advancement and globalisation. Organisations therefore need to continually update their selection, development and succession planning processes as well as related HR strategies in order to choose the right people to lead the organisation into the future. Using reliable methodologies and practices which have been proven to predict performance outcomes are therefore key to profiling leadership capabilities for your organisation. Here are a few things to consider before using assessments to profile your future leaders:

1. Consider the prevailing leadership culture
An individuals’ experience of what constitutes leadership may be different at the various leadership levels. It is vital that you fully understand the leadership values that drive your organisation’s approach as well as what differentiates the leadership culture and values across the organisational tiers, in order to make an accurate judgement on the candidate’s suitability and fit within the organisation’s culture.

2. Conduct a contextual mapping exercise
Conducting a contextual mapping exercise allows key stakeholders to think about the environment they are operating in and how important different leadership styles are to achieving the organisational objectives. Furthermore, reflection on the current and future structure of the organisation allows decision making around vacancies, redundant roles, scares skills etc. Most importantly, during this exercise, the strategic imperatives of the organization is reviewed.

3. Draft a talent agenda
Identification of the capabilities across the entire organisation required to deliver on its strategic objectives and key business priorities are critical components in the Talent Agenda. Having a clear view on these requirements, enables you to budget and plan for the recruitment, retention, training and development your organisation really needs. Other aspects agreed to in defining this strategy are typically requirements for promotion, accurate evaluation of potential, and the transitional challenges individuals may face when moving between levels, opportunities for development, learning etc.

4. Design a capability framework
Developing a capability framework defines effective leadership specific to your organisation (in line with the strategic objectives and culture as defined). It allows you to assess, maintain, and monitor the knowledge, skills, and attributes of people in your organisation. The framework also allows you to measure current competency levels to make sure your employees have the expertise needed to add value to the organisation. Using a standardised framework such as this, enables decision makers to make informed decisions about talent recruitment, retention, and succession strategies.

5. Using assessments to profile future leaders
It is critical to use a scientific and objective approach in measuring the candidate-role fit as well as the predictive performance in line with the proficiency requirements for the role. This ensures that qualified decisions are made that will ensure business success. In conducting assessments, one should always make effective use of the organisation’s competency framework to ensure that the role and proficiency requirements are clear to accurately evaluate the extent to which a candidate fits the requirements of the role. In selecting an assessment battery, it is recommended that personality, values, cognitive and reasoning tests are combined with competency based exercises/simulations such as In-Baskets, Case Studies and more. The combination and integration of assessment results enhances the predictive validity of the assessment findings and have been proven to be a strong predictor of future performance.

While there are no hard and fast rules that can be universally applied to leadership assessments, considering the above will help to ensure an insightful and high impact experience for all parties. Cognadev can provide an end-to-end process aimed at fair and reliable assessment practices and methodology to ensure objective decision making relating to recruitment, promotions and development interventions. We also offer online assessment tools designed specifically to assess various aspects relating to the above mentioned assessment needs. Get in touch with the Cognadev team to find out more.