Achieve Greatness with Employment Testing and Assessments

by Dave Goranson
Goranson Consulting, Inc.

Today’s business world is more complex, stressful and challenging than perhaps any time in history. It certainly is within my own lifetime. We are being asked to continually watch the bottom line more than ever while constantly trying to maintain and increase revenues. Fear is running rampant. With that, the challenges of managing, hiring and developing people in the workplace can be almost overwhelming at times.

A few key questions I am asked constantly in my business as an employee performance expert and professional development coach are as follows:

  • “Whatever happened to the person I thought I hired?”
  • “What has happened to my once star performer? They used to be doing so great!” 
  • “How do I figure out what has happened and what to do to turn this situation around?”

Well, in addition to spending some more one-on-one time with them, the best and simplest way to eliminate much of the guesswork is to start utilizing more testing and assessments. I have used them for years, both as a pre-employment selection tool and as a succession tool, coaching and development guide, and team-building instrument.

First, let’s address the why.

Why Use Assessments?
The use of testing and assessments today is crucial in making informed hiring decisions. There are more people than ever in the job market, applying for fewer jobs than we have seen for decades. It only makes sense to slow down, establish some guidelines for employment screening and selection, and explore all sides of a person before placing him or her onto your already lean teams. Now more than ever, it may not be possible to remedy a hiring mistake by replacing a new worker, which means others will have to pick up the slack. Not good!

Assessments are also critical and extremely valuable in better understanding what the makeup of your team is today. What are their real, as opposed to perceived, strengths? What are the seeming weaknesses, or as I prefer to call them, opportunities for growth and development? That really is the case most often when approached with real data and reliable information to help cut to the chase and focus on real skills, styles, behaviors and interests. It can really impact morale, productivity and engagement in the workforce!

Understanding the People You Manage
Another great place to start attacking this challenge is by first gaining a better understanding of the people you manage. In Working Knowledge, a publication of the Harvard Business School, Marcus Buckingham wrote, “Average managers treat all their employees the same. Great managers discover each individual’s unique talents and bring these to the surface so everyone wins.” I could not agree more! “But, how do I accomplish this?” one might ask.

Fortunately, there are many tools available to help managers discover their team members’ unique talents. To truly understand the people you manage, it would be beneficial to discover not just how a person learns, but how quickly they learn. And wouldn’t it be invaluable to know something about their key behavioral traits, such as how long this person can work without a break before the quality of their work suffers? And we might want to be sure to pay attention to their occupational interests as well. If a worker’s interests really don’t match the job, then disinterest and decreased performance, eventually leading to turnover, will result.

Most managers don’t have the time or expertise to accurately appraise all of these aspects of their people one by one. However, a valid, “whole-person” assessment can give a very accurate picture of this type of information in a very short time. Understanding the people you manage is almost impossible without something besides biased, one-person observations. But, these observations, in conjunction with valid, reliable assessment tools, can give managers all the information they need to meet Buckingham’s goal of “everyone wins.”

Clearly, an essential ingredient for making “people decisions” has been missing from the formula. The use of assessments has become essential to employers who want to put the right people in the right jobs, provide employees with effective training and help managers become more effective leaders.

The use of assessments has resulted in extraordinary increases in productivity while reducing employee relations problems, employee turnover, stress, tension and overall human resources expenses. iBi

Dave Goranson is founder of Goranson Consulting, Inc., providing consultative services on selection processes, recruitment strategies, placement, succession management, employee development and coaching.


» Reasons to Use Assessments for Hiring

  • 1 out of 3 businesses will be sued over an employment issue.
  • 2 out of 3 new hires will prove to be mistakes within the first year.
  • 2 out of 3 employees would rather work somewhere else.
  • 9 out of 10 employees will “exaggerate” during an interview.
  • Most hiring decisions are made in haste—during the first 5 minutes of an interview.
  • Turnover costs thousands of dollars for every departing employee.
  • 80 percent of employee turnover is avoidable.

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