5 Assessment Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid Mistakes WEB SmlIn an earlier blog, the topic was mashing myths around assessments. This blog addresses another “M” word shadowing assessments and that is “mistakes.” To be more precise, mistakes in the use of assessments, mistakes in understanding the language in assessments, mistakes in using the information in assessments to its best advantage, and not using the right assessment.

Mistake #1: Failure to Use Assessments

The assessment industry is growing to $500M and organizations from around the globe and a variety of industries use assessments as a key part of their hiring process (Harrell, 2017). In addition, assessments provide help with development, succession planning, teambuilding, and coaching. The point is that assessments are a tool that can help an organization reduce employee turnover, develop, and lead organizations to a higher level of success. Therefore, using assessments as part of a process seems to make sense.

Mistake #2: Wrong Tool for the Wrong Job

Another mistake many users make is using the wrong assessment for the wrong job. Oftentimes, an administrator will find a favorite assessment and use it for hiring, development, succession planning, etc., etc. However, one size does not fit all. The Myers Briggs (MBTI) Assessment has been around a long time. However, the creation of it is questionable. While the instrument’s basis originates on the work of Carl Jung, the mother daughter team that gave it birth had no scientific background. The mother was a mystery writer and the idea for its creation came as she thought her daughter was too enamored with a certain young gentleman. What has that got to do with hiring? At any rate, if you do choose to use the MBTI, it has no validation for hiring. But then neither is a more credible instrument, the EQ. EQ instruments have a bias toward the older generation as they have a better handle on handling stressful situations – as in, been there, done that.

The other side of the Right Tool Right Job coin is that you may need to administer more than one assessment to gain a complete picture of a job candidate. For example, the DISC may indicate that someone does or does not fit the criteria for a good sales person, but the individual’s motivators may negate the idea either way. Some assessments are better for hiring, some for team building, and still others may serve best in the coaching arena. Check with your instrument provider to be sure you’re using the right tool for the right job.

Mistake #3 The Right Interpreter

You don’t have to be a trained psychologist to interpret most assessments. Having said that, there are nuances in an assessment report that may need a deeper look by a consultant who has the training to decipher deeper meanings.  Another choice is to have your assessment provider certify members of your staff to do that or you might partner with your provider to conduct debriefs. Remember that group debriefs are just as effective as individual debriefs. Of course, you will need to offer some one-on-one options to those who are shy about speaking up about something in their assessment report in front of a group of their peers.

Mistake #4 Using the Information

There can be a lot of information to process, particularly in a package of assessments. Therefore, it’s important to focus on the most important points a few at a time. The biggest mistake is to put the assessment in a drawer and forget about it. For example, one of the main ideas in the DISC assessment is to understand our behaviors, the behaviors of others, and then adapt our behaviors to that of others when we are working on a project together. Working with a client, recently, he would spend a lot of time complaining about how his boss isn’t interested in hearing details. Finally, the client got to the point that he would say, “He doesn’t want to hear it, so I don’t care anymore.” The client is not understanding the adapting part. The client is a person who loves detail, his boss hates detail. The client needs to adapt his communication style to give his boss the most important information in the quickest manner possible – in other words, be brief and be gone. As soon as the client fully understands this and takes this information from the assessment report and implements it, he will experience far less frustration.

Mistake # 5 All Assessments are the Same

This is a huge mistake. Unfortunately, the creator of the DISC Profile, William Marston, did not patent his instrument. Therefore, there are many different models and even more unfortunate is the fact that some are not worth the investment. Be sure any instruments are valid, reliable, and scientifically based, delivering what you are paying for. In addition, understand what an assessment is delivering. For example, in the case of the DISC, this tool measures common behavioral tendencies, not skills.

Avoiding these mistakes will help you make better hiring decisions to lower turnover, reduce conflict, build more effective leaders for tomorrow, and keep the bottom line in the black.

Thank you for reading this blog. For a no obligation discussion about how you can best use assessments to boost your bottom line, call 404-320-7834 today, or Let's get started.

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Harrell, E. (March/April 2017) A Brief History of Personality Tests. HBR
Laffoley, T. (2016) Making Sense of Assessments in the Workplace. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.