Assessments: 4 Traps and 1 Truth

This is a series of extra discussions around an upcoming trU Tips related to using assessments in your business.  It will come out next week.  If you are interested in receiving this special trU Tips, please sign up for the mailing list here.

I am a big fan of using assessments (personality profiles like DiSC, Myers-Briggs, Birkman Method, etc.)  in business.  In working in and around dozens of start-ups/growth organizations, I see the pace and amount of work hindering the time needed to really get to know someone through a selection process.  Assessments do not replace that time, but help to start meaningful conversations around cultural fit, manageability, and onboarding that will be valuable.

There is the trap of being sold a solution vs making a good buying decision based on your situation and resources, so here are some things I have learned about the use of assessments in business.

Trap 1:  It will fix your selection issues: By nature, leaders want things fixed yesterday.  The biggest fix you can apply to your selection process is time and purposeful discussion to make sure you are getting the right person and actually leading the process as the hiring manager.  Assessments, used consistently for a period of time (6 months) will start to help, but it is not a quick fix.  It is an expensive band aid for a leader being too busy to talk to new people.

Trap 2:  Eventually you can do it yourself and you will not need me: True about 10% of the time.  For a very simple tool like DiSC yes, but plan on paying training $ every 1-2 years as your expert moves to other roles or gets busy.  Remember that to become an expert it takes 30+ assessments and doing them regularly (5-10 a month).  Much of the ‘expertise’ is also built from watching people work over a 1-2 year period after taking the assessment.  Some tools are so complex that it probably takes longer/more frequent work to be an expert.

Trap 3:  Ours is the best: It is important to believe that to sell things, and you will hear lots of great reasons to buy any tool.  In trU Tips #18 I will address ways to be a great buyer vs being sold on a solution that does not work.  If you are feeling the pain of a weak selection process, it is easy to buy the confidence of a good salesperson.

Trap 4:  You can also use it to help teams, leaders in transition, and other high risk/value (ROI) situations: Kind of true, but see Trap 2.  To make any action plan stick, will take outside coaching/consulting for 3-6 months after any session.  Probably worth it for leadership groups, but those costs should be part of the ROI discussion from the beginning.  The second mini-trap is thinking the HR leader can be this person.  They are too busy, too close to these people, and often not wired for this kind of work.

Truth:  It is better than nothing: This will not be part of a sales pitch, and since Brad Smart in his book Topgrading put the cost of a bad leadership hire at 14.6x annual earnings, making one better choice will probably help.  This will likely not appear in the sales presentation you receive (Imagine the tag line:  Your hiring process will suck less if you use this assessment 🙂 ), but it is the truth.

Do you have any other traps or tips to add based on your experience?