Mindset: One Size fits all?

A lot has been written about the need for organisations to deploy “best practice” assessment methods to maximise returns on investment. But should this really be the focus for talent management professionals? We think not.

The essential problem with a best practice approach is that people often believe there is only one “true” way to run an assessment. What this looks like, of course, varies by organisation and sometimes by individual too. Our argument is that we need to reframe our thinking to consider what is the right practice for a particular organisation.

A utility business we once worked with had a long history of best practice assessment. Thorough protocols were in place that linked to their competencies and values, including wide scale use of assessment or development centres for recruitment and promotion. Best practice suggests that these approaches should be deployed at all levels, however, there was a glass ceiling on the use of these processes at the Exco -2 level. Selection into these roles was much less transparent and was perceived as being down to a tap on the shoulder.

We were asked by the HRD to work with the Exco to introduce a rigorous process into these most senior levels. Through discussions with the Exco it became clear that they wanted an assessment process that was a better fit for senior levels. Whilst best practice would suggest that the assessment centre approach should be the way to go, right practice said otherwise. We worked to put in a robust two-person, three-hour interview process, supplemented by psychometrics. The response from the client – and candidates – has been exceptional and the process is seen as de-risking appointments.

Our advice to organisations and talent professionals is to be wary of consultants wanting to impose their own “best practice” models on your business. Make sure that the assessment approach moves your decision making forward and is aligned to your strategy, and models your values – aim for the right practice for your business.