Choosing the right assessment for building highly effective teams

A survey which monitors trends in the use of psychometric assessments, the International HR Survey by cut-e (2013) revealed that an increasing number of organisations rely on psychometric assessments as talent management decision-making tools. Insights from this survey suggest that these assessment tools are invaluable for organisations as they provide them with a competitive edge. However, as attested by leading test publishers such as Saville Consulting and cut-e, assessments are only powerful if they are valid.

A common costly mistake talent management decision makers engage in when investing in an assessment is deciding on one that is either contextually inappropriate or unreliable. Further to this, because the assessment test market includes a number of companies who publish tests which lack scientific validity and reliability it is imperative to understand how to go about choosing an assessment which will yield the desired outcomes.

In this article, we share two points which can help in choosing the right assessment and we use the example of building highly effective teams to demonstrate.
As a first point of consideration, conducting careful research on the company that publishes the assessment and the test itself ensures that assessments that don’t meet criteria for scientific soundness are avoided. A reputable test provider will be able to provide satisfactory answers regarding the tests consistency as a measure, it’s appropriateness for the target audience as well as the reliability of its method of evaluation and scoring for the purpose for which the test will be used. Information of this nature provides a good indication of whether the test is well-constructed and is therefore a good investment.

As a second point, we use the topic of building highly effective teams as an example to share best practice on how to choose the right assessment. Dumaine, Brian, Fortune (1994) describe teams as a major innovation in the organization of work. Similar sentiments are resonated by scholars, businessmen and writers alike. In his best-selling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002), Patrick Lencioni opens by saying “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” The shift that organisations are making from individual centered workforces to team oriented work has implications for how organisations transition and build capability in the new world of work.

When deciding on an assessment for team building purposes, key considerations include attaining answers to questions such as:

• Does the assessment provide clear feedback on the role preferences in the team?
• Can it be used to build a performance driven culture by capitalising on the strengths of the group?
• Does the assessment allow for maximizing the dynamics within the existing team?
• Does it facilitate problem solving both within and across teams and the identification of blockages and barriers to success while further providing a platform for action planning?
• Is the report format simple enough to understand yet does it provide sufficient detail that looks at the contrasts between the most and least preferred roles and associated behaviors?
• Does the report provide advisory points on the potential contribution to enhance team performance?

In the above example, choosing an assessment that answers all of the questions posed would yield benefits such as the development of balanced teams who would be able to deliver all the key components of effective team work; the development of a performance culture in which teams are supportive of colleagues thus driving high achievement; the building of teams who can make change happen; as well as the development of a platform for effective problem solving and conflict management among team members.
The above suggestions can result in better decision-making when selecting an assessment. See an example report of an assessment for building teams developed by Saville Consulting here

November 12, 2015