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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, and with me is my co-host and good friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm.
If we sound any different to you today, we are still in a shelter in place in Central Indiana, where both JoDee and I live, and so we’re recording remotely.
Our topic today is pre-employment assessments. HireVue issued a white paper in February 2019 entitled “The Next Generation of Assessments” that was written by three different people: Dr. Nathan Mondragon, Clemens Aichholzer, and Dr. Kiki Lautner. JoDee, I found this paper so interesting, because it gave us kind of a historical background on when assessments started, what’s happening in the landscape today. So I’d love to share a few of those insights.
First thing they said was that the whole concept of bringing assessments into the hiring process really became popular in the 1970s. I find that fascinating, because that was before even I was in HR! So I thought they, I thought they were around for a very long time. But really, the 1970s, that’s not that long ago, it’s in the last – within the last 50 years. And when they came in, what became very important, and I think all of us in the HR profession now really hang on to, is making sure that if you’re going to do an assessment, that it’s valid. And of course, the definition for validity as it relates to an assessment is that whatever instrument you’re using, it consistently measures what it is intended to do, or as these authors said, that the assessments are designed around specific jobs and job-related competencies.
Yeah, I think that’s really important for us to make sure for everything else we talk about on this podcast, or people get excited sometimes about, ooh, I want to try this assessment or that assessment, is to make sure it’s validated for their own organization and for the the positions that they’re hiring for. What – an assessment tool that might be good for one company might not be – even, even though the assessment itself might be validated, is it measuring what your company needs to measure?
Absolutely. So, most assessments, when they first came out in the 1970s, were done on-site, of course, at employers. They were usually written multiple choice questions. And then in the 1980s, people started getting – going through assessments, employers started offering them via automated phone recordings. I can remember that in the bank.
You can? Because I was gonna say –
Purple Ink: Yes!
– I don’t ever recall that.
Yeah, well you’re younger than me. That could be. So yes, you would actually call automated number, they would – a phone number, and you’d be asked these questions by a machine, and you would leave your answers. So I thought that was interesting. In the 1990s, employers started using computers, as we did in all aspects of our job, they started using them for assessments, and then eventually started putting these assessments over the internet so that people could do them in the privacy of their homes. By 2010, we started to see more things happening on the assessment front, things started to change from just responding to static multiple choice types of questions to detecting if the individual has a job-related competencies to perform the job through other means. And I think we’re going to learn more about that today.
Yeah, even that timeline was interesting to me, Susan, because in – although I had used some assessments, maybe in the late 90s, really for the first time, I started using Predictive Index in 2003, and at that time I, we were still giving it on a piece of paper that people filled out when they came into the office. So even, you know, we didn’t go to a computerized version of that, gosh, I don’t know, till late 2000s, you know, maybe 2009, 2010, so.
Yeah. No, that’s fair. Yeah, I think it all depends on where you were company-wise and your level of technology available. And now that – it’s become so easy via the Internet. We’re gonna have a guest later today that I think is really going to help us understand all the things that are, that are at our fingertips if we’re employers, trying to figure out how to use assessments.
So, in this paper that these three people wrote that I thought was so helpful, they explained that they believed that to ensure job success, individuals need to be evaluated, not only on job-related competencies, but they also think on cognitive ability, emotional intelligence, and personalities that are a fit. We hear so much about that, fit for the role and for the company that they’re joining. So you think it would, it would take a ton of time, right, to, to test them on all those components, which you think, oh, this is not a great candidate experience. This could be costly, could take a lot of money. Which in reality over the last few years, especially with the introduction of artificial intelligence into assessments, you could be actually administering one or two assessments that’s going to actually give you feedback on multitude of these factors. So I think that’s pretty exciting. Technology is really coming to help move along the whole concept of assessments.
Right. And I do think that’s another really important thing for our listeners to be aware of. I personally am a fan of assessments, but it has to be a balance between getting the best information for the organization with also creating a positive user experience for the candidates. So you have to consider, you can’t, you know, have people spending a lot of time on assessments, if they’re frustrated by that or if it takes them too long and if your competition is not doing that. You know, just balancing the two.
I think that’s fair. I know in past episodes we’ve talked about HireVue and SparkHire and all of those other video interviewing technology platforms that not only can you, you know, have the opportunity to interview a lot of different people, but they’re using AI in those video interviews to try to detect how the person, the words that they choose to use, the facial expressions that they have, the tone, all of that feeds into figuring out is the person they’re assessing, if they’re a job fit, if they’re a company fit, if they have the cognitive abilities, the EQ, and when we talked about it before, JoDee, you’d had experience with SparkHire. Tell, us our listeners, if they didn’t catch that episode, what your belief was around that.
Yes. So again, I think SparkHire can be a very powerful tool of doing videos, and there’s a good balance of then other party – you know if, if one of your recruiters, for example, is doing the interview, and then you can show that interview to hiring managers, where they can sit at their own time and be able to watch those, so that can be very efficient process to do that. At the same time, we found some people very uncomfortable with the process of having a video interview. And people were struggling to – not the, the software itself, I thought, was very simple. But people maybe could record themselves, and if you gave them multiple attempts to record, they would get a little obsessive about making sure it was perfect, and so they would find that experience frustrating for them. I – in one of my SHRM classes, we talked about SparkHire as well, and, and one of my participants one time said they had found huge success with SparkHire with college students or people just out of college because they were much more comfortable on video. So I thought that was a good process too, to think about what kind of candidate or what kind of experience were you wanting to promote or encourage, and is that the type of candidate you want. If, you know, if you work in a high tech environment, then maybe you need people to be comfortable with that process. Certainly, in light of the pandemic and our stay at home rules, people are getting more comfortable on Zoom meetings and being on camera. Or hope –
– they are. So, that, you know, that trend might change now.
Yeah, no, very true. I’m so intrigued with the fact that how you speak, and what you do, you know, with your facial expressions and things like that while you’re interviewing is actually telling the assessor things about you that you don’t even mean, I don’t even know. I find that whole thing fascinating. Another type of assessment that’s just really gaining in popularity are the game based assessments.
Becoming increasingly popular. You know, how long it takes you as you think through a question could actually with AI’s help determine qualities about yourself you don’t realize. But the person who’s doing the game-based assessment, hopefully they’re having some fun, because it’s an interesting type of exercise as opposed to multiple choice paper and pen question that we used to ask people. Most of those game based assessments take about six to 15 minutes to complete, so it’s not, you know, horrendous, it’s not like actually going in and having a full interview. Most of them include a progressive, game-based approach that’s tailored to each applicant, meaning that depending on when you, how long it takes you to complete a task, how you complete that task, a door opens for the next task that could be more difficult or take you down a particular line. So the actual next – you could be sitting next to somebody who’s actually taking the same initial game-based assessment, and the actual task that they complete could be very, very different depending on how they actually complete each and every task. Every swipe, every selection, every pause is analyzed, and helps the employer know if the person’s a fit or not. Find it fascinating.
It is fascinating. I think things like that, too, are really important to, or can be really important to set the tone again for your organization. Do you want to be viewed by applicants as someone who’s very progressive and very technology-oriented, and if that’s the type of candidate that you are seeking, that can be a very positive experience and set a very positive tone for that process.
Sure. Makes sense.
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Well, JoDee, I – we did ask an expert to come in today. It’s Phil Devendorf. Phil is President of PD Services, which is a 25 year old company that provides job fit assessments, entry-level hiring assessments, and 360 feedback surveys for developing managers and, really, talent management systems throughout your organization. PD Services is based in Ohio and works with companies across the nation.
Welcome, Phil. We’re so happy to have you here today. Do you mind sharing with us how you got into the assessment business? What drew you to it?
Well, sure. So I had, I started my career in line management and line executive positions in the IT industry and, and there I was an assessment user. I found great value in the assessment data, both in hiring folks as well as managing my existing staff. And so 25 years ago or so, I started PD services, and we did at that time a lot of management training and coaching and consulting, and I wanted to have that same data on my clients as I began training or coaching managers. And so I, I enlisted a partnership of an assessment company to do that. And initially it was primarily with my existing client base. But at, at one point in time, I was reviewing a a particularly challenging coaching engagement with a, with a manager, and the owner of the company made the comment, “I wish I would have known this before I hired him.” And, and that was the light that came on that said, yeah, there’s a lot of value in this information in the hiring process.
Yeah, nice. Well, and Phil, don’t you think a lot of hiring managers are taught or definitely encouraged to trust their instincts, so why might not that – not be such a great idea when making hiring decisions?
Well, that’s an interesting question, and we talk about that a lot. There’s a lot of research out there that’s available. I’m a data guy, and so I, I look at a lot of research that, that tells us that that’s not a bad idea. And the reason – or that that is a bad idea, I should say. The reason is that most of us, traditionally, in the hiring process have, have relied on information from resumes and job applications and interviews. And the fact is that that information is going to be biased toward the candidate, because the candidate’s the one giving us that, and also there just isn’t enough good objective information to make a good management decision, hiring decision, if you will. And the research shows that we have about a 25% success rate using that information, because it leads to kind of a gut feel or, or an instinctual hiring decision. If we can add good objective data, of course, from, from assessment testing, that success rate increases astronomically. We see success rates getting up into the 75% range.
Wow. That’s a huge difference!
The other thing that we need to take into account is instinctive hiring, or gut feel hiring, incorporates a lot of bias. And if we’re trying to get bias out of the hiring process, good objective information is the way to do that.
Gosh, you know, it’s funny, Phil, I probably in my life, I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve interviewed, I’m gonna say thousands, and I don’t think I’m wrong, but I – just unbelievable amount. And I think I learned early on that there’s times I just knew somebody’d be great. I just knew it. And they’d show up and I’m like, “Where’s the person I interviewed? This is not the right person.” So I think that you’re right. We’ve got to have objective data. We’ve got to have really thoughtful interviewing processes, and I love the thought of introducing assessments if people aren’t already using them. So, let’s just assume –
It’s interesting –
– on that point is that the, the reverse can be true as well. Some people interview very well and they, they put their best foot forward, and those are the people that surprise you when they show up.
But the thing that’s sometimes unexpected is there are people who just don’t really impress you in the interview process, and if we get that objective data on them, you may find they’re your best employee.
I love that.
And you would have passed on them in the process.
Yeah, oh, that makes good sense. So let’s just say I feel like I’ve got a good interviewing process, but I want to add assessments, because I want to get to that 70% success rate or more. Where does a company start, like, where do you recommend when a client comes to you and says, “I think I’m interested. Where do I go first?”
Yeah. Well, of course I think they should start by talking with me.
But, but really it, it does help to get advice from from somebody who’s been involved. I’ve said there’s an insurance company that says, kind of, “I’ve seen it all,” in their ads and I kind of feel that way. But I’m certainly biased myself toward my products, but but the fact is that as an independent distributor I’ve evaluated lots of assessments and I’ve changed over the years to use what I feel are the best assessments in the, on the marketplace. So, so that’s one piece of it. The other thing is I can also point you to a lot of objective resources from places like SHRM, the Department of Labor, other third party articles and those kind of things, which can kind of lay out what is it that you need to pay attention to if you’re going to incorporate assessments. It’s, for a lot of people, it sounds very scary to, to incorporate it. It’s really not that difficult. But, you know, there are certain things that you need to pay attention to. I suggest people start by defining the problem that needs to be solved or the value that they want to receive. You know, get a clear picture of what they’re trying to accomplish. Are they trying to lower turnover by X percent? Are they trying to increase new hire productivity? Are they trying to increase customer satisfaction? Or maybe it’s sales people. They want to increase the revenue per salesperson. And once there is a clear picture, then they can do things like assess what is the cost of our turnover or what is the return on investment for this project. And then we can fit the assessment to the specific need. Now the, the other piece that’s important there is to define the benchmark, if you will, the pattern that you’re hiring toward. We work with our clients to define what are the characteristics. What’s the cognitive ability that this job needs? What level of cognitive reasoning ability? What are the behavioral traits that are really going to make someone perform in this job? And so that’s a big piece of the upfront work. We have a lot of research that can help you through this. It’s not very hard at all. You can kind of take off the shelf benchmarks or we can customize them for you. And then I would take that and try it out, you know, do a little trial, do a pilot on a specific position that may be a problem position or what have you.
So, Phil, you know, I can think of times in my history where we had, you know, excruciating turnover on the front line and we looked at assessments that we could do so that we could hopefully, you know, reduce turnover. Good example. When you do, when you figure out, okay, so there’s maybe off the shelf product out there that has been used by, you know, hundreds of companies. Do you have to at your own firm run it through a pilot for a period, a long period of time to demonstrate that it’s reliable and valid for your position, or is there some threshold that if it’s been approved and out there for a long period of time that you really you do your pilot, just to make sure that you think it fits in your company, but you’re not having to prove validity and reliability all over again.
Good question. And there’s the, the answer is going to be a little bit of both.
First of all, the vendor, the assessment vendor should provide assessment validation. Validity and reliability data. There should be a technical manual that shows that, that they have done the work to prove that it’s valid and reliable.
Pay attention to this when you’re selecting a vendor, because over my 25 years of doing this, it’s very disappointing to see how many assessment vendors don’t do the basic groundwork of validating the assessment or their validation numbers really aren’t very good. And a lot of those are very popular assessments in the market. So, so that’s kind of the first step in evaluating a vendor, is that assessment work should be done properly. Now there’s a second term called local validity and that is, does the assessment really apply to the job and predict performance in the job. And that’s where that benchmark comes in. If you’ve done a benchmark for the job, that’s local validity. Does that make sense?
It does, yes.
So Phil, I mentioned that, at the top of the podcast, that an assessment could be valid. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for your organization or for a particular type of position, right? I mean that’s why you offer several different assessments.
So what are some of the most common assessments you see companies using today?
Well, we see, and there’s, there are ton of assessments out there in the marketplace and also the term assessment gets used very widely for a variety of things. So, so if we limit our discussion to job fit assessments or personality assessments or those types of things, then I see an awful lot of what what I call employee-only assessments, you’ll see DiSC and Myers-Briggs and, and those types of assessments, which are often – with the DiSC, there are a variety of DiSC tools out there, but all of them are four quadrant tools where a person will select what’s most like me, maybe least like me from a, a list of descriptors and it’ll give us a four quadrant tool. Those are great for team exercises, communication exercises, maybe some development tools. Some of those kind of things, but they measure adapted personality, how people have adjusted in a given environment. And so it’s not good information in the hiring process. You want to know what their core behaviors are and so you want to make sure you’re using an assessment that measures core behavior and cognitive and those kind of things to fit with the job, because people are going to adapt differently. But again, the DiSC and Myers-Briggs or are good in the environment of with existing employees who are already in your organization, because their adaptive personality makes sense. You want to see that. There has been a huge growth over the past, geez, I don’t know, 10 or 15 years in hiring assessments, and there are a number, you know, unfortunately for me, there are a number of competitors out there that, that do measure core behavior, they measure cognitive, they, they focus on job fit and those kind of things. So we see that a lot. Beyond that, we see a lot of skills testing for specific jobs, and then you hear “assessment” used even when we’re talking about applicant tracking systems and doing some initial, just basic questions for screening individuals out. A lot of those vendors, the ATS vendors talk about assessments, but it’s really nothing more than specific questions that are, that are asked, screening questions that are asked.
Sure. So what – when you use the term job fit, define that for us when it relates to assessments. Like, what are some of the things that you could do with assessments to figure out job fit?
Sure. I’ve used the term benchmark and patterns, job patterns, success patterns. The industry has a number of terms for it, but it’s basically building a benchmark of what are the characteristics which are going to lead to high performance in a given job. So different jobs need different levels of cognitive or, or I use the term reasoning ability for the same thing. And so we want to define that. Let’s take a sales job for a complex product. If it’s a complex decision process where a number of people are involved in a decision, then they need to have the ability to take in a lot of information about the requirements, about where different people are coming from, all those kind of things. It’s an information intensive process. They need to be high in reasoning ability. Whereas, if it’s a sales position for a commodity. Let’s say it’s retail or, or kind of an order taking type position. High reasoning ability isn’t required, and in fact, it can be a detriment, because they’re going to get bored in that position and leave. So we want to define where they fit. Then if you get into personality characteristics, let’s, let’s take a job that needs a high level of optimism and trust. You need to be upbeat, those kind of things. But some other jobs require a good bit of skepticism, and that’s really on the other end of that, of that scale. So we want to define where a high performing person is in that behavioral characteristic. The same might be true of people orientation. That extraversion and introversion thing. If it’s a customer service job with with a high level of person to person contact, you want someone high in that people orientation scale. But if it’s a programmer that needs to go off and work on their own for extended periods of time, you want them to be lower on that scale, because they’ll struggle if they don’t have the people contact.
You know, it strikes me, JoDee, as we’re listening to this that I think we need an assessment for how JoyPowered® someone is.
We can work on that! We can create that! So, yeah! Phil, can you share some examples with us of some business success stories after a company started using assessments in their hiring process?
Sure. One of my longtime clients is, is in the senior housing industry. And so they’ve been a client for at least 15 years, maybe 20 years, and one of the things that they do with me a lot is they tease me a good bit that I’m working myself out of a job, because over time for given positions, they keep using fewer and fewer assessments, because they’re doing less and less hiring, tying back to lower turnover. Now the good news there is they they continue to expand the use of assessments to different jobs and different divisions and some of those kind of things, so my revenue isn’t really going down, but they kid me a good bit that, that my business model is terrible, because if I do a good job I lose business.
But that is success. Do you have any examples where maybe a company ran into trouble because they were not using the right assessments or maybe not using them effectively?
I haven’t had a lot of that. I’ll give you an example that happened a few years ago, and it was a company with – that was a unionized company, and they had a very structured hiring process, and they were challenged, and I forget if it was the Department of Labor, or who came in, but a complaint had been lodged by a, a woman over 50, or whatever it was. She, she the complaint was that everyone who was invited to the final interview was a, was a young male. And so the agency came in with that complaint and asked for all the data. I got a call from the client saying, “Can you, can you forward the validity and reliability information, because I need to to provide that to the…” let’s say it was the Department of Labor. And, and she called me shortly thereafter, and said, “We’re done.” She said, “I’ve never seen anything that has, that has come to conclusion so quickly,” because they they took the assessment data that we had, it showed clearly that the people we selected had stronger assessment results than the people we didn’t, including the plaintiff, and they looked at the reliability and validity data and said, “Yep, you’re using a good assessment and it clearly shows objectively why you chose to bring these people in, so you’re fine.”
Nice. Nice. Very good.
One thing that’s always puzzled me about assessments is the reasoning ability. When you’re trying to measure reasoning ability, can you kind of share with us what types of questions, or how do you go about measuring reasoning?
Good question. It’s, it’s largely a series of – think of them as story problems from school, if you will, where the assessment will present data, present a situation, and ask the the assessment taker to kind of reason through what has been presented and come to a conclusion and select the right answer based on that. So we will, will incorporate number oriented problems and and word oriented problems, and then we also, our assessment, and this is one of the things that, that I really like about it, also includes shape sequences, the types of things where you’ll see three kind of boxes of shapes that are slightly different. And you’ve got to mentally figure out what the pattern of the change is and then select from a list of four or five what the next pattern would be. And that measures conceptual thinking skills, almost like three dimensional thinking skills.
I think I’d be doomed, Phil.
You know, it’s, some people love those. They have fun with them, and other people despise them.
I was just, I’m glad to hear Susan say she might be doomed because I do not like those types of assessments! I think I’m not a successful person in that, in reasoning.
Yeah, and you might be, you might be surprised at how well you do. With both of you, I suspect that you have conceptual thinking skills to have accomplished what you have, so.
Well, thank you, Phil.
Thank you. Phil, I want to go back to your comment earlier where you mentioned about DiSC and a Myers-Briggs, you know, at, at Purple Ink we are huge fans also have CliftonStrengths, which is also not a valid hiring assessment tool and should never be used as a part of the decision making for hiring people, but I do hear, I do have a lot of clients still who are using DiSC, and some that use Myers-Briggs and tell me that, well, even if it’s not valid data for hiring, they like it’s, it’s additional information they can use in the process. But I just always recommend that they, you know, not use it, for example in CliftonStrengths, like they should never say, “I’m going to hire a salesperson, and they have to have these three strengths.” What do you tell people that, you know, should they just stay away from those all together, or can they use it as additional information if they’re careful with it? Do you hear those questions or stories?
I do get those questions and I, I do see that, and it, quite honestly, it’s one of the challenges that I face. And I go back to kind of our, our opening discussion when I mentioned that, the business owner who gave me the comment that, “this information is so valuable with my existing employees, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that with a candidate before they come in.” And so if, if you’re using the CliftonStrengths or the DiSC or the Myers-Briggs, and you’re getting value with existing employees, that certainly is a logical tendency to say, “Oh, I’d like to have this about my existing people.” The real challenge is that people will, you know when when you take a DiSC, for example, and I suspect, I don’t know that the Clifton tool as well. We even advise people that, think about your work situation, or think about your home situation, or whatever, because you adapt differently to different situations. And so if you’re measuring that with a candidate who, by definition, is going to come into a different situation when they come into a new company, a new job, you run the risk of being misled by the results. So, so I’m, I’m very ardent in the, the position that you really need to measure core behaviors in the hiring process.
Now, If you have a psychologist or psychiatrist involved in the process who can interpret results and interpret situations for you, using an adaptive tool can give you some information. But most of us don’t want to spend the money to have a psychologist do that type of interpretation for a candidate.
Yeah. Makes sense.
It does. So what other advice do you have, Phil, for our listeners? And our listeners are primarily business leaders and HR professionals. What should they know?
I really go back to, most organizations have really started to figure out that people are their competitive advantage. And if you believe that, then the hiring and management decisions that you’re making are really among the most important decisions that you can make in the organization. You know, we, we go back and kind of use the analogy that, that a lot of organizations spend more time evaluating a copier than they do hiring an employee. But, but on the other hand, which has more value to the organization? So if – most of us understand if we’ve been in a management position and we’re, we’re making decisions based on financial data and other objective information that good objective information lead to better decisions, then we really need to apply that to the hiring process. And it’s becoming easier, because we’re talking more and more about HR analytics and big data and those kinds of things. Well, the whole HR analytics, we’ve been doing that for, for years with assessment data, you know, building benchmarks, doing those kinds of things, using data to make better decisions. I just want to make sure people understand that.
Yeah, yeah. Great advice. And Phil, how can people reach you, if they have more questions or want to connect with you about hiring assessments.
Well, they can go to our website, which is pdservices.com, PD for professional development and then the word services plural. Certainly can email me at Phil D, for Phil Devendorf, at pdservices.com, and my phone number is 740-326-4494 and I’m happy to talk with anybody who wants to discuss it.
And our listeners can do any of those without having to figure out how to spell Devendorf.
Exactly, exactly. We’ve taken that challenge out of that. That, that, that’s one of the reasoning ability questions.
Oh, that’s great. Oh, Phil this has been, it’s been a pleasure and you’ve taught us a lot today, and we just thank you so much for joining our podcast.
I appreciate your inviting me in.
And for any of our listeners who are SHRM members, I did want to mention that last year they launched a talent assessment center that you can get to from shrm.org, and I think it’s a nice resource to go out, take a look at all different types of assessments that are available. So just another place to go to think about.
Yeah. Very good.
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Our next guest is Mellissa Boggs, the Executive Vice President of Employee Experience at Kite Realty Group. Kite Realty is a full service, vertically integrated real estate investment trust that provides communities with convenient and beneficial shopping experiences. Mel, thanks so much for joining us today.
Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Yeah. So tell us why your company, at Kite, uses assessments?
Well, we use assessments in a lot of different ways. When I came to Kite officially in 2012, I became their first head of HR. They’d never had a formalized process. And one of the charters I was given by our CEO and the board was to really create a very integrated process about how we looked at people. And I had known from my past life that assessments were a great way to help me and the management team really kind of get a roadmap for the employees that we were bringing into the organization and how are they ultimately going to fit, and I started with the first idea of talking with managers about what is it you want to manage? Because when you when you hire someone, that’s really when the process starts of what you’re managing in an assessment, and there’s a lot of really great assessments out there that you can use. Assessments were that roadmap to help give you some visibility into what you’re going to have to manage down the line. Kind of the first thought process, it was part of my training and development initially with the leadership team. And you know, today, I hear when we hire someone, they will come back to me and say, what do I want to manage? And I’ll say, exactly, what do you want to manage? And assessments are not the end all be all, they are not the answer. They are part of the interview process if you’re using them on a pre-employment perspective, they are part of a promotional process or a development process, but they are not the end all be all. They are just simply visibility into how a person will interact with the situation, the people, etc.
That’s great. It sounds like it’s a tool to help you in your decision making, it’s not going to make the decision for you.
Absolutely. And there are many times they wanted it to be the end all be all.
Like, no, let’s talk about why that doesn’t work at the end of the day, because it creates a hands off management process. They want the assessment to get, again, give them the answer. And as we all know, there are no – there is no golden answer when you’re looking at people, because things change, circumstances change. You’re hiring a whole person. JoDee, I know you know this, I mean nine times out of 10, when we look at having to work with somebody on a performance calibration or performance correction, it’s not necessarily because they technically can’t do the job, right? It’s because they don’t have the capability to play nice in the sandbox with everyone else.
So true. So, Mellissa, what types of assessments are you currently using at Kite?
Sure. So on a, on a, it’s built over the years, okay, we’ve increased this, we actually use a number of them for different reasons. So on the pre-employment side, we use the Profiles PXT, and the reason we like that is, is that it has it has multiple components. So it has the learning index, which is are they capable of doing the job, are they capable of taking on a lot of new information, integrating that, how are they, how’s that going to look, is this going to require us to have very detailed, very hands on training, is this person really, you know, equipped to be able to do that? So it tells us right off the bat what kind of onboarding we’re going to have to create for that person to help them be successful in the position. And then it looks at, not necessarily personality, but behavioral traits. So when things don’t go necessarily as they would expect, the stressors, if you will, it gives you an insight as to how they’re going to look. What way are they going to go on that spectrum, and then what is their overall bend into the position that they’re looking at? You know as well as I do, many people take opportunities and they don’t fully understand maybe what that position is, because it’s not exactly like what they had before. So this gives you an idea is what is their bend? Are they very administrative? Are they very salesy? Are they very technical? Are they mechanical? And what does the role require of them in that, and how are we going to, again, align to create the greatest success for the person as well as the company? We’re looking for a great, greatest ability for success. The next opportunity for us to use assessments, we also use the PXT, and we’ve added some things to this, but we used – we used to use it for development and promotional opportunities, because it did have an ability to be able to look at that, right, through 60 components which we use for executive leadership and that piece, and creating that, again, it really creates a better roadmap for us. And so we’ve evolved that, because we then added the Birkman for our high potential leadership development group. So we, we went through a period from 16 to 18, 2000… no, sorry, it was 15 to 17. I’m sorry. And we’ve continued on with that, but very strongly, we put about 24 high potential candidates through, we had just come through a very large merger, and we needed to have very quick visibility into how are we going to create our succession plan? How are we going to really be able to get people to step up to that next level to become not technical managers anymore, but strategic leaders, and they gave us a very good insight into that piece, and we also use their 360 component, again, on the executive level, because, again, we needed to develop them as well, and really pointing out those blind spots that we all have as as leaders and making sure that they’re working on it. And then in addition to that, we added just a DiSC assessment, and we use that for creating… we were seeing a lot of communication challenges. One of the things that one of our engagement surveys had told us is that we still were having trouble breaking down silos, which is a communication issue. And so the director that works in my group and I got together and we said, what’s the best opportunity for us to help really focus in on the communication? How do we help people understand that just because somebody communicates this way or that way doesn’t mean that they’re being disrespectful or, or what have you, but how do we come together and do that in a way that that is much more productive versus destructive? And we added just a straight out DiSC assessment, and it’s been very interesting to look at. We’ve plotted that out where we’re about 85% through the whole organization at this point, and we’re planning that out and really seeing why we’re having some of the challenges we are in certain areas because it’s the way we communicate, the way we understand one another, the way we really communicate with one another, and that was in conjunction with a huge initiative that we had with a customer service initiative. The person on the outside of the building is not our only customer, we’re customers to one another. So that really gave, gave us some great visibility and gave us great gains in breaking down those silos and making us work much more efficiently.
That’s awesome. And it’s so good to hear you’re using different kinds of assessments for different things. I know so many organizations use them in the recruiting process, and then they get filed away in their file and they never talk about them again. So I think that’s really important.
It is important, and I will tell you, JoDee, that we use them when, when a manager comes to me and says you know, hey, Mel, I’m having this challenge with this employee. I can’t really figure it out. So let’s go back to the assessment. So if it was the PXT, let’s go back to that. Well, let’s talk about what are we seeing, remember, we talked about this in the interview process, this is something that you knew you were going to have to manage, so talk to me about how you’re managing this process. And oftentimes, they’ll be like, oh, my gosh, I totally forgot about that. And so you know, it becomes a head scratcher. And I say, okay, let’s, let’s look at this, so let’s figure out how we’re going to develop them and work with them. And so my team will come together with that manager to provide, you know, basically a full circle around this employee so that we get them back on the path to success, because as you know, the path to being unsuccessful could be very easy to go down and hard to come back from.
Yeah, yeah. What kind of feedback have you gotten from your employees or even applicants to assessments?
Sure. Um, you know, it’s very funny. I get mixed. Some of them are very intrigued by it and they want to see the results themselves, so we, we do, and that’s one of the things we love about the PXT, it does give us an individual report, the individual report is not as raw as what a manager or I would see, because it – what we see is really the unvarnished truth, where the individual report that the employee or the, or the candidate would get as well, and we’ll go through it with them, too, if, even if we decide we’re not going down that path with them, because we want them to understand. We’ll give them the report, they read the report – that’s the other thing we like about the PXT, it’s very easy to read and understand. You don’t have to have a PhD, no offense to my PhD friends out there, but you don’t have to have a PhD to really understand it, but you can’t also just take it and have nothing with it. It does require some conversation. So we will put the time and the energy into talking with people about that, and then they’ll be like, oh my gosh, this is so me. I totally understand this. I get it. Yeah, that’s that’s very true about me. So it’s – that’s what it is, but on the first part of it, it’s, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I had to answer all these questions and it made me think about this, and it just gets them going in a lot of different directions.
Yeah, that’s wonderful. So Mel, do you have any lessons learned for any of our listeners who are just starting to put their toe in the water thinking about doing assessments, maybe some of the good or the bad, anything that you’ve learned that could help somebody else starting out with assessments?
Sure. I think, first of all, understand what you’re what you’re trying to get to with your assessment. What are you trying to learn from that assessment? That’s number one. Making sure it’s validated for the purpose that you want to use it is extremely important. Not all assessments are created equal. And for every person that you talk to, you’re going to find a different assessment as the assessment of choice. Again, going back to what am I trying to learn from that assessment and how is that going to help me make a better hiring decision, promotional decision, development decision, etc., so on. I think, don’t let it become the answer, the end all be all. And I think if you do that you’re, you’re really, you’re very lopsided in your decision making, I think, at that point, I think that’s, that’s another thing that I’ve learned. And I think approaching from a true understanding of the person, who is this person is going to be reporting to, and really challenging that manager to say, what is it you want to manage? Because you’re going to manage something as a manager, we don’t all come out and not be managed. I mean, you know, JoDee, you’re managed by your clients, right? I mean, as the, as the President and CEO of your organization. So I’m managed by my CEO and the board, my CEO is managed by the board. So we all have to be managed in somehow, so you have to understand what that looks like. And know, know, what is success in that position? I think if you’re just doing them because it’s the flavor of the month or somebody, you know, comes along and says, hey, this is a great idea, we need to do this. You need to ask a lot of questions. Why, why are we doing this? And what are we going to do with this information? And how is it going to help us get from point A to point B successfully?
Well, thank you so much for sharing with us today. This has been great insight, practical insight on using assessments that will be helpful to our listeners and us.
I’m glad to be here, and thank you so much for asking me to join. It’s been great.
Susan, we have a listener question today, and this question comes from a listener of our podcast episode that was entitled “Benefit Trends,” and it first aired in May 2019. “How can I get employees to take an active part in understanding and managing their benefits?”
Wow, listener, I hear your pain, because you think about the time and the energy that we as employers put into figuring out what the benefit offering is going to be at a very high price tag. And we realize that sometimes employees, they, you know, they kind of shrug it off, or it’s not important to them until they need one of those benefits, and what we need to make sure we’re doing is amplifying, I think, and really sounding the horn so that employees realize that we have a wonderful benefit offering at this particular organization. I want it to be what attracts other people, I want it to be what keeps you. So, you know, I was – just thought it’d be nice for us to think through maybe a couple of things that if you haven’t thought of doing this, let’s offer them up, and maybe it’d be useful. JoDee, one thing I would mention is my husband works at a university, and I think they are absolutely tremendous at making sure throughout the year that through – they have a, like, an HR newsletter that goes out to all of their employees. They talk about, a portion of every one of those, about different benefits, they kind of shine the light on it. And it kind of helps remind him that you know what, gosh, we have yoga classes that are available or we have EAP that’s available, or we have whatever it is. So that kind of puts it in the forefront of employees’ minds. Second thing I’ve seen them do, and I’ve heard some of other clients do, is that they will invite whoever the dependents are one of their staff members has, their partner, their spouse, to different types of sessions during the year to talk about benefits, because they realize they offer some family benefits. Why not invite them to kind of hear and learn more about it? I think that’s a great idea.
Yeah, I think that is so important to include spouses in the process. It doesn’t matter, male or female, that many families have one person that handle the benefits.
And many times that’s not the employee. I’ve come to appreciate, too, that we don’t always… mostly we don’t appreciate our benefits until we use them. For example, you mentioned an EAP. Well, you might have been – had access to an EAP for 20 years and never called it, and then until you call it and reap some personal benefit or, or get some good insight from that, you don’t appreciate that that is something that is a positive thing for people. And even the same on, you know, health insurance. Unless you’ve, you’ve had maybe a more significant health experience, you don’t always appreciate the value of, of the benefit of that, that you know, you had a surgery that cost $50,000 and you didn’t have to pay anything for it, or your deductible was $1,000 or $5,000. So, it really, really is difficult to get that through. I admit even for me personally, even though I’d been in HR for many years, until I was actually responsible for the benefits of my organization, starting in 2003, I realized how I didn’t even always understand benefits. And I, for many years, had been on my husband’s benefit plan, and so I just kind of took those for granted, but it’s a difficult thing to help your employees be active in understanding and managing and, and taking part and utilizing, you know, utilizing that free yoga class, but…
It’s not on their radar until they really need it. A couple of other things that I’ve seen companies do, they’ll… in addition to everything being online, which is really a beautiful thing for a lot of reasons, they will also send, like, postcards, or they’ll send different things through snail mail, just in case the person, as you said, who’s really the benefit decision maker isn’t… may not be the employee, it gives, it kind of says, hey, open enrollment is going to be October 11 through November 7. Let’s put it on the family calendar. I think that’s not a bad idea.
And then, of course, many companies will, at least once a year, send out a statement of here’s what your compensation is. And then they make a real effort to show, and here’s all the other benefits we pay on your behalf, so your true salary, you know, may not be $48,000, it really is $60,000 the way we view it. I think that’s just another maybe tip to try to amplify how important benefits are and maybe get employees engaged more.
Good luck to you, listener.
Yeah, I love it.
It’s time for in the news. An article on HRdive.com that was published February 28, 2020, highlighted companies who have come together since 2018 midterm elections… after the midterm elections on a nonpartisan initiative that’s called Time to Vote. As of this date, which today happens to be the middle of April 2020, 383 employers have joined the coalition to provide ways to encourage their employees to vote on election days with a special eye on the November 2020 presidential election. These first 383 companies have had more than… all together, have more than 2 million workers. So this type of encouragement that they’re doing includes ensuring their employees know that they’ve got time off to vote with or without pay, and not, but just not counting it as an absence. They are also offering resources that support early voting, and the use of mail in ballots, why that can be important depending where you live, etc. So some of these employers that are part of that 383 company forum so far include Best Buy, Walmart, HP, Target, JPMorgan Chase, and others. So if your organization wants to join this campaign, just go to maketimetovote.org to learn more.
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