How Assessments Drive Decisions

Do people make better choices with more information?  Absolutely. “Gut” feelings are important, but making decisions without actual data to support them can lead to costly mistakes.

Assessment tools provide the objective information you need to make key hiring decisions. Taking the time to gather, evaluate, and compare and contrast assessment data can dramatically increase your hiring success rate—and decrease turnover costs.

In today’s leaner business climate, budgets are tighter, and there’s less room for error. But companies still don’t invest enough time, thought or resources in their hiring processes to avoid wrong hires.

Assessment tools are nothing new. Since the 1940s, there have been processes to objectively identify and describe individuals’ job-related characteristics, skills, and abilities. These tools have evolved significantly over the years, but many people still don’t realize how powerful they can be.

The proper use and implementation of assessment tools can provide data to assist managers in making better decisions, thus yielding better organizational results in the following areas:

  • Sourcing Talent
  • Managing/Coaching
  • Promotions
  • Building High-Achieving Teams
  • Sales Optimization
  • Learning Development
  • Succession Planning

A well-designed assessment process identifies qualities in potential hires—as well as current employees—that can make a difference to the organization:

  1. Are they the right person (with the right skills and talents) for the job?
  2. Do they fit into the environment (culture) of the company?
  3. Do they have the potential to grow?

Henry Ford reportedly once complained that all he wanted from a worker was a pair of hands, but that he had to deal with the whole person instead.

Given that we all need to hire “whole people,” we might as well learn as much as we can about their attitudes, personalities, and abilities ahead of time. Assessments give us the information we need to make smarter decisions.

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Is it Time for a Culture Check-Up?

A company’s culture is the unique personality behind a business. It’s “the way we do things around here.” A healthy culture provides meaning, direction, purpose, and clarity. These unifying forces stimulate the collective wisdom and energy of everyone in an organization and are the key to building a successful and fulfilling enterprise.


Business leaders today know they need to cultivate a company culture of shared values, compelling vision, and common purpose. But that’s much easier said than done. The real challenge lies not simply in articulating values and putting a plaque on the wall, but in making those ideals come alive.


Most leaders, after all, strive for the same kinds of “winning” values: integrity, honesty, openness, and trust are near the top of everyone’s list. And most employees want to work for an organization that promotes teamwork and mutual respect while delivering quality, service, and innovation. Working together towards shared goals can foster strong feelings of personal effectiveness and high levels of company loyalty.


This isn’t just touchy-feely stuff, though. There are real payoffs for organizations that are able to implement a positive, healthy culture. According to a 2002 study conducted by The Leadership Challenge, firms with a strong corporate culture outperform other firms by huge margins:


  • Their revenue grew more than 4 times faster
  • Their rate of job creation was 7 times higher
  • Their stock price grew 12 times faster
  • Their profit performance was 750 percent higher!

So how can you be sure you’re providing a healthy environment where your people believe in their leaders and the organization as a whole?


That’s simple: get a culture check-up.


The Cultural Health Indicator™ (CHI™) is a validated survey that provides a clear understanding of an organization’s culture. By measuring seven key dimensions of culture, this powerful tool can help businesses assess their current culture, identify the kind of culture they’d like to have, and determine solutions to help close the gaps between the two.


The CHI™ is a secure, anonymous, user-friendly Internet-based survey that takes only about 20 minutes to complete. Everyone in your organization should participate. Results and recommendations are generated within 30 days after the start of the survey, and focus groups can be conducted to validate the findings. Unlike conventional employee surveys, CHI™ integrates results into an action plan that provides you with specific steps to improve your operations.


AL clients who have used the CHI™ report a wide range of benefits, including increased management collaboration and teamwork, improved employee retention and attraction, better customer service, and higher productivity levels.


Are you overdue for your checkup? Don’t delay any longer. Taking care of your company’s cultural health really is critical to your long-term success. As Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., former CEO for IBM, once said, “Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.”

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The DISC® Profile: It’s All About YOU!

In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s hard to keep up with all the latest trends, newest tools, and most current buzzwords. But newer isn’t always better. And in the world of assessment tools, it’s hard to match the lasting legacy and usefulness of the long-respected “DISC®” personality profile.

The foundation for the DISC® assessment tool was established way back in 1928, when psychologist William Moulton Marston described four basic personality styles in his book, Emotions of Normal People. (You’ve got to love that title!) Over time, the terminology has evolved into the styles we know today: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

Using today’s technology, it’s easy to quickly assess an individual’s profile and determine where they fall on the DISC® grid. People with high “D” (Dominant) scores are direct and assertive, and tend to try and fix, change, or control things. High “I” (Influence) individuals are enthusiastic and sociable and are more likely to try to persuade or influence others. The high “S” (Steadiness) person is generally soft-spoken, calm, and cooperative. A high “C” (Conscientiousness) score indicates that an individual is analytical and focused on accurate, high-quality results.

Of course, it’s always interesting to take the test and see well how your “score” matches your own perception of yourself. It’s often quite illuminating when the test results suggest you might not be exactly the person you think you are!

At Assessment Leaders, when we implement the DISC® tool with our clients, we always encourage them to spend time reflecting on their own primary and secondary DISC® styles. Sometimes we have to remind them that there are no “good” or “bad” styles: each one has strengths that can add value to a company.

Better understanding your own strengths can help you learn how to use them – and how to avoid overusing them. For example, a high “D” individual might overuse his strength of confidence and become boastful and vain, which makes him less effective in the workplace. This kind of self-DISC®overy is very important, and the quantitative results from the DISC® tool really do help people focus on what they do best.

The DISC® profile also helps team leaders and managers better understand and manage their employees. A full DISC® assessment includes a number of valuable reports for management. For each individual employee, the General Characteristics Report provides the following information:

  • A quick overview of the individual’s basic behavioral strengths
  • A graph of the DISC® profile results
  • A narrative overview of the person’s behavioral style
  • Detailed descriptions of the person’s tendencies
    • Motivating factors
    • Preferred environment
    • Strategies for increased effectiveness
    • Demotivating factors
    • Behavior in conflict situations
  • A graphical representation of the “behavioral tendency continuum,” showing the respondent’s range of intensity for certain behaviors
  • Worksheets to prompt DISC®ussion and determine which action strategies would be most effective

As if all that weren’t enough, you can get even more Supplemental Reports that look not just at individual profiles but at the distribution and combination of personality styles on the whole team. That’s where it really starts to get interesting!

So yes, it’s true: the DISC® assessment tool is an oldie but a goodie. But it’s still a fantastic first step for employees, managers, and companies toward better understanding the strengths and personalities of the unique individuals that make up their workforce.

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How to build a Rockstar Sales team?

What makes a great sales person? You might not know it yet, but the answer is actually right in front of you.

Start by taking a close look at your current sales team. You probably know without even thinking about it who your “star” performers are. But what is it exactly that makes them so successful, while others struggle? Taking an objective approach can help you find out.

Stars, So-Sos, and Passengers

First, identify your “performance tiers” by making a list of all your salespeople, ranked from top to bottom by total sales per year. Add all the sales and divide by three. For example, if your team’s total sales were $6 million, then that would break into $2 million per “tier.”


Now go back to your original list and assign salespeople to their respective tiers. If your top two sales representatives account for a combined $2 million in sales, those two would make up your top tier of “Star” performers. The next $2 million might come from three different sales reps, so those represent the middle, or “So-So” tier. If the last $2 million comes from five different salespeople, these become the bottom tier, which we call “Passengers” (because they seem to be just along for the ride!).

Once you’ve quantified the sales output and performance tiers of your team, you need to consider the overall impact of each salesperson. If you can move members from the “So-So” level up to “Star,” or even from “Passenger” up to “So-So,” you can make dramatic increases in your bottom line. On the other hand, losing just one “Star” performer and having to replace him or her with a “So-So” can be very costly. However you slice it, you really cannot afford attrition.

Profile the Stars

So how do you actually go about moving salespeople from the bottom tiers up to the top? You first need to know what your Star performers are doing right. That’s where assessment profiles come in. There are a number of effective tools that measure the critical behaviors of successful salespeople. One profile that we use at AL takes considers seven such criteria:

  • Prospecting
  • Closing Sales
  • Call Reluctance
  • Self-Starting
  • Teamwork
  • Building & Maintaining Relationships
  • Compensation Preferences

The online assessment is easy to administer, and takes just one hour. By profiling your Star performers first, you can establish a benchmark so you can see which combination of traits works best for your business.

Now you can measure your other employees against the “target” profile set by your Stars. The assessment tools make it easy to see exactly where the middle-to-low performers are falling short, and you can address those specific areas of improvement with each individual.

Before you hire new salespeople, have them complete the profile as part of the interview process, so you can see ahead of time if they are a good match for the job. Studies conducted by the Harvard Business Review have shown conclusively that success in sales cannot be predicted by experience or college degrees, but “hinges on fit with the job.” Using these powerful assessment tools, you can easily determine each individual’s job match percentage and make better-informed hiring and management decisions.

So, just by taking a closer look at the “stars” you already have, you can hire and develop the best talent and increase your overall sales. And you don’t even need a telescope!


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Which Door Will It Be?

On “Let’s Make a Deal,” contestants have to choose between Door #1, Door #2, and Door #3. If they choose wisely, they could drive home in a new sports car, or pick up a big pile of cash. But an unlucky guess sends them home empty-handed.

In today’s workplace, there are also three “doors.” Each one represents an opportunity for your company to impact the performance and retention of your people. You have to understand what’s “behind” all three doors to better attract, retain, and advance employees at all levels.

Door #1: The Selection Process

Naturally, your first opportunity to evaluate a job candidate is during the selection process. Doing this right takes time.

According to an SHRM Study reported in USA Today, 63% of all hiring decisions are made during the first 4.3 minutes of an interview. But there’s no need to rush this process! In fact, the most thorough selection process imaginable costs less than hiring the wrong person for just one day.

For recruiting, we always recommend using a benchmark tool like Profile XT for Job Match. You can use your top-performing employees as benchmarks to identify the skill sets and personality profiles that will be a good fit for your company.

Door #2: The Right Fit

Even after an employee is hired, it’s essential to regularly evaluate their “fit” with your company. According to the Harvard Business Review, “It’s not experience that counts, or college degrees, or other acceptable factors…success hinges on a fit with the job.”

Ongoing assessments, employee training, coaching and development are all critical to long-term success. It can take time before any problems become apparent. But time really is money, and too many companies waste valuable opportunities and resources on employees who are not performing.


Door #3: The Back Door

“Chances are good that up to 66% of your company’s hiring decisions will prove to be mistakes in the first twelve months.”

—    Peter Drucker, Management Consultant

Unfortunately, sometimes an employee simply doesn’t work out. You may try to redeploy a marginal performer to another department and hope for better results. However, the best way to frustrate your top performers is to keep your weak employees. And when top performers leave, you are dealing with another set of problems.

Either way, having to show an employee the “exit” door is a difficult and expensive way to train yourself out of a bad hiring decision. In fact, statistics show that corporate America loses $11 billion a year to employee turnover.


Don’t let your company become a statistic. From the moment a potential candidate walks in Door #1, use all the tools at your disposal to hire right the first time and create a culture of excellence. That way, everyone’s a winner!

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10 Simple Steps To Getting the Most From Assessments

Thoughts from my close colleague, Dave Hendrickson. Dave is one of my biggest fans and loves Assessment Leaders.  How we met?  He called AL to inquire about the use an assessment in hiring a couple of very technical, professional service consultants.  This was a very targeted hire, requiring specific skills.  Dave purchased our validated, pre-hire assessment called the PXT, which measures the total person : can, will and how the candidate do the job. The rest is history, we’ve been friends ever since.  Below is our first blog, written by my friend (and customer).

My dad had an awesome workshop. The walls were covered with pegboard. His precious tools painstakingly outlined to demonstrate precisely where each item would rest between uses.  He didn’t just have one hammer, he had 12 of them and could articulate the differences between them as a symphony conductor would explain why he/she needed both a trombone and a french horn.  As I kid, I was warned not to touch them, but I marveled at them from afar. I could identify the screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers and clamps, but he also had dozens of specialty apparatuses that I still don’t understand. And then there were the big power tools. “Put these on and stand back,” he’d say as he handed me my little pair of safety glasses.  Dad would saw and drill and plane and sand. Watching him create and repair with those tools was very exciting for me, but at the same time, Dad was very cautious to show me just exactly how any one of these tools could separate me from my fingers, toes, eyes, or almost any body part.

Knowledge is power. We use powerful tools to create amazing things, but in the untrained hand, they can wreak havoc and leave a lifetime of scars in their wake.   Assessment Tools are no different. Properly used, they unlock incredible benefit for individuals, teams, and organizations.  On the other hand, we’ve all heard the horror stories of people using assessments for improper purposes, results poorly communicated to individuals (or not communicated at all!), and huge expectations set that could never be reasonably achieved. These regrettable scenarios always lead to resentment, mistrust, and employee disengagement.

Like my dad gave me safety equipment and showed me the ropes, let me run through 10 Simple Steps that will make sure your next use of assessments are as successful as they can be.

#1 Define your assessment goals
#2 Define your assessment audience
#3 Carefully select the best assessment tool(s)
#4 Train personnel on both administration and delivery of assessment results
#5 Fully communicate the assessment expectations and process to participants and management before implementation
#6 Keep an open communication channel for questions & issues as they arise
#7 Deliver results and what those results mean professionally and completely (do not just email a report)
#8 Explicitly answer the “So What?” question. How do results impact individuals, teams and/or organization
#9 Set goals based on outcomes
#10 Schedule a check in to compare goals to achievements

Assessment tools can help you create some truly beautiful things: functional teams, sound
succession plans, and employees who are constantly striving to maximize their talents.  Select and use the proper tools with care and the results can be spectacular. Use them haphazardly at your peril.  – Dave.

Assessment Leaders today to see how the experienced team can help you develop
the ideal assessment process, or refine the one you have.  1-866-867-8200.

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