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Strategic Assessments:  Setting up Assessments for Success

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In another instance, leaders received assessments as a part of the leadership orientation program.  The assessments were sent to the learning department who made copies of the reports for each program participant.  The reports were secured under lock and key prior to the program and kept in sealed envelopes before being distributed during the class.

Setting up the systems early protects the leader, the coach and the organization.  For example, a learning executive got a call from the CHRO.  “We are exploring Sam’s readiness for a promotion.  What reports do you have on Sam?”  Months earlier, the department had created policies and systems that stated that all assessment data was the “property” of the leader being assessed and was not available for others to view.  As a part of this set-up, it was decided that assessment data would be stored with the firm conducting the assessments rather than being stored within the organization.  In order to have helpful data for the organization, each leader created a summary of their assessment results and action plans that were shared with their managers.  These summary documents were public documents that could be shared across the enterprise.  In responding to the request, the learning leader shared that the assessment firm housed all the reports and that no report data was available.  However, the learning leader did have the summary document and shared this with the CHRO.

Question Five: 

How long is the data considered current?  In other words, what is the life of the data?  For a 360 assessment, for example, the data is usually considered relevant for approximately one year.  Some tools’ results shift significantly based on the position of the person being assessed while some tools change very little over time.  This is why it is important to determine the life span of the data as a part of the set-up.  In the same vein, determining a secure path for destroying reports ensures that confidentiality is protected.

Question Six:    In a 360 report, how will confidentiality be handled?

For coaches conducting a verbal 360, the norm is to separate the manager feedback as stand-alone data and to combine the rest of the interview data.  This allows for the confidentiality of the participants to be protected while ensuring that manager feedback is delivered to the leader.

When debriefing all 360 assessments, it is crucial to remind the leader to honor and utilize the feedback, rather than attempting to determine the source and to berate those who gave data.

A consultant friend recently debriefed a 360 report with a senior executive.  The consultant left the premises feeling that the executive was somewhat reticent to embrace the feedback.  The next day, the consultant got a call from the HR department that reported the executive had gone back to the respondents asking, “Did you say this?”  “What did you mean?”  The consultant was mortified to hear that the executive was attempting to push people to admit to their feedback rather than accepting the data and moving forward with actions.  The consultant and HR leader both spoke with the leader and reaffirmed the need to hear and made adjustments based on the feedback rather than focus on understanding who gave what feedback.

In summary, assessments can provide a wealth of value for the leader and the organization.  Assessment data can assist in making selection decisions, identifying development needs and delivering valuable feedback.  To ensure a successful assessment process, having clear answers for the six questions above enables the assessment process to be set up for success.

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