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Is it Time to Re-Assess Your Key Leaders?

by Kathy Kurnyta on

Assessments are a widely-used tool for providing valuable insights on a person’s capabilities, and the resulting assessment report is a helpful guide in structuring a leader’s onboarding or development planAn assessment that involves multiple data points, such as the process we use at Vantage, which involves a structured interviews and psychometric testing, creates a robust picture of a leader’s strength and development opportunities relative to the context of the assessment need. These insights can be so powerful and useful that organizations come to rely on them for decision-making and development purposes.  

But assessment results are a snapshot in time. The information in the report will be less relevant as the person and context changes, especially as the leader makes progress on their development focus areas or if the business undergoes a shift. Therefore, conducting a re-assessment might seem like a valuable undertaking to provide fresh insights into a key leader’s capabilities and interestsI’ve been asked by several client organizations, When can we re-assess? 

It’s a very good question, and one without a clear answer. 

If you are wondering whether you should re-assess a leaderask yourself:  

  • What did you find most valuable about the first assessment? 
  • Is there any additional information that would be helpful for you? 
  • What are you hoping to gain out of the second assessment?  

Once you have a better idea of what needs you are trying to fulfil, then you can determine if a second assessment is a good tool to serve that need. 

Often, the situation surrounding the leader will suggest that the insights from a re-assessment would be valuable to the organization. In these situations, a rigorous assessment from an objective third-party may be the best solution. Consider the following scenarios: 

Is the leader struggling in his/her role?

If the leader was previously functioning at a high level and is experiencing changes in their performance and behavior, an assessment can help identify what factors could be contributing to this disconnectThe assessment may identify new gaps in skills that are needed for success in the role.   

Did the leader’s responsibilities change in the role?

If the job duties and responsibilities have significantly changed, this might be an opportunity to identify if the leader is still a good fit for the positionAn assessment can help with the development of new skills that are needed by identifying gaps and strengths relative to the new responsibilities 

Have there been changes to the business?

Like all businesses, our clients are experiencing changes due to a variety of factors – disruptions from technology advancements or increased competition; or going public through an IPO. It’s important to consider whether these changes require a different type of leadership. For example, if the business previously required a collaborative leader and recent changes have created a need for a strategic visionary looking to push the envelope and take risks, the leader may no longer be the best fit for the role and an objective, robust assessment can help evaluate the leader’s fit to the new situation 

Has the business grown significantly?

If there has been enough growth in the business, the question again becomes whether the right type of leader is in the role, and whether the leader is ready for a new opportunity or increased responsibility  

Have the leader’s interests evolved?

If the leader has been in the same role for a notable amount of time (e.g., three or more years) without a formal assessment, a reassessment can help identify new interests and aspirations and help determine if the leader is best utilized in his/her current position.  

When a Full Re-Assessment is Not the Right Choice

However, in certain situations conducting a full re-assessment may not be a viable option for your organization. If your answer is “no” to all of the considerations noted above, then perhaps a full-scale assessment is not required to meet your goals. Moreover, other situational constraints, such as time, price, and availability may also prevent a rigorous re-assessment from being an appropriate option. There are a couple of alternatives that may be a better fit instead: 

Focused Talent Reviews

This consists of gathering the leader’s boss and HR leaders to discuss the needs of the business, the talents of the leader, and where the leader can be best deployed in comparison to other leaders who may be available.  

This may also include coaching the boss to engage with the leader in a career conversation to explore how he/she can best serve the business and continue to grow as a leader. Gauge their interests in other roles and development opportunities. Using our Accelerated Development Model provides an excellent framework for this conversation.  

Pulse Surveys

Rather than conducting a full assessment, it might be more appropriate to conduct surveys that target the leader’s performance against key behaviors and leadership skills. This approach is particularly effective in assessing if any change or progress has been demonstrated since their first assessment.  

Development is an ongoing process and not a single event, and as such, there are benefits to re-assessing key leaders. In addition, re-assessment provides an opportunity to track behavior change, and acknowledging the leader’s change efforts by continuously measuring and evaluating their skill set can be a motivating factor. However, a full-scale assessment, involving interviews and multiple diagnostic interviews, might not be the right fit for every situation. Considering what you want the assessment to achieve is the best way to determine what solution will be most appropriate. 

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