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Blog Posts

What Are You Measuring?

Posted by Bill Crose on September 13, 2019 at 11:33am 1 Comment

A lifetime ago, my training department colleagues and I were satisfied with training data. We cranked out the requested ILT programs plus the "flavor of the year" content, we kept a busy training schedule, and made sure the coffee was always the right temperature. When accused of not delivering effective training because the learners didn't perform as they were trained, we took refuge in our management support role and not ultimately responsible or accountable for LEARNING or productivity.…



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Moderator: Lisa Fey -

Remarkable Speaker: Stephanie Crowe

Formal and informal assessments have been in use for a long time. What standards have emerged? Do we need standards?

What is the role of self- assessments?

Within the Georgia LEARNS crowd-designed model for Workforce Readiness we advocate for self-assessment based on understanding one's preferences related to two factors:

  1. How do you prefer to make decisions?
  2. How do you prefer to influence others?

In our "puzzle analogy" - these relate to the parts of puzzle pieces that accept input from others (the indents) and the puzzle pieces that reach out to others (the projections.)

  • How do you prefer to use assessments?
  • What challenges do assessments present?
  • What benefits/challenges are there with self-assessments?

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What do you believe is the best people assessment tool?

There are so many to choose from - Birkman, Caliper, DISC, HBDI, BEST - I am looking for a tool for the executive level or at least a leadership level. What process has worked for you to determine the best tool for your environment?

Assessment is a very broad topic, and in the context of Georgia Learns I think we are looking at how assessment might impact job performance. I am definitely a believer in the power of assessment, particularly for leadership development and in the hiring process. I am most familiar with assessment protocols and instruments for assessing senior executives - whether to help an individual leader gain insight as part of a coaching process or helping a company choose the best candidate for a senior position. In that setting assessment instruments simply add to the information the company has other sources - experience, education, early interview performance, recommendations, etc. Human beings are complex, and assessment instruments just give us additional information. 

The basics of assessment in a selection setting are true despite the level, though: whatever assessment tool you use must be shown to be predictive of job performance in the role you're hiring for, and that's what makes any assessment tool valid and legally defensible. Josh Bersin, an HR analyst and researcher ( see this article on the basics of pre-hire) has used a simple example of 3 scenarios for hiring typists. In the first scenario, the company uses GPA for hiring a typist, but research shows that has no correlation with typing speed and is not predictive of success. Experience in an administrative position is a bit more predictive, but the best predictor is a typing test - speed on a typing test is very predictive of success as a typist. A personality test that measures agreeableness and attention to detail might also prove to be predictive of success in an administrative setting.

For leadership assessment - when trying to predict performance at a senior executive level - assessment methods and instruments have to predict leadership performance. Exhaustive job history interviews and structured behavioral interviews asking about prior situations, actions, and results are typical. Personality assessments used for leadership need to be valid for use in the workplace - they have to have been shown to predict workplace leadership performance. We often use the Occupational Personality Quotient 32 (massive data allows prediction of eight universal workplace competencies), the 16 PF (another robust personality tool), the Hogan Motives, Values, and Preferences Inventory (which we use for help with organization culture match), and the Hogan Development Survey. The HDS measures aspects of personality that can cause a leader to derail as they move up in an organization. Measures of critical thinking (such as the Watson Glaser) and emotional intelligence. We have found the HDS particularly helpful, especially for helping identify red flags in a candidate who is a smooth and polished interviewee.

Click here to see one of our presentations on succession that includes information on assessment protocols for high potentials and CEO succession. The US government Office of Personnel Management also is a good source for information on assessment.

It would be interesting to know what assessments the members of the panel and the Remarkable Speakers use and are knowledgeable about. 

Hello Chuck,

I have personally taken DISC, MBTI, Birkman, Strengths Finder, XB Insights, The Judgment Index (and several others). In my role at Randstad I primarily use DISC and XB Insights (as well as the Panoramic or Hay 360) for leadership development. 

I typically use assessments for leader self-awareness and the development of Individual Development Plans, as well as for team building, coaching and communication strategies for leaders with their teams.

I hope that helps.


Hello Chuck,

We utilize the FourSight Thinking Profile which assesses an individual's preference for different stages of the creative problem solving process.  This is an innovation assessment and allows individuals, teams, and leadership to be more strategic about critical thinking and creativity.  We use this as a foundation to help organizations strengthen their innovation initiatives as it helps by imparting practical problem solving skill.  It is also one of the quickest ways to demonstrate that everyone has a role to play in their organization's innovation efforts.  If individuals are familiar with their specific preference and how it contributes to organizational innovation, typically they are open for additional problem solving skills to maximize their creative output.

Let's find a way!


As a recruiter for 25 years, I have used many tools to assess candidates for our clients. I have also seen assessments used by some of my clients and so I am familiar with the offerings and changes they have made over the years.

On some retained searches we would map out the team, using an assessment tool that was based on DISC and map the scoring on a pie chart. This gave us a visual dynamic of the team.

One of the issues I have seen with the use of these tools is actually what I consider to be the misuse of them. (My opinion only) 

They can be used to exclude people from a job. 

Assessments should be used, essentially as a management tool. Not to say that Psychological evaluations, administered by a professional, can't be used in this way, but I have seen candidates eliminated for sales positions, because of a DISC test result, saying they were not a fit, then watching them end up a top sales person for a competitor. 

Why? Well the laid back person, was not a hard closer, but certainly a relational seller who was highly effective.

Executive / Leadership Assessments are something we use to find a fit for the team, and that is mapping, but the true assessment of the right leader for any organization should be constructed more on an essay level, does this make sense? 

We had a client who was looking for a new CEO and they all got together for a retreat, and discussed the vision, the culture and future of the firm. Everyone of the management level had input and then they developed a list of questions that would elicit answers, in essay form, that would expose the ethics and decision making process as well as the vision / dreams that the potential leader had.

Surprising results that developed from this. 

To sum up (my opinion): Assessments are a management tool at best. Each organic group of people, is an entity of it's own and needs to construct a needs analysis, then develop a way to extract the information needed to gather the info to make the best decision. 

I boil this down to three things:

Do you like each other, do you trust each other, and can you earn a living together. This would be the basis of any construct for deciding if you have a good leader or executive.

Everything else is a shortcut and unreliable. 

I like what you wrote, Fred. Especially the last part. Thanks for posting.

I'm not a great proponent of predictive assessments mainly because the goals always seem to be finding the right "Fit" for roles & organizations, then justifying choices based on assessment results. If you look across the top of the Fortune 500, you'll see who these assessments have helped select as the right "Fit". Then, you have to assume what happens at the top spreads throughout the organization. The top of the Fortune 500 defines who "Fits" top roles in the US. Is it coincidental that 95% are male and the female population on that list dropped 25% this year alone? Is it coincidental that 90% are above average height? Did the assessments really weed out all but 3 African-Americans based on non-racial factors? Is there really not a single AA woman willing & able to run a Fortune 500 company? Clearly, women, African-Americans, and others aren't found to "Fit" top roles. And clearly, the assessments or administration of those assessments used to aid CEO selection failed to find the best qualified candidates in at least some cases.  

While an assessment can be perfectly devoid of bias, any assessment can be administered with bias, which renders it useless. In the Fortune 500 CEO case, whatever selection processes are used clearly support gender & racial bias. I'm waiting for the lawsuits against corporations using "Fit" as a valid & reliable job requirement. Imagine all the data courts could pull from assessment results.

I think the trust part of your comment is key. Trust encompasses capability. I can make a living with capable people that I wouldn't want to spend the weekend with, but I must trust them. I can actually think of far more people I'd love to work with but don't like well enough to spend the weekend. Just for fun, that list includes nearly all the automotive engineers and programmers I know. In all fairness, all the automotive engineers I know would prefer working in their garages over a weekend than hanging out with me! And all the programmers would prefer to be gaming.

Actually the only part of the information within a selection process that can be non-discriminatory is that derived from a sound psychometric instrument designed for that purpose. You are correct in that the vast majority of assessments do not meet those standards and that even then, the manner in which they are used can be flawed. That does not mean that the capability does not exist. With DATA, people see job capabilities, not sex, race, disabilities or other subjectively visible factors. For the person, it is often the first time they defined their value in terms of their strengths without connection to possibly limiting factors. 

Thanks, Chuck! We have lots of common ground. A quick story:

Long ago, I was a retail store department manager in Normal, Illinois. Every year we had a big sweepstakes drawing around Christmas time. Customers threw a paper with their names, addresses, phone numbers into a box, which we drew from at the end of the sweepstakes. To keep things honest, 3 managers were chosen to execute the drawing; I was the most junior chosen. The first name was drawn. That person came in for a big refund once; his name went into the trash. Second name drawn. That person lived in a "rich" part of town & was deemed unworthy of winning. Third name was drawn. WINNER!!! 

There are over 80,000 occupationally-related assessments in the English language. The vast majority of these are based on outdated psychological models. Many use psychometric methodologies that have long been abandoned by serious psyshometricians. Few people understand the qualitative differences in these many products. The reality is that assessment products are like typewriters and slide rules. They still work but not as well as what replaced them. Visit this site to learn more about the qualitative evolution of assessments: 

There is no selling…just knowledge.

The problem with using older generations of assessments is that they do not offer the extraordinary possibilities that are available with the latest generations. 

Some thoughts in advance of the session … I'll also share, as best I can, the integrative comments from after our panelists gathered their table groups ...


Before we get started, I just have one question to ask – is there going to be a test?

Being a lover of learning, I’ve sought assessment possibly every which way a person can pursue – though of course I always loved taking tests as a kid.  Yes, I’m one of those.  See, I’m a good guesser – able to guess what the teacher was getting at when they asked a question, able to see around those trick questions in the standardized tests – I know, they don’t have those anymore (the trick questions), but this was back in the day. 


Now, there are assessments for personality type, for behavior type, for innovation style, conflict style and negotiation style.  There are technical skills assessments, intelligence tests, coding tests and hacker tests.  There are algorithms being written even now to determine whether your child is most likely to be the next brilliant doctor or multi-millionaire entrepreneur, based on big data, AI (artificial intelligence), and comparing your profile to those who have succeeded in these roles before.

One of my favorite descriptions, was from one such assessment:  Some assessments measure what you know. Some measure how you think. And some measure what you’ll actually do.


But why?  What’s the point?  Is it our addiction to ranking, or winning, to see how and where we fit?  Who’s better?  Who’s best?  That may be why we do them as individuals, but businesses – is that why they do it?  To force rank?  To separate the best?  To select the best?  Hire?  Promote?  Provide a better merit bonus to?  How does it all add up?  Is there an equation that puts them all together for a magic assessment of the meaning of one’s life?  Is it 42?  

I’ll share with you my favorite math equation that’s not really a math equation. 

Competence + Motivation = Performance

Just because you know how to do something, doesn’t mean you’ll do it.  And just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean you can.  Brilliant, right?  42! 

But let’s put this together, because this is where it gets interesting.

Competence + Motivation = Performance

There are assessments for competence.  And there are assessments for what you’d be motivated to do. But will you?  And if both of these occur, it is necessarily true and predictably factual that you will perform? 


There are really two reasons, in my opinion, that assessments exist. One of them is to predict performance.  This is the external view – the reason for the assessor.  This is what companies do, in the hopes that by assessing folks they’ll be able to predict the top performers.  But history has taught us that in fact the very best performers are often the outliers.  Not the predictable ones.  They’re the ones who would be – and have been - kicked out by standardized tests.


The other reason for assessment is: to plan development.  The is the internal view – the reason for someone to pursue being assessed themselves. 

Still, we just said that performance only exists with competence and motivation.  But here’s the trick.  The assessor can’t truly know the motivation piece – only the individual can.  So let’s follow this, and think about the individual, in pursuit of development.


There’s a big push in the classroom today, and I think it’s true in corporate classrooms as well – we expect students to show up READY TO LEARN.  Would you say, that on any given day, you show up READY TO LEARN?  I’ve had several a rousing argument with colleagues about whether training can create motivation, which I believe it can.  It’s difficult to see the full picture for those of us who are natural learners, and motivated to learn before breakfast (but maybe not before coffee.)

Now, folks not being ready to learn has, in the past, confused me, since I’ve always been a hungry learner.  But ‘ready’ has a lot to do with what you are trying to learn when

Case in point.  If you ask most 2-3 year old's if they know how to read they say, "Yes, I can!"  And they take a book and turn the pages, looking at the pretty designs and pictures, sometimes telling their own version of the story.

If you ask the same 3-year-old if they know how to drive, they will say "Sure I can!" and show how driving is done – by turning the steering wheel.  This student is not ready to learn. 

Most teenagers also believe driving is this easy, until they get into a standard transmission car.  There’s nothing like that moment when they lift their foot off the clutch, and start to press on the gas, only to get the shocking lurch – cla-clunk!  And that’s when they’re ready to listen to guidance.  This is a sort of Performance Assessment, that creates readiness to learn.  If we do not become self-aware of our own lack of skill – through assessment – we can never be open to learn.

Now, when you go to drive, you will do it naturally without thinking, probably in third gear before you’ve even realized what you are doing.    

TENET: WHY ASSESS? Know Thyself.

For me, it really comes down to the number one tenet of leadership, and perhaps even of all human growth.  It’s something that assessment helps us to achieve, and the reason I have sought out assessment – from the TKI to the MBTI, DISC to the Enneagram, Birkman, LPI, SitLead, Kolbe-A and PMI, IQ, EQ, GMAT, SAT and everything else under the sun.   

Know Thyself.  Truly the one goal we should all have on earth is to discover our gifts, our talents, and apply them well to our work and the world around us.  So – is anyone up for a test?


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