What is assessment really about?
Reading Time of Article: 5 min
Every year that goes by, the term ‘assessment’ becomes a little more cloudy in our eyes. Depending on the audience concerned, but also on the perspective that some wish to provide, assessment indeed means so many different things.
From the point of view of the employee
Often, employees discover this assessment upon arriving in a company. The assessment then consists of a performance indicator, which mostly comprises quantitative indicators, as well as qualitative indicators. These objectives are generally linked to a variable, the employee. For this reason, s/he is made aware of assessments relatively early in his/her career. Nevertheless, it can take many forms: For the quantitative part, it involves Excel reporting, whereas the formats are more informal for the qualitative part. In summary, for employees, assessment is recognised mainly as objectives to be attained under the threat of financial penalties. By extension, the latter also relies on his/her quantitative performance to be considered for in-house progression.
From the perspective of Human Resources
For members of the human resources department, assessment is synonymous with the annual performance appraisal meeting. Indeed, the HR department is heavily solicited for this review which occurs annually, or even bi-annually for some companies. The ultimate objective is to make upper management aware of expressed skills development needs in order to organise the training plan for the coming year. Bear in mind that, within some structures, HR staff may work closely with managers to conduct annual interviews. Companies that have worked on Predictive Management of Jobs and Skills (GPEC in French) sometimes have a different approach: Assessing skills comes as an addition to the performance assessment requested by staff. Skills are then introduced to the company through the back door of HR, but with a more than strategic dimension for future skills needs, and also the employability of employees.
In the context of internal or external recruitment
Most companies use face-to-face interviewing during their recruitment process. Different people within the company’s structure evaluate the candidate based on his/her career path, the skills he/she claims to have mastered, as well as certain aspects about his/her personality. Of course, assessing skills seems easier when the employee has found an opportunity for in-house advancement. The notion of assessing potential often emerges at the beginning of a recruitment process. Of course, in this context, the company is looking to gauge the candidate’s potential to eventually progress within the structure. A candidate’s potential thus becomes an essential element to be evaluated. But what tools are available to detect potential? Because, by definition, potential denotes skills or aspirations in the making. Some French companies are now taking an Anglo-Saxon approach, integrating the idea of potential through People Reviews. Nevertheless, this approach only concerns the employees who can be assessed on the infamous performance indicators. This data rarely takes into account skills in the making or strategic interpersonal skills. As you will have gathered, the company is then inept at assessing potential. And that’s understandable. Indeed, automated tools and other tests seem very practical, but again, how can they identify the attitudes and behaviour which indicate an employee’s potential to progress into a managerial position?
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