Development Center vs. Assessment center. What’s the difference?
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A notion closely linked with that of assessment centre is that of development centre. The objective may be different, but the line between these two approaches is not always clear-cut. First, the aim of assessment centre is to assess (future) employees individually to highlight their skills and potential. The aim of development centre is also to work on the strengths of an individual and develop the scope of what is possible in terms of strengths and postures.
A tried and tested method and a double objective
Assessment centre was, however, initially designed to assess aptitudes, based on the behaviour adopted during professional simulations. Indeed, by observing individuals while they are working, the information obtained can lead to a precise individual diagnosis on the mode of functioning of the person being assessed. Assessment centre can also decode underlying mechanisms of their mode of functioning and observe the impact of these behaviours on other interlocutors. After these professional scenarios, feedback sessions are organised. The assessor chats with the person being assessed to pass on what he/she noticed and understood about him/her. This gives participants a better understanding of themselves, and helps them to identify their strengths and areas for improvement. The self-image of the person being assessed may be questioned.
This feedback is usually a good starting point for making initial recommendations for development. In reality, all assessments almost systematically bring about a process for possible development. Development centre is, therefore, a wonderful starting point for preparing support. Assessment is part of an approach to reveal the talents of the person being assessed to help him/her to develop. Used for different outcomes such as determining the potential of your teams or fostering the loyalty of your most talented employees, development of a person starts with a precise diagnosis, namely an assessment. This explains why the concepts of assessment and development are closely linked. And consequently, why assessment and development centre concepts are closely linked.
When should assessment centre be used?
To detect the potential during recruitment and/or during an internal selection process: Assessment centre is a complete method that assesses the known skills of the person and his/her potential. The aim is to obtain concrete and factual information on how an individual goes about completing a task, whether cognitively, organisationally or managerially.
To determine which step to take next in the career of an employee: Though this approach is not intended to define a professional project, it can be a starting point for initiating the thought process on missions and roles within the organisation, based on established skills and a skill that may be subsequently developed thanks to specific support. The approach takes into account an employee’s personal aspirations, but is not based on them. Furthermore, the approach is person cantered, and is not about the current situation of the labour market.
Creating a talent map: Developing talent is the key to effective human resource management. An assessment requires thought about individual development needs, the choice of training or various existing methods. It is sometimes difficult to imagine some employees in a new context or company perspective that needs to be changed. However, it is strategic for the company to have a clear vision of the skills it has and to know how to position them in a new organisation.
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