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How to Use Assessments for Talent Development

“One of the greatest talents of all is the talent to recognize and to develop talent in others.”

Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State

According to a survey of more than 800 human resources (HR) professionals, the top three organizational priorities HR leaders have set for this year (2023) are as follows: organizational and change management (53%), employee experience (47%), and recruiting (46%).[1] What each of these processes has in common is talent development. Organizational and change management includes strategic initiatives like succession planning, which is heavily dependent on a strong leadership pipeline and ongoing talent development process. Employee experience is also dependent on talent development opportunities; in a survey by Prudential Financial, lack of growth opportunities was listed as the second leading reason people were looking for a new job (cited by more than 20% of respondents).[2] Therefore, in addition to employee experience, recruitment is also heavily dependent on talent development opportunities.

If an organization has a strong process for identifying and developing talent, it will be able to manage organizational change, sustain a positive employee experience, and recruit and retain top talent. But talent development is a time-consuming endeavor. How can managers juggle this large-scale strategic process alongside their already long list of high priorities? The answer lies with talent assessments. In this article, we will explain what talent assessments are, who should use them, and how talent assessments can be used to support a powerful talent development process.

What is a Talent Development Assessment?

The term “talent development assessment” refers to any scientifically-validated evaluation that an employer may administer to current and prospective employees to provide insights into a candidate’s on-the-job performance, cognitive abilities, learning styles, behaviors, attitudes, emotional intelligence, leadership traits, strengths, and areas for development. Organizations that use robust talent assessments are empowered with the knowledge to make better choices and help their employees achieve their full potential. The use of talent assessments lead to improved hiring success rates, lower employee turnover, increased employee engagement and productivity, and a resilient corporate culture.

There are two main types of talent development assessments, self-assessments and  360-degree assessments. A self-assessment is exactly what it sounds like — it is taken by the candidate themselves. A 360-degree assessment includes respondents in addition to the candidate, such as a manager, peer, and direct report. In this way, 360-degree assessments provide a holistic view of performance.

Talent development assessments are different from selection assessments because they are designed to help leaders measure current performance rather than predict future potential. Because they are used to support development, talent development assessments are usually administered multiple times to track long-term progress and quantify improvement. Selection assessments are usually only administered once.

Finally, talent development assessments used for selection and development differ in that test-takers normally do not see their results when an assessment is used for selection, whereas the results of assessments used for development are almost always shared with the test-taker as part of the development process.

Who Should Use a Talent Development Assessment?

Talent development assessments are appropriate for organizations that want to ensure objectivity is embedded within their talent development process. Broadly, this may include three groups of individuals:

  1. HR professionals and other leaders who are involved in their organization’s talent development or performance management process. This includes managers, team leads, and departments heads.
  2. Coaches, counsellors, or consulting firms.
  3. Individuals who want to support their own self-guided development — especially those employed by organizations that do not have a formal talent development process in place.

Note: Different assessments have different qualification levels required to administer and interpret a report. Before purchasing an assessment, be sure that whoever will be administering or interpreting the assessment has the right levels of qualification. For clients using SIGMA’s assessments, you can find your qualification level here.

Types of Talent Development Assessments

There are many different types of talent development assessments. Common measures include personality, leadership, emotional intelligence, and 360-degree assessments. The type of assessment used depends on the needs of the organization. For example, if an organization has a character-based culture and a strong set of values, they may opt to use an assessment like the Leadership Character Insight Assessment, which assesses general leadership competencies, but does so in the context of leadership character.

How to Use a Talent Development Assessment?

Talent development assessments should not be used as a one-off tool for development. The best talent development processes are ongoing and embedded into the organization’s existing processes for hiring, onboarding, training, performance management, and promotion. Talent development is a long-term commitment to tracking performance and monitoring progress. Therefore, assessments should be used on a regular basis, in the context of a structured talent development process. This may include initiatives such as high-potential development, coaching, or succession planning.

In each of these scenarios, talent assessments are used to inform the decision-making process:

  • First, the assessment is used to determine who will be placed on a special track, such as high-potential (HIPO) talent development.
  • Then, assessment results are used to help individuals understand their own development opportunities and decide which they would like to pursue first.
  • Talent development assessments are also used to help leaders understand how to support their employees one-on-one. Leaders may use these assessments to determine what development opportunities are best suited for each individual member of their team.
  • Finally, talent development assessments can be used to help organizations understand the big picture needs for talent development among employees. This may allow management to provide appropriate large-scale development opportunities. For example, if 80% of leaders struggle with strategic planning or facilitating teamwork, management may choose to run a strategic planning workshop, or create a system for recognizing and rewarding leaders who take time to build strong teams.

Ready to Get Started?

SIGMA offers several talent development assessments built to help you develop your leaders for tomorrow. Our assessments are simple, scientifically validated, and reliable screening tools. Browse our catalogue of assessments or start with the Leadership Success Profile – Revised™ (LSP-R) . The LSP-R is a personality-based assessment that uses advanced algorithms to score test-takers on the 50 competencies in SIGMA’s Leadership Competency Framework. The LSP-R is built on years of rigorous development efforts and is useful for guiding employee and leader development efforts. To see a sample Focus Report, click on the button below. If you’re ready to get started, place an order or contact us today.

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Glen oversees SIGMA’s sales and marketing activities. As a skilled presenter and trainer, he has designed and delivered engaging workshops and webinars for senior managers and HR professionals. Glen knows our material inside and out, and can tell you first-hand stories of the work SIGMA has done with its clients. If you are interested in learning more about SIGMA’s succession planning services, send him an email or give him a call! He’d love to chat with you.

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[1] EHS Today Staff. (October 27, 2022). Changing Talent Strategies for 2023. EHS Today. Retrieved from https://www.ehstoday.com/safety-leadership/article/21253535/changing-talent-strategies-for-2023.

[2] Newman, R. (December 14, 2021). Maybe bad bosses are causing the worker shortage. yahoo! finance. Retrieved from https://finance.yahoo.com/news/maybe-bad-bosses-are-causing-the-worker-shortage-205009054.html.

About the Author

Helen Schroeder

Marketing Coordinator

Helen completed a dual degree with Ivey Business School’s HBA program and Western University’s Honours Specialization in Psychology. As a Marketing Coordinator and Consultant she creates and manages content for SIGMA’s webpages, blogs, and coaching resources. Helen also assists in new product development, go-to-market strategy, and client consultation.