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03.03 – Assessing Key Drivers of Performance

03.03 - Assessing Key Drivers of Performance
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With my friends down at the Center for Creative Leadership, we have discovered what I think, and based on our research, is the most effective and the most helpful framework for thinking about how to coach and develop your team, your team members. We call it the ACS model. If you can remember ACS, you can remember the three most important factors in determining whether or not you can effectively coach and develop your team. So I want to introduce this model to you, the ACS Model. A stands for assessment, C for challenge, S for support. And I wanna go through each of the elements, assessment, challenge, and support.
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And give you the tools, the strategies, the tactics that you can use to effectively assess your team, to effectively challenge them, and finally and very important, to support them as they grow and develop. So let’s begin with assessment. There are two critical questions that you must be able to answer when you think about assessing your team and the individual members within your team. The first question, when you think about assessment, is what are you going to assess, and why are you going to assess that particular dimension of the person or of the team? In the world of organizational development, leadership development, there are an infinite number of assessments on the market that you could use.
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There are an infinite number of dimensions that you could assess about individual team members.
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What you need to be able to do is figure out, what am I going to assess? And, more importantly, why am I going to assess that dimension of the person? I’ll give you an example. One of the most frequently assessed dimensions of teams and individuals within teams is personality. We’ve all probably taken some form of a personality assessment or personality test. You can even go on the Internet and just search personality test, and there are countless numbers that you can choose from to take.
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Personality is one of the most frequently assessed dimensions.
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The most common framework for assessing personality is what we call the big five. The big five are the most important five personality dimensions. Those are conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, extraversion, and neuroticism, or what some people might call emotional stability, depending on if you want the positive or negative. These five dimensions make up the big five, but look at the data that I’m presenting here. These data are taken from several different studies that, together, represent the most comprehensive data set on the impact of personality on outcomes that we care about at work. Whether it’s performance on the job, satisfaction, and what we call citizenship, which is another form of helping behavior.
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Or the extent to which I go above and beyond, outside of my normal job duties to add value to other people in the organization or the organization at large, again, what we call citizenship. So, here you have performance, satisfaction, and citizenship. And the impact of each of the big five personality dimensions on that work outcome, either positive or negative. And you’ll see differences in magnitude. And that’s the important thing I want you to pay attention to here is some personality dimensions are more important for certain outcomes. So for example, if you’re interested in an assessment to understand what’s gonna predict performance, you’re probably less interested in a dimension like openness.
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But you’re probably more interested in a dimension like conscientiousness which is typically a very strong predictor of performance. But what if you’re interested in citizenship or the degree to which someone’s gonna be a good team member and help out other team members when they need help or support? With citizenship conscientiousness is also important. But look at something like openness, where openness doesn’t predict satisfaction or performance as strongly, but it is a very strong predictor of citizenship or helping behavior. Again, the important thing to think about here, before you go into an assessment process for developmental reasons when you’re working with your team is, what do I need to develop? Have that determine what you’re interested in assessing.
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Make sure you have a rationale for understanding, I need to assess conscientiousness because I need to know what’s going to predict performance. Versus hey, I’m really gonna focus on assessing openness, because I’m really interested in understanding helping behavior, team work behaviors, what we call citizenship. So again, what are you assessing and why? Understanding that there’s lots of things you could assess. Making sure you have a clear rationale for what I want to assess and ultimately why.
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One of the articles that I’m very fond of, Peter Bregman wrote recently in the Harvard Business Review, Employees Can’t Be Summed Up by a Personality Test. And when I work with my clients around the world on assessment for leadership purposes, executive selection, one of the things that I get really concerned about is when I hear managers, when I hear executives, organizations talk about trying to sum up a particular individual by one, single personality test. And I get really concerned because, I agree with Peter here, you cannot sum up an individual by a single test. We often hear, you’re an ENTJ, from the Myers-Briggs personality test, or I’m a blue.
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A lot of these personality tests have colors associated with them, or names like you are a driver. To me those are very dangerous conclusions because you are making a statement about a whole person who is a very complex person with lots of different dimensions about them, lots of a different strengths, lots of different weaknesses. And we put these labels on people through these personality assessments. And to me, that’s very dangerous if you only start to think about that person in that way. I like to talk with my clients about using assessments as one input to a bigger conversation. We often have lots of data, lots of firsthand data, about our employees.
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It’s valuable to do assessments, but use the assessment as one input to a conversation. Does that assessment result match up with your lived experience with that individual? What are the differences? Why might those differences exist? If it’s a perfect overlap, great. Then that means that they’re probably a more valid assessment. But again, don’t make single conclusions off of one assessment about an individual. Do a range of assessments, based on things, dimensions, that you determine are important. And then use those assessments with your own experience with those individuals to really come to conclusions about what are that person’s strengths. What are that person’s weaknesses, and where are the opportunities for growth and development?
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The last word of caution that I want to give you is to be careful with your selection of assessments. On the market there are, as I said before, countless, infinite number of assessments available being sold by all different types of organizations. The question I often ask when I think about investing in one of those assessments to gather data on my employees, my talent, is I want to see the independent, and that word is important. The independent evidence that confirms that this assessment is both reliable and valid in giving me the information around, whether it be personality, learning style, work style, whatever I have determined is important for me to understand and assess.
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I need to make sure that there is evidence demonstrating that the assessment is going to give me both reliable and valid data about these individuals. So as you look out on the market of all the assessments that are available to you, always be thinking show me the evidence.
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Where’s the independent evidence confirming that this is a reliable and valid assessment of this dimension that I care about? Always ask that question.
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