Do the Right Thing (with Assessments)

By on April 15, 2008
Do the Right Thing (with Assessments)

How can a structured hiring process assist companies in finding top talent? Ask our client ABB what they did…

As one of the world’s leading engineering companies, ABB helps customers use electrical power effectively and helps them increase industrial productivity in a sustainable way. The local St. Louis transformer manufacturer made an investment in the hiring process in 2004. The quality of hires into entry level positions had been sporadic at best and the leadership at ABB felt a dramatic change in the hiring process was warranted. The results have been nothing less than profound.

Many of the individuals hired through the assessment process have become star performers for the organization. Dave Cain, Director of Operations, notes that, “We are hiring smarter people who are more ready to do the job.” He goes on to say, “When I look back, I think that we have let maybe one person go that passed the assessment process because of poor performance.” John Edwards, Director of Human Resources for the plant, concurs. “Turnover is way down and we continue to get high quality individuals into our open positions.” It is clear that ABB considers the positive effects well worth the investment.

Organizations that hire people based on subjective impressions are likely to struggle due to poor performance and mismanagement of human capital. In a recent survey of 700 U.S. executive managers, Saville Holdsworth Limited (SHL) found that each loses an average of 34 days a year managing poor performers – employees who are not meeting the established performance standards of the organization. This translates to approximately one hour a day for each manager, or 12 percent of their time! Imagine how much more productive these managers could be if they didn’t have to worry about poor performers.

Creating a process to weed out poor performers is not as difficult as it would seem. The process begins with a thorough job analysis where essential knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for success in the position are identified. This information is categorized into simple, well defined groups, or competencies. Then a trained professional begins matching potential assessments with competencies to establish validity and determine cut-scores. A structured interview often follows to assess other softer skills. The smaller pool of candidates who are interviewed have already been screened for necessary technical knowledge and skills. If an individual does well at this stage, the organization has the added assurance that he/she has what it takes to effectively contribute.

The final result of the process is a legally defensible, effective tool that ensures those who effectively pass the screening process have the skills and abilities necessary to perform at an acceptable level.

For more information on the assessment process and how it might benefit your organization, please contact Lou Gerst.

About Lou Gerst

Lou is the Practice Leader for Strategic Talent Development with the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College.

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