<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Measure Potential When Making Promotions

January 12, 2007
Dear Eager to Know:
The good news is that you have a lot of available options. You are correct that full-blown assessment centers are a useful but expensive way to evaluate performance. They are almost always reserved for managerial positions because of the time and expense they require.
There are two related options to consider in your situation. The first is to employ some form of simple assessment measure to help you systematically evaluate your candidates for internal promotion. It is hard to determine exactly which type of assessment may be best for your situation without understanding more about the jobs you are trying to fill. However, tons of really good assessments are on the market to help hiring managers clearly understand an individual's capabilities. It is important to note that I am not recommending these assessments be used as the sole criteria for making hiring decisions. Rather, they should be viewed as a useful supplement to other information, including supervisory ratings and recommendations.
Your second option actually is a bigger picture strategy that leverages both the tactics you already use along with additional assessment tools. This involves using your performance management program as a strategic element of your internal hiring initiative. Again, it is hard to make specific recommendations without knowing more details, but in general data collected as part of a formal performance evaluation yields lots of valuable information to aid internal promotion decisions.
Assessments can play a key role in this strategy, since many organizations use assessment tools as part of the process for evaluating performance and for performance planning, coaching, etc. In fact, many organizations are using data collected from pre-employment assessments as a baseline from which performance planning and evaluation can begin. Again, it is important to point out that these assessments should never be the only source of information used to evaluate a candidate. In your situation, supervisors should be actively managing the performance of employees and should be aware of assessment results as part of this process.
I believe your current strategy--leveraging the experience and knowledge of supervisors--should continue to be a key part of your future strategy. The most important thing is to create a process whereby these individuals are able to consistently obtain quality information to help them understand their employees better and thus make better promotional decisions.
One final note: Promotional decisions tend to attract much more litigation than initial employment decisions do. For this reason it is important that you create a structured process for internal promotions that will allow you to document the key criteria used when making promotional decisions. The strategy outlined should help.
SOURCE: Charles A. Handler, PhD., president/founder, Rocket-Hire, New Orleans, March 22, 2006.
LEARN MORE: Please read how to use job descriptions to make "make more sensible job evaluations." Also, how to move away from paternalism toward a performance culture.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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