Competency Based Assessment

What are Assessment Centres?

Assessment Centre does not refer to a physical place, instead it describes an approach. Assessment Centres are a means of helping an organization to identify the strengths and potential development areas of its employees in relation to a particular job or role on certain pre-determined qualities / traits.

Structured events are carefully planned (usually between 1 and 3 days) containing a series of exercises and activities with the objective of assessing competencies in a group of people through their observed behaviour and also their performance in certain tests. Various combinations of exercises and sometimes other assessment methods like psychometric testing and behavioural interviews are used to assess particular competencies in individuals.

What are Development Centres?

A Development Centre makes use of the information generated by an Assessment Centre to identify individual strengths and areas for development in order to identify developmental needs. This will help in effective job performance, career advancement, continuous assessment and development of internal capabilities leading to team and organizational development.

The use of Assessment and Development Centres in Industry

We have seen a rise in the use of Development Centres. The main reasons behind this have been the realisation that centres that have an element of selection decision making to them can have a demoralising effect on those individuals who have been deemed unsuccessful. Organisations have also come to realise that to be competitive, they must constantly invest in the development of their Employees in order to enable them to respond effectively to an increasingly uncertain marketplace. This has meant that rather than selecting new employees, organisations are now investing more in their existing workforce.

Traditionally, companies who wished to train their staff would send them on a training course external to the organisation, indeed many still do, but there has been an increasing emphasis placed on delivering training that is relevant to the organisation's needs and business objectives. A development centre run as part of an integrated training strategy is an excellent way of ensuring that training is carried out in a context of organisational relevance.

Another important use of development centres has been the widespread adoption of the idea of behavioural competencies in the human resource field, because development centres are designed around the job simulation format.

In an ADC, specific behaviours are observed and measured. This is different from a superior attempting to infer personal characteristics based on individual biases.

Why do organizations value Assessment and Development Centres?

  1. The emphasis is on potential (for the future) rather than achievement (of the past & present), though past performance can be used as one of the yardstick to identify employees with potential to take part in an Assessment Centre.
  2. They provide an objective and robust method of improving both the individual's and the organisation's, awareness of skills, strengths and gaps.
  3. They provide a unique opportunity to objectively observe and measure how people actually perform tasks, make decisions, relate to each other, and demonstrate self-awareness.

Instruments / Exercises used:

  1. Leaderless Group Discussion
  2. Case Study, Analysis, Presentation / Discussion
  3. Assigned Leadership
  4. In-Basket Exercise
  5. Structured Panel Interview / Behavioural Event Interview
  6. Role Play
  7. Business Game Simulation
  8. Group Simulation
  9. Written Communication
  10. Creativity Test
  11. Psychometric Test

What is the ideal number of Participants and Assessors?

The number of participants would vary in size from 8 to 16.

The number of facilitators would be as many as a 1:3 ratio with the participants, depending on client requirements.

Who are the Assessors?

In the initial stages, the assessors are generally external experts. Subsequently, potential assessors are identified within the Organisation and imparted relevant training by external agency. Then on, the Centres can use both internal and external assessors.

How are participants assessed?

The Assessment and Development Centre uses a behavioural model to determine participants level of management skills. Those assessing will not make inferences about what they think participants will do; instead, assessment is based on observable behaviours, i.e., what participants say and do. It is up to the participants to clearly communicate their plans and their underlying rationale so that they can receive credit for ideas in each exercise.

The "outputs" take the form of:

  • Notes written by facilitators based on observation against the competencies agreed
  • Rating of each competency
  • The results of the psychometric tests, if conducted

The outputs are discussed at the end of the event in a one-to-one meeting between participant and the facilitators.

The participant commits to agreeing a personal development plan with their manager, based on their assessed development needs.

The organisational norms, trends and the core training needs identified are reported to the organisation.

Why psychometric tests?
The tests used cover two main areas:

  • Measures aptitude and ability
  • Measures personality and values

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