We have recently been interviewing CEOs who have successfully led major change initiatives to ask them about the secrets of their success. It was no surprise that many highlighted the importance of engaging directly with leaders in the middle of the organisation to ensure that they fully understand and are aligned with the strategy. And the most successful CEOs spent time making sure they had the right middle leaders who could role model what the strategy means in terms of the desired culture change and behaviours.
But what did surprise us was that most of the CEOs were pretty unhappy with how their organisations had gone about assessing who is, and is not ‘talented’ and they were often disappointed about the lack of emphasis on finding people with not just the right skills but most importantly, the right behaviours. One CEO said he was ‘deeply frustrated with what I saw as very outdated ways of looking for talent based on their school results and University degree – I wasn’t interested in that, what I wanted to know was do they buy into our strategy and our ways of working?’ This adds another headache in that people who are brought into organisations who are not a good fit, often get rotated out or leave, leading to lots of unnecessary costs and wasted time.
Leaders of the highest performing and most sustainably successful organisations show an ability to engage with ambiguity and change, and to create clarity for others in what success looks like. But then they need the right people to support them in driving it through. Why is this not happening in many organisations? Have we lost something somewhere in the recruitment and talent process? Is speed taking over from depth of analysis?
In our opinion, having a robust assessment process especially for the most critical roles is a differentiator for success in creating a shared vision of culture change. Focusing in on the key behaviours that candidates need to role model helps test alignment of potential hires (or promotions) with the desired future state in how they operate. This can also help existing employees understand what is required of them in terms of development (or even leveraging strengths to a greater degree) in their current roles as part of a culture change.
Focusing in on the key behaviours that candidates need to role model helps test alignment of potential hires (or promotions) with the desired future state in how they operate.
To find out how people will really perform in role, you need to understand them at a deep level, not just in terms of what expertise and experience they have, but how they can apply their skills and knowledge over time and in a context where people engagement is more critical than ever before.
To get to this deep level of understanding, we believe an evidence based, behavioural approach to assessment is essential in providing this clarity.
Let’s not use speed at the expense of getting the right person in the right role. Doing this well will ensure people are more fulfilled in roles, and can contribute to overall organisational success much sooner.