Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Avoiding Leadership Development Snake Oil

When designing a leadership development program today’s training and development professionals have more content options than at any other time in history. This can be a tremendous benefit because there are a diverse number of solutions many of which are focused on specific training objectives or competencies. The lack of any consistent governing body to monitor the quality of psychometric assessments means that training and development professionals must use their own insight and experience and conduct thorough research to find an assessment that is safe to deploy to their organization or clients.  There are a lot of fly-by-night assessments and tools out there. At best these types of resources can be ineffectual and at worst can cripple any serious attempts at development.

Any training and development content provider that is worth their salt should be able and happy to provide the research and development information to support their assessment. The best content providers will also support their assessments with frequently updated normative data. As your organization explores content and tools for your next development efforts here are some questions you should be asking to help ensure you are using safe and proven resources:

Is the Assessment Valid?
Is the assessment really measuring what it claims to measure?  Assessments that are not research based will never be able to definitely prove that they are valid. The goal of any development program is to improve competency in certain skills. If you choose an assessment that is invalid at measuring those skills your development efforts can be thwarted.

Is the Assessment Reliable?
Is the assessment dependable? Are you sure that it’s working the same way every time? You would never buy a new car that started on some days but not on others. In the same way, you want to make sure that the assessment you choose for your leadership development program works reliably, every time. If you need an instrument that measures a stable factor in an individual’s personality over time, you don’t want to work with an assessment that gives participants radically different results each time they take it. The only way to ensure an instrument’s reliability is by using a research-based assessment.

Does the Assessment’s Support Materials Provide Context?
Does the assessment you’re working with collect and analyze normative data from previous respondents? Normative data provides a crucial element that helps participants understand their results. Knowing that 1% of the population shares your personality style, or that 23% of people working in the financial industry have a similar response to change, for example, helps participants contextualize and better understand their results. Using a research-based assessment backed by normative data guarantees deeper insights for your participants.

Selecting the right psychometric or leadership assessment can be challenging. That is why finding a partner that is transparent with their R&D is such a benefit for training and development professionals. There are a few high impact assessments in the marketplace that are backed by strong research and normative data but there is also a lot of snake oil. Hopefully these tips and your own good judgment will help you to pick the best assessment for your organization.

Learn More About DLI's Innovative Suite of Research Backed Leadership  Assessments!

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