Research has shown that feedback is an effective way for individuals to gain insight into their need to change or develop. It permits participants to understand themselves more fully and to see the impact of their style and behavior on others and on goal attainment. The development process allows the manager or internal coach to help individuals take a more objective perspective. Using an assessment during this process results in a credible and more accurate self awareness. Raising self awareness is critical for employees to take ownership for changing behaviors (Riggio, 2008). For example, development assessments uncover blind spots: areas of weakness that were unknown to the participant. Participants are likely to learn about hidden strengths: skills or competencies that can be further leveraged or adapted for future roles.
After feedback is received and digested, an action plan should be developed. The action plan includes follow up activities with a boss, coach or a mentor; activities are guided by the insights gained from the report. Ongoing development, as a result of assessment, is a way to keep good employees engaged. It is also useful for grooming individuals for advancement.
Managers are more likely to coach in a scenario where they have solid assessment data. Developmental assessment gives the employee’s manager the tools and language to support the coaching and reduces defensiveness on both sides. By having access to the participant’s report and participating in collaborative action planning, the manager and participant lay out a road map for continuous development that allows for accountability. In fact, research shows that when developmental action plans are based on data from executive assessments, they are more targeted and effective.
Succession planning has become an increasing area of investment in best practice. The development process lays the foundation for a career trajectory and uncovers possibilities beyond the current position. For example, our clients have used data from the developmental assessment process to feed into round table discussions of performance and potential in the talent management process. The intersection of current job performance and the potential found in the assessment report is a powerful place to have conversation about the evolving organizational chart.
Individual development also improves team functioning. When members of a department or team participate in development, the team performance is likely to improve and experience value-added perceptions from the rest of the organization.
Finally, the organizational benefits of developmental assessments are well documented. Companies that invest in the development of their leaders are better able to adapt to and deal with change. Effective leaders are able to deal with a variety of changing circumstances and are more likely to ensure organizational survival and prosperity.