Assessments: No, digital isn’t the solution to everything !

The digitalisation of processes in business has been become more and more prevalent in recent years. Of course the HR function is impacted by digital transformation: areas including training, payroll, recruitment and assessment have been through profound changes.

From paperless payroll to predictive recruitment and the regular use of HR Information Systems (HRIS), there is no shortage of examples of evolution and change in the HR area. This can be seen both by the ever-increasing number of digital Tools available and by constant development of processes. The impact of digital change is undeniable: it can be a source of efficiency and productivity. It permits a more collaborative way of working, can reinforce employer branding strategies and allows ongoing optimisation of the entire function, as well as a way of handling more data, more quickly.

That said, can digitalisation on its own provide an answer to all the problems faced by an HR department? What is the place of the human factor in a digitalised support function?

The example of assessments: the human factor

To measure the competence and the potential of an individual there are many reliable online tools available which can ensure the pertinent collection of data and information. Aptitude tests, personality and motivation questionnaires which make comparisons with reference groups, coupled with information gleaned from professional social networks, can give a photograph of an individual at a particular moment in time. But this really isn’t enough. During an assessment (or development) centre a consultant will use role plays, interactive exercises and case studies, in addition to online tests and questionnaires, to enable her to evaluate the aptitude for success in a particular context or to be able to meet specific objectives.

Definition of the assessment:

Assessment is the name for an approach used to measure the capacity of participants with the objective of evaluating the eventuality of success in a particular context or to be able to meet specific objectives. It describes an approach to evaluation of potential based on a number of factors and is facilitated by experts who take both know-how and interpersonal skills of the participant into account in a structured and objective way.

Practically speaking, in a recruitment context, digital tools have their limits and the human factor is key in making recommendations. The experience and the expertise of a consultant in assessment will bring some nuance to the results, will personalise and explain them beyond what is possible with automated reports. The consultant brings an all-inclusive and objective approach. She will take the career path and the aspirations of the participant into account, as well as his way of reacting to complex situations under time pressure, and will put this into the context of his potential to develop further. The consultant will contextualise the results according to the challenges of the post, the business sector and the culture of the client company. In short, thanks to her real-life experience she will add credibility and reliability to the recommendations.

When in a development context, the algorithmic analysis of data makes it possible to produce automated reports with suggestions of development actions. These suggestions are based on the replies by the individual to a questionnaire and therefore they have their limits and can be subjective. The value added of an assessment/development consultant lies in their capacity to explain the results in such a way that the participant buys in to them and translates them into workable action plans. The consultant ensures that realistic and measurable steps are defined, helping the participant set up a strategy for success. To support this approach, she will propose appropriate accompanying actions, which might include coaching, training and on-the-job assignments.

The consultant must also take cultural factors into account during the Centre. The level of understanding of the process can vary from one country to another or from one continent to another. A company with operations in several countries will have to be aware of the issues which can arise across borders. The cultural aspect can be crucial. Involving consultants with experience in assessment and development centres at an international level is an absolute necessity.

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