This is significant because there are few established practices to identify and develop high-potential employees. Companies struggle to identify the right candidates, provide meaningful development opportunities and retain talented employees. However, personality assessment is a cost-effective way to identify these employees and provide them with the strategic self-awareness they need to succeed before investing in development.
To understand how personality assessment can help, one must have a basic understanding of personality. It has two parts: identity and reputation. Identity is internal personality — how people see themselves. Because people create their identity, it changes over time and isn’t necessarily reflective of reality. Reputation is external personality — how others perceive a person. Reputation is easy to measure and tends to remain stable over time, which makes it a useful predictor of future job performance.
Reputation can be measured along two dimensions, the bright-side personality where people present their best — this determines leadership style, judgment and one’s ability to get along and get ahead; and the dark-side personality — characteristics that may be strengths under normal circumstances, but can become debilitating career obstacles under stress.
This dual approach to assessment provides a detailed, empirical platform on which companies can base their high potential selection and development programs.
Many companies rely on supervisor nomination, performance reviews and other traditional methods to identify high-potential candidates, but these methods are often colored by bias and organizational politics.
Personality assessment provides scientifically derived information about candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, leadership ability and values. Then managers can view candidates’ performance data and supervisor recommendations in the proper context, which can increase the success rate for high potential development programs.
Leadership development has come a long way in the past 40 years. Yet, according to Robert Hogan, industrial/organizational psychologist and founder and president of Hogan Assessments, a global personality assessment and leadership development company, the rate of executive failure is still more than 60 percent.
“The problem is a lack of self-awareness,” said Rodney Warrenfeltz, managing partner for Hogan. “For many people, there is an important disparity between identity and reputation that causes them to ignore feedback, deny their shortcomings and, ultimately, derail. Strategic self-awareness is about eliminating that disparity. Personality assessment provides a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses so you can build a focused development plan.”
A properly functioning high potential development program also can help retain talented employees.
“There is nothing more frustrating than investing in an employee who leaves the company before that investment pays off,” Warrenfeltz said. “So, companies tend to limit their investment.
Letting these people know you value them by investing in their future, assigning them stretch roles and mentors, and engaging a coach helps keep high-potential employees engaged and interested in their work.”
Without some empirical basis for selecting and developing leaders, companies are relying on luck. Personality assessment is a legal, valid and effective way to predict future leadership performance, and it can provide measurable ROI. Ryan Ross is vice president of global alliances at Hogan Assessments, a personality assessment and leadership development company. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.