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Three components of sustainable assessment initiatives

By Greg Barnett, PhD

Once a decision is made to incorporate an assessment tool into your organization, one question that invariably comes up is, “Where should the solution live within the company?” Some would suggest that maybe management or operations should own it. From a process efficiency and affordability standpoint, it would also seem reasonable to consider placing it in the capable hands of HR. But perhaps even more important than determining where the assessment should live is understanding how the assessment will be implemented and supported within the organization and throughout its lifecycle.

Tool + Process + People = The Assessment Initiative Trifecta

Organizations that typically experience the greatest adoption and success rates with assessments are ones that approach them as initiatives with well-thought-out processes – from identifying areas of use through to education and everything in between – with designated process owners who are ultimately responsible for driving benefits throughout the organization.

In these cases, it’s not uncommon for HR to take ownership of the assessment tool and entire process in order to ensure that appropriate standards are put in place. This includes providing regular communications to the relevant stakeholders and offering proper training on how to use the assessment and interpret its results. This type of approach will afford folks the opportunity to learn about what they need to do in order to get the most out of the solution, and help to establish credibility and adoption of the initiative throughout the organization.

Assessments are typically in danger of failing when they are seen simply as HR tools, with managers and stakeholders not included in the process. If no one outside of HR has an understanding of what the assessment is or what it’s supposed to do, it will invite doubt around both its purpose and its quality. It’s not enough for HR to provide management with big reports with lots of words and pretty graphs that, instead of helping them make decisions, often tend to add additional layers of complexity and create confusion. If stakeholders are not involved in the process, they’ll be less likely to buy in, and this is where assessment initiatives are doomed to fail. Even the best tools will lose their value under these circumstances and simply become an undervalued piece of an unfinished puzzle.

With the right assessment, and by creating a process and a partnership with the relevant stakeholders, HR will not only be able to manage an effective assessment initiative, they’ll also enable management to be just as equally versed in the results and, most importantly, apply those results to solve all of their very real business problems.

Greg is the SVP of science at PI.

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