Let’s say there is a leader who reports to you, who you have doubts about. In fact, your instincts are telling you that his or her performance is bad enough that perhaps they need to be helped to “find new opportunities elsewhere.” But here’s the stickler: Others do not share your opinion. In fact, others believe the potential of this leader is positive. They may even think the issue is YOU. You haven’t provided enough direct feedback, or coaching, or enough time to see improvement. So you pause …
One great option is to hire a coach to offer personality/leadership assessments and a 360 assessment to check them out. These assessments can provide an objective look at the personality and leadership strengths and weaknesses. With a skilled interpretation, they can provide a “peek under the hood” about what makes this leader tick. How do they get along with others? How do they reach their goals? How do they see themselves and how does that compare with how others see them?
Here are five ways to assure this assessment process actually works for you and the leader:
- Before deciding to offer assessments, ask yourself what this person could do to convince you they can/have changed. Think hard and dig deep. Sometimes the most honest answer is “nothing.” If your trust in this person is broken, regardless of the reason, it’s best to let them go. Don’t bother with the assessments. Don’t hope the assessments will confirm your instincts and provide the “proof” they are wrong for the job. Put your big girl/big boy pants on and own the decision to fire them, assuming it is legally and morally defensible. The alternative is months of regret and frustration on your part and theirs.
So, assuming you want to go ahead …
- Be clear about the reason WHY you want an assessment process. Don’t expect the assessments to give a “yay” or “nay” about whether to keep someone or not; you still need to do that. What assessment results provide are descriptors of personality/reputation and predictions about future behavior. And they are a snapshot in time. While personality does not change much, assessment results DO and CAN change over time for lots of reasons. Share the reasons for the assessments with the leader in question. Be totally honest about what you will and will not do with results.
- Be clear about who “owns” the assessment results and who gets to see results and when. Typically, the leader who is being assessed should see the results of the assessments and have a skilled interpretation by a professional coach. That same coach also summarizes these results for you and provides a report detailing what was revealed, analyzing strengths/weaknesses and areas for development.
- At the end of the process, have a three-way, facilitated meeting to debrief results between you, your leader, and the coach. After the individual and you have each had your individual debriefs about assessment results, the best way to assure alignment and avoid disagreement about what was discovered is to have everyone discuss them together. Regardless of what you decide, this meeting can be helpful to everyone involved. If you decide to keep the leader, it also provides the foundation for a new, clearer set of expectations for the future.
- Assure that your coach has the ability to walk the appropriate line about whom they work for and what the outcomes are. The coach works for you but also serves the leader. Great coaches can make this assessment process be collaborative and informative. Risk exists for the leader—they may receive information they do not wish to hear. And risk exists for you—you still have to make the decision, one that others may or may not like.
The Bailey Group has provided development assessments for thousands of leaders over the years. Ask us how we can make them work for you.