In organizations we spend a lot of time analyzing and assessing others. What type are they, what style do they have and which category do they fit in to? This seemingly helps us figure out how to deal with them, train them and ultimately control them. Because really, we want them to do, what we want them to do right? Um, I don’t think so!
I believe there is some value to assessments. In fact, I complete both a 360 Leadership Assessment and a Leadership Culture Survey for organizations. But the truth is the reason to conduct this type of analysis should not be to learn how to control employees. Instead, assessments can provide a guide for individuals to look inward at who they are, their skills, strengths and passions. It can be inspiring to them to see what they can do to be strong individually and a respected and valued contributing member to the organization. Rather than a weapon or a tool leaders have to demand a certain type of performance from their staff, assessments can be a gift to workers to find their potential so they can find the real meaning in their work.
That brings me to my next point. Our goal, and I this is where I see many organizations struggle, is to have everyone be an active contributing member of the team. Many organizations ask for input. They put people onto committees and put systems in place for everyone to contribute. Regrettably, in many situations, this is just lip service. The leaders and the leadership team have their own agenda and ideas. They know which way they want things to go and despite input from the team, they go in that direction, right or right, good or bad.
Really getting employee input and contribution requires leaders to let go of the reins. It means, giving a task, challenge or opportunity to a team without a preconceived idea of how they are going to meet it. The leaders must give them the resources to experiment, be curious, fail and try again. It requires you as a leader to champion them, encourage them and take them out of their comfort zone so they can be creative, innovative and ingenious.
Assessments in your organization can show you and more importantly your employee where they will excel in the process of being active team members. It will provide guidance to explore how they show up at work, their communication styles and the impact of their responses to others so they can effectively work with others to achieve the results they and the organization are looking for.
The next time you evaluate someone who reports to you, slow the process down. See what the individual who is being assessed can glean from the process before you offer your input. Here are some potential questions to start the process:
Notice there are no “Why?” questions. Why tends to put people on the defensive. They feel the need to protect who they are, their style, skills and way of working. This can lead to the employee pulling in and putting walls up. As a leader, relax and let them talk, notice and be curious.
Assessments can be powerful tools when used to promote employee growth and development rather than to control employees and demand they change. Look carefully at how you and your organization use assessment with individuals. Are they something people run from or are they an opportunity for real growth and development for the indivdual?
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