Identifying Exceptional Talent and Guiding Development
Assessment centers are considered by many to be the top-shelf solution for assessing, selecting, and developing organizational talent. However, while acknowledging the benefits of the methodology, organizations have begun to push back on the time commitments, cost, and resources required to implement and administer assessment centers. In addition, it is difficult to maintain the reliability of the application when implementing traditional centers across multiple locations.
In the telecommunications industry—where assessment centers have their deepest roots—there was a call to respect the foundation and legacy of traditional assessment centers while pushing forward towards the future of leadership development.Facing this challenge, Verizon partnered with Fenestra Inc, a premier provider of virtual assessment centers recently acquired by BTS. An assessment center using state of the art technology was designed to engage Verizon’s managers and achieve the following objectives:
Implementing the virtual assessment, Verizon was able to successfully identify outstanding talent and provide guided development for second-level managers. Web technology was used to create scalable, cost-effective, engaging, and highly realistic ‘day-in-the-life’ job tryouts that were locally delivered, while assessors and clients participated and fulfilled their roles from multiple locations in the U.S. as well as in India.
A leadership assessment program for second level managers, the bench for Director- level titles, was administered to 200 high potential managers across the United States and India. The program was comprised of multiple steps including prework, assessment, and coach feedback with developmental guidance.
Prework. Nominees received a computer generated invitation and completed pre-work online during the two weeks leading up to the assessment program. Each nominee was asked to complete an on-line career accomplishment record (CAR) which included self ratings on each of the assessment competencies critical for success in the targeted role as well as reflections on their career aspirations and goals. The CAR was later used to facilitate coaching and developmental planning discussions. Participants also had an opportunity to review background information about the director role, the simulated region, personnel, and other important information prior to the assessment.
The Business Simulation. Participants engaged in a four-hour simulation of the director position. Stimuli material and exercises were developed based on interviews and evaluated to ensure representation of the targeted Director position. During the job simulation, participants engaged in an interactive, in-box environment, reviewing provided information, responding to email, and providing business recommendations. Participants also had scheduled and unexpected meetings with simulated peers, direct reports, administrative support, and supervisors.
Evaluation. Assessors evaluated and provided competency ratings for each exercise. The competencies evaluated were identified through a thorough job analyses and subject matter expert input regarding exercise-competency linkages.
Debrief and integration. At the end of the simulation, the participant met with an assessor-coach to discuss the rationale for and perceived outcomes of their decisions. Later in the day, three assessors reviewed the day’s activities and evaluations and provided individual ratings for each critical competency. An integration discussion among the assessors was facilitated by a lead assessor to reach consensus on competency ratings and overall readiness. This process was also supported using web-based flipcharts and conference calling.
Coaching and feedback. Participants were sent flash reports summarizing the consensus ratings. The flash reports were followed by feedback and coaching discussions with assessor and coaches. After the feedback coaching sessions, detailed written feedback reports with specific behavioral examples summarized the evidence for the ratings as well as specific developmental activity recommendations.
Web technology was used to create scalable, cost-effective, engaging, and highly realistic ‘day-in-the-life’ job tryouts that were locally delivered”
For Verizon, the outcomes resulted in:
Survey information from both participants and supervisors was collected in an effort to track and evaluate the impact of the program. Some highlights from the data include:
The success of the virtual assessment center program led to additional assessments the following year as well as the potential launch of a new program for VP-level assessment.
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