Organizations are always looking to find innovative tools that allow them to better connect with their teams. There’s nothing worse than flying blind, having conversations with employees that are based on gut feelings or gossip.
To combat that problem, some leaders are gaining clarity by using an old standby, personality assessments, in fresh ways.
Assessments themselves may be familiar but the application — how, when, and where they are used — has changed dramatically in recent years as a direct reaction to the changing demands.
Assessments can serve a variety of purposes. They help create connections by instilling a common language and connection points between leaders and teams. They can offer to leadership important insights to aid in the development of star players. And they’re a useful way to inspire change or resolve conflict in organizations that need a positive boost.
One of our favorite culture and team assessment tools is our Fired Up Culture Index, which helps us identify trouble spots, create action plans, and give leaders the tools they need to spark change. In our Culture Index, and an assessment tool we encounter, it’s critical we understand exactly how they’re being used so we can tailor them to be as effective as possible.
How to Use Assessments Effectively
Above all, assessments should be rooted in a clear understanding of why they’re being conducted.
- Are they meant to be qualitative or quantitative?
- Are they going to help us align better with our values, our norms, our ideal sense of culture?
- Do they provide us with a roadmap of critical issues and the priority actions we need to take to move us closer to our ideal future?
Start with a clear end goal in mind and communicate that as you move forward. Along the way, pay attention to these three things.
Be careful of narrow data
At their core, assessments are data. The data tells us a story. But be careful of data that minimizes or excludes the voices and roles of some team members. Here are a few rules to guide you along the way.
Ensure assessments take all contributions into the account.
Whatever assessment process you decide to undertake, strive for getting the big picture of things and seeing how different teams throughout the organization are experiencing the work
- Create reports that don’t just focus on the bottom line. There’s more to an organization than just its financials. Don’t let your assessments fall pretty to only counting pennies. We believe your people measurements can and should be on par with the financials.
- Strive for a comprehensive analysis. Use assessments to help illustrate the who, what, why, and when of your organization’s current position and the gaps that exist between the current reality and the ideal future.
- Celebrate positive realizations. Ensure leaders take an active role in showcasing how someone’s contributions affected a meaningful data point. If an assessment uncovers some unrecognized achievement, make it visible to the organization. One of the greatest gifts a leader can receive from an assessment process is hearing the collective voices of team members.
With these safeguards in place, you’ll create assessment results that offer a broad look at your organization’s current state, rather than a narrow glimpse.
Use assessments to improve systems
One of the cornerstones of great work culture is the implementation of systems that serve. When critical systems don’t serve the teams that use them, nothing can thrive. The results are decreases in engagement, creativity, productivity, and retention, as people get worn down by working in an environment that hinders, rather than fosters, their contributions.
Use culture assessments to improve systems that are underperforming and hurting the teams that use them. As a part of that assessment, collaborate with teams to ensure you’re asking the right questions so you can rely on the data to provide you with answers that ultimately lead to the best outcomes.
Make assessments actually work
Imagine the lowly suggestion box, put up in an office so that teams could anonymously drop off ideas or provide feedback for leadership. Now think of what people would do if they watched as months went by without anyone taking time to even open the box and read what was inside.
Don’t take the time to conduct assessments only to have the results sit in a pile on the floor. Make it clear what people said, what you heard, and what you’re going to do about it to improve. And don’t stop there.
Commit to circling back and commenting on improvements along the way. Take accountability, clearly communicate, and reflect the needs of your teams. This ensures you not only make the most of your assessment but that you serve as an example for others in your organization.
Want more tips on changing your organization from the inside out? Download our free resource: The Innovative Leader’s Guide to Transforming Company Culture…Starting with Yourself
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.