As a Talent Development leader, your biggest contribution is by equipping the organisation with the Right Person for the Right Role at the Right Time. The right time could be either when a known career movement is happening in a senior role or when new roles are created due to organisation restructuring because the business needs it.
For the right person, there are a few potential candidates who are senior as well as qualified to take up that role. But the competencies required for the new role are a bit different from what was required so far. How will you identify the best candidate for this role?
The right person for the right role becomes a challenging exercise because individuals have their own strengths and roles have certain competency needs. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have the best pieces. Now it is a matter of fitting them in the right place on the puzzle.
Here is where assessment and development centres can help.
A bit more on Assessment Centres (AC) and Development Centres (DC)
Assessment Centre and Development Centre are structured programs to identify the skills and competencies of individuals. They use almost same set of exercises and evaluate the individuals in the same way. The only difference between them is the purpose, that is selection or development.
To be specific, an Assessment centre is used for selection or recruitment. It assesses if a candidate is currently ready to advance to a new role, based on the competencies required for that role. It uses a series of exercises to evaluate the competencies required for that particular role.
The assessment centre participants can be the potential candidates (within or outside the organisation) who are showing good potential to advance to a specific role. These could have been identified as part of your internal Talent Review process, if you have one. In short, if they are internal candidates, these are the individuals who are best suited to be promoted.
Let’s say, you want to identify your next level of leadership in your sales team. An assessment centre here can help you pick the best candidates who are ready to be promoted as ASMs from a set of sales officers.
A development centre, on the other hand, assesses a set of individuals with the intention to identify the skill gaps, also based on the competency framework. It gives you a competency score for every participant and a detailed report that acts as a basis for his/her learning journey (development journey).
Thus, a development centre essentially helps the employees to perform in their current roles better. Further, it can also help to prepare the participants to advance for the next role over a period of time.
Say your organisation is planning to switch from a dealership model to a distribution model, a year later. This will mean that your sales team needs an entirely new set of competencies or new definitions of competencies for the roles handling distribution.
A development centre is best suited here to identify the required competencies needed for each and every sales manager. Identifying the skill gaps and working on them together, makes sure that the growth is uniform throughout the organisation.
As you can see, just like in an assessment centre, a development centre also assesses the competencies of an individual, but with an intent to develop them. It is possible that a candidate from a development centre may transition into an assessment centre the following year. i.e. the person works on the development so well that he/she becomes ready to be considered for an assessment centre.
Assessment Centre and Development Centre – How do they evaluate the candidates?
The competency framework of your organisation acts as the basis of both assessment centre (AC) and development centre (DC). It shows the preferred scale of competencies and behaviours suited for the role.
In AC and DC, the participants are exposed to a series of assessments like psychometric tests, simulation, behavioural event interviews (BEI), role plays, case studies etc. They reveal the personality traits and behavioural tendencies of each individual. Multiple assessors keep evaluating the performance of individuals against these during each of these exercises.
Please note that multiple individual and group exercises are used here to assess candidates on the same competency so that they get adequate opportunities to consistently display their competencies. Similarly, multiple assessors are used to observing the same candidates to remove any evaluative bias.
These evaluations give clear indications of the current readiness of the candidate to advance to the next role.
The output of an assessment centre evaluation is a small set of selected candidates among the participants who are ready with the required competencies. Most ACs also share a candidate-level report along with an interview guide, which is used to conduct selection interviews.
The AC provides one data point to assess the candidate. Internal performance data and feedback from stakeholders are also important data to be considered to make the decision more holistic and well-considered.
The output of a development centre evaluation is a detailed skill and competency report of each participant along with the ideal learning journey (Individual Development Plan or IDP) to fill his/her skill gaps.
Clearly, the assessment centre and development centre use more or less the same set of techniques to assess employees in your organisation. And it can be often confusing to understand their differences. Let us try to dissect them to see how they differ.
Assessment Centre vs Development Centre – How do they differ?
Here is how they differ in the way they operate –
|Assessment Centre||Development Centre|
|Definition||A method of evaluating internal or external candidates for job positions.||A program designed to help individuals to identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop themselves|
|What is it used for||To identify the strengths and weaknesses of candidates and determine their current suitability for a particular job or role.||To provide ongoing training and development for current employees.|
|What does it involve?||A series of activities and exercises designed to assess a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and abilities.||A series of activities and exercises designed to assess a candidate’s skill gaps to help him/her learn and grow.|
|Output||The results of an assessment centre help to make decisions about hiring, promotion, or other personnel matters||The results of a development centre help to identify areas for improvement or to evaluate the effectiveness of the training and development activities|
|When to use||1. When the job has high stakes
2. When the role requires a wide range of skills and abilities
3. To assess the potential of its employees for leadership or management roles
|1. To identify the strengths and development needs of its employees
2. To provide a structured and personalised plan for learning and development
3. To identify and develop high-potential employees
Points to note on conducting Assessment Centre and Development Centre
The Assessment Centre gives suggestions and recommendations for selection or rejection. This has to be supported with performance data and other stakeholder feedback to make it a holistic process.
Therefore, it is highly advisable to go for Assessment and Development Centre providers with an experienced background.
Here is a case study of a development centre for an insurance company conducted by The Catalyst.
The Catalyst as your partner in Setting up Assessment and Development Centre for your Talent Assessments
The Catalyst is 15+ years old L&D company focused on bringing out the best of an individual through the right set of assessments and development programs. Our team consists of experienced assessors and psychologists who are able to identify the right person for the right role at the right time.