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17 May 2013 The Changing Face of Outplacement by Diana Westlake
3 May 2013
6 February 2013 Commercial Skills Required by John Dodd
11 February 2013 Tough Conversations - practice makes perfect by Stuart O'Reilly
22 January 2013
12 November 2012 Women on Boards Event by Laura Oliver
2 November 2012 Talons Management by John Milsom
10 October 2012
31 August 2012 Allow SID to be Vicious by Keith McCambridge
1 June 2012 The Best Candidates Choose You by Keith Miller
30 May 2012
12 July 2012 Would your team win gold? by Laura Oliver
2 August 2012 Leadership teams – what goes on at 35,000 feet by Keith McCambridge
5 April 2012
14 May 2012 Don't Cut Corners on Job Analysis by Jerome Bull
18 April 2012 CSR - Who Are We Kidding? by Laurence Jackson
30 March 2012
23 February 2012 Stargazing by Melissa Davis
31 January 2012 Some Honest Answers by Colin Mercer
19 January 2012
16 January 2012 Embedding Talent Management by Laura Oliver
7 February 2012 Driving Behavioural Change by Liz Lawson
5 January 2012
18 November 2011 Women on the Board by John Dodd
9 November 2011 Collaborative Leadership by John Milsom
8 November 2011
10 October 2011 Does coaching make you too risky? by John Milsom
7 October 2011 Transparency with Candidates by John Milsom
5 October 2011
13 September 2011 Blinkers off - recruiting from other sectors by Jerome Bull
13 September 2011 Diversity - Make it work for your Board by John Dodd
23 August 2011
19 August 2011 The Future of Leadership by John Milsom
19 July 2011 The Fall of Rebekah Brooks by Melissa Davis
15 July 2011
11 July 2011 Brainpower Vital - Supply Chain Professionals by Keith Miller
17 June 2011 Becoming an NED - Look Before You Leap by Mike Spurr
15 June 2011
1 June 2011 New Media in Recruitment by Ian Richardson
27 May 2011 Adopting Commercial Values by Laurence Jackson
17 May 2011
15 February 2011 Psychological Assessment by Stuart O'Reilly
10 February 2011 Survival Leadership by John Milsom
7 February 2011
19 January 2011 Come Home, All is Forgiven by Keith Miller
12 January 2011 Standing Out From The Crowd by Jerome Bull
10 November 2010
28 October 2010 Hard, Soft or About Right? by Stuart O'Reilly
18 October 2010 Are You a Velvety Merlot or a Complex Cabernet? by John Milsom
11 October 2010
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Hard, Soft or About Right?
Making judgements about people has been at the heart of management thinking for over 100 years. A landmark 1903 paper by Frederick Taylor focused upon how to identify "first class men" on the grounds that "a first class man can do between 2-4 times as much work as can be done by an average man".
Since then a series of tools and techniques have been devised to help managers make judgements about their staff, and thereby improve individual and organisational performance. Some have sought to utilise new technology to improve these people systems and processes, with the result that sophisticated IT systems are now available to analyse data in order to drive promotion decisions, development initiatives and to inform leadership succession.
Too often however, users of talent or succession management systems forget that the most fundamental building block is the quality of judgement about the person – that is, the soundness of the assessments that are fed into the system.
The quality of an assessment can be measured in two ways: is it accurate and is it consistent? Most attempts at improving people decisions, such as introducing better psychometric tests and performance management training, tend to emphasise accuracy. However, consistency of measurement is equally important. If you can make the judgements about people in your organisation more consistent you will increase the likelihood of making them more accurate. This is because consistency (reliability) of measurement sets a ceiling on accuracy (validity) of measurement.
The table on the right gives an illustration. It is possible that Daniel has seen a group of poorer leaders, Ravi has seen a large group of better leaders, and Eileen has seen a small group whose leadership skills are relatively well distributed. However, the balance of probability is that Daniel is too severe in his judgements, Ravi is too lenient, whereas Eileen is getting it about right.If this data was used to drive an organisation’s talent management system we would probably be overestimating the capability of some leaders and underestimating the capability of others. This will result in some poor senior appointments, and may lead to scarce development resources being invested in the wrong people.
In this situation (which is not atypical) the organisation would be wise to direct effort to ensure the three assessors' judgements are more consistent with each other. Too often we see money wasted on the easier option - purchasing a software system to collate the data.
It is worth noting that although the above judgements may not be consistent with each other, all three may well be accurate in the relative rankings they have given to their people.
What simple things can an organisation do to tighten up their judgements?
- Look at the data you have on your people and assess whether there is a problem or not. Typically, a large proportion of the data will be too lenient, i.e. it will overestimate capability in some way.
- Help managers understand in more detail what good looks like. For example, behaviourally anchored rating scale (BARS) can help them make more consistent and appropriate judgements. Do this by building on the manager’s own experiences - good facilitators can do this in short workshops of around two hours.
- Ensure managers spend time discussing their people with each other, to encourage calibration.
- Give managers a common language to make judgements about the individuals in the organisation. This probably means a competency set that is consistently used, well understood and related to the day-to-day work of the organisation.
- Take a lesson from manufacturing - use real data to continuously improve the consistency of the judgements year on year.
In summary, if you want to make a significant improvement in the accuracy of your people decisions, start by trying to make them more consistent.