Caution: Skill assessment pitfalls ahead
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Getting Personal About Business, the blog of Zahn Consulting, LLC.
Skill assessments are appropriate and a highly recommended step to take when a retailer or any other business is looking to prepare itself for managing change and preparing for a new set of challenges. However, they are best done with certain cautions considered and accounted for to prevent misinterpretations and increase the likelihood of success.
Here, a few common cautions in the process:
Not observing behavior/performance: Having people behave as they would when put into the situations that they will be required to confront is the best indicator of their skill level. If a simulation or role-play scenario cannot be constructed to actually "test" or observe actual behavior, some executives will rely on reported or self-assessment insights (asking the job incumbent or their supervisor to rate their skill). The danger in relying on this information alone is that each of us may have very different interpretations of what a performance standard would include.
Ignoring contributory factors to performance: Be aware of other contributory factors that may influence whether performance is actually demonstrated. A lack of observable performance may be a function of:
- Few (or no) opportunities to demonstrate performance due to the "newness" of the position
- Confusion or uncertainty of what good performance looks like/undefined standards/poorly identified metrics/etc.
- Competing performance incentives that are not rewarding the right behaviors, and so they are not being observed or demonstrated because they are not rewarded
- Lack of skill, knowledge, or abilities to achieve the desired results (THIS is fertile ground for training)
Assuming skills transfer: Another frequently seen phenomena is assuming that if someone is expert at one task, they will also excel at another task. Exemplary performance (or subpar performance) under a particular environment, set of expectations, access to resources, etc., cannot be assumed to be indicative of the level of performance under a new set of criteria.
What common missteps or unhelpful assumptions often frustrate the skill assessment process? What particular challenges do retail stores have around skillset evaluations?