Desi Industrial Psychologists

Performance Woes and Culture Fit Challenges? Assessments can help.

Recruitment can be an extremely costly exercise. Making the wrong choice can be highly catastrophic for an organisation. Reliance on essential capabilities of lean teams and few specialists can be challenging, especially during these tough times in 2020. Effectively it means low tolerance for performance errors and careless wastage in the system. In the SMME world the predicament is even greater. An employer does not possess the luxury of getting the wrong calibre of person for a particular need. The first thought should be delivery impact to the customer if nothing else comes to mind. Time spent on elaborate performance coaching and progressive consequence management cannot be recovered. Making the right selection decisions should be a business imperative. Saving on costs of psychometric assessment is like replacing pounds for pennies in the medium to long-term.  

It is quite strange that the thought of psychometric assessments hardly comes up with many big business players, let alone SMMEs. In moments of selection for appointment and development, usually, all hopes are placed on the interview. Yet this is certainly not the only tool, nor is it the best in the catalogue of assessing probable job success. For one, the interview is a highly subjective approach. Overreliance on advantages of the interview appears to cast a shadow on its many pitfalls. Even the most effectively conducted interview cannot uncover pertinent information about who the candidate really is and what he or she can/cannot do. For example, prevalent in the candidate might be known personality traits and unknown blind-spots that could indicate misalignment between the candidate’s character and inherent needs of the job. Similarly, there may be cognitive deficits in the candidate that may only be discovered on the job post appointment. At that point is far too late  for three important reasons:  1) Management of poor performance takes valuable time away from your business; 2) Proving poor performance can be difficult, although doable and 3) Firing an employee for whatever reason is generally expensive. 

It is open secret that everyone prepares to put their best foot forward during interviews. In doing this, we may be hesitant to show our ‘other side’… 😊. Similarly, we are reluctant to come clean about our inherent capability shortcomings. Therefore, information about certain syndromes might be withheld deliberately. Yet these could well become essential indicators to predict success or failure in a particular job. Often, ‘gut-feel’ tends to influence recruitment decisions strongly. Thereafter, one hopes that one’s view of how a candidate is likely to show up on the job is correct. But what if it is incorrect? Employers seldom take time to consider consequences of wrong selection decisions and the greater impact of this on business.

What do you do when it dawns on you that your choice of employee is either painfully ill-equipped, destructive or highly toxic for your business? On a lesser scale, what do you do with an employee who is somewhat ‘lukewarm’, or just not switched in the manner and extent you were hoping for? Answers to these questions lie in scientific tools of psychometric assessment. The same is true for decisions on choice of candidate for talent development, lateral transfers, promotion and succession management. Assessments are also highly recommended for career planning and considerations of mid-career switch.

The most telling indicators of incorrect selection are often observed in quality of relationships (with line manager, peers etc.) and performance outcomes. At worst these could culminate to disciplinary proceedings, where wrongdoing is identified in behaviour of the employee. The cost of making incorrect selection decisions may mean that the firm’s very survival is on the line. In making appointment decisions it is advisable for employers to seriously consider use of scientific tools of assessment in addition to interviews. The aim is to enhance knowledge about candidate applicants. When the wrong person is appointed into a position, soon enough their true colours begin to emerge. Critical gaps may be discovered in the incumbent’s capabilities to perform successfully on the job. Alternatively, the individual may be experienced otherwise by others. This obstacle may negatively affect delivery outcomes of the individual, the team and the entire firm. Recent incidents with different clients prompted my reflections in this regard.

We must note well though, that psychometric assessments do not provide all the answers. Rather, the results offer a small window through which to view the person, in relation to inherent job requirements. For most employers this could be an invaluable opportunity to gather relevant information about the candidate before making an appointment decision. For an SMME employer, this proactive investment may be essential to the sustainability of your business. 

Babalwa Desi
Consulting Industrial Psychologist

Scroll to Top