Wednesday February 8, 2017
In September 2016 we launched Vana Executive Assessment. With expectations of candidates greater than ever, increasing the need for an assessment and selection process that hires ‘right-first-time’, Executive Assessment can bring valuable insights to clients in talent acquisition - both internal and external - and development activities.
Vana Executive Assessment is managed by Dr Martin Spencer (pictured above) - a leading Chartered Occupational Psychologist - so we caught up with him to ask about how it all works.
How long have you been working in this field?
Almost 30 years now. I first came across assessment as a Psychology undergraduate, and became so interested in individual differences that I went on to do a PhD in the subject. I became a Chartered Psychologist and started working in management development and consulting in the late 80s, running the UK's first independent training course on psychometrics. I've since worked in development, HR and talent management (Zurich, Openwork, GoCompare), including a stint as an HR Director, but have always been drawn back to assessment and development. I recently gained a Diploma in Executive Development to support my coaching work.
How does Executive Assessment work in practice, and can you tell us about a client you’re currently supporting on this?
One of the best examples where I see Executive Assessment being applied is when an organisation wants to create a new leadership team. My approach with them is as follows;
- we start by working on the success factors that differentiate good performance from outstanding leadership,
- a group of existing senior staff then go through a large scale development process, based on the tools and techniques I use.
From this we get a set of objective data about everyone, as well as a clear picture of their motives, ambitions, key strengths and skillsets. The client can then use this information to determine who’s in the new leadership team, and provide meaningful and relevant development for those who weren’t ready.
I’m currently working with a client on their leadership team. I’m involving them all in a one-day development event, preceded by some psychometric tests, where they’ll have an in-depth discussion and run business-related exercises. The output is a focused, meaningful and targeted individual development report which they then work out how to implement and support through ongoing coaching.
Prediction plays a key role when it comes to a significant hiring decision or individual development. How can Executive Assessment help?
For me it's all about risk reduction. By knowing more about people, what makes them tick, what motivates them, how they’ll lead, how they will cope with stress etc. simply helps you narrow the gap between what you know and what you don't. There’s no such thing as perfect prediction, but improving your chances of avoiding a costly mistake is a good thing to invest in.
Emotion and intelligence (EQ and IQ): is striking a balance at senior level too much to ask?
Not at all - these days it's the least you should ask. EQ is supposed to be about how we are with others and generally interact. We are living in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (or VUCA for short!). VUCA often relates to how people view the conditions under which they make decisions, plan forward, manage risks, foster change and solve problems. For me that's also a great reason to look at how someone generally thinks to make smart judgements, and also get an understanding of the nature and style of their extraversion/introversion, how agreeable/affable/friendly they are, perceptiveness, what derails them and so on.
How do you help an individual’s thinking to enable them to realise their potential?
There are expert systems and computer generated reports out there – for me, I like asking people to complete a ‘big 5’ personality questionnaire, for example NEO, and then discussing the results to find out what it means for them. I also do something that I see very rarely these days, and that's talking to people about their values. Values form and drive just about everything we do, and also inform the kind of places and cultures where professionally we might thrive. I therefore use a structured process to help people understand themselves and discuss their motivations and beliefs. This really aids prediction – after all, we’re more likely to fulfil our potential if we're working somewhere with values aligned with our own.
Overall what difference can Executive Assessment make for businesses and individuals?
Organisationally, hiring people into key roles is a hugely significant call. So, assessment provides insight (for example, how far an individual’s behaviours and outlook broadly match what you are looking for to begin with), and this insight leads to a better call.
From an individual's perspective, it's knowing what you’re really good at and learning how to execute against your strengths. Understanding yourself helps determine the kind of work you want to do, the type of organisation you want to be part of, and a preferred routine. Getting that right increases the chances of being more fulfilled – something definitely worth having in my book.
If you’d like to find out more about Vana Executive Assessment, and how it could benefit you or your organisation, please contact us on 01225 487201.