5 Steps to Make Better Hires and Boost Performance: Part One

Use assessment data to align talent to business strategy and avoid the unintended consequences of making decisions in a vacuum.

Is there such a thing as the perfect job candidate? Every role has its particular requirements, but most organizations want bright individuals who can adapt to a number of roles. The pressure to find top talent is causing the recruitment process to take longer and cost more. But there’s scant evidence the resulting hires are of any better quality.

What can HR do? A good place to start is looking at a company’s data and metrics from talent programs across the board. Are all recruitment and HR efforts complimentary and working together? If businesses are honest, many of them aren’t always pulling in the same direction.

  • We don’t have consistent processes for assessment, selection and development across the firm, which can lead to poor decisions.

    Vice-president of talent management from a financial services firm

Through its work with leading organizations over four decades, SHL has identified five clear steps to using talent assessments to ensure the right people are in the right roles:

  1. Create a foundation of support and expertise.
  2. Identify and measure what underpins business success.
  3. Provide answers, not test results.
  4. Capitalize on advanced analytics and big data.
  5. Align assessment innovations with technological advances.


Step 1 — Create a foundation of support and expertise.

Successful talent strategies must be founded on real business goals, which makes talking to all the areas within an organization essential. It goes well beyond HR, so liaise with other business disciplines to identify the metrics that really measure an employee’s performance.

Measurement matters – both making comparisons over time and setting definable targets. For example, aiming to reduce employee attrition by a set percentage in a particular role, division or market is more likely to produce a return on investment than a general aspiration to improve retention. Similarly, organizations should define the outcomes they want to deliver from assessment programs and reverse-engineer the process to capture, aggregate and measure relevant talent data.

Step 2 — Identify and measure what underpins business success.

Consider a specific role, then ask three key questions:

  • What does good performance look like? A business should be able to define the attributes or DNA of high performance, communicating with employees the qualities it considers to be markers of success. Whether your company defines high performance using a competency framework, a leadership model or a job description, the assessment must be up-to-date, understandable and aligned to the organization’s overall strategy.
  • How are HIPOs measured? Any process should measure a candidate’s skills, personality, actions and aspirations, particularly for high-level roles. You will need to look at a person’s potential holistically, measuring their cognitive ability, their knowledge, skills and judgment, plus on-the-job behavior and motivation to progress to higher levels.
  • Does the assessment process still work? As job roles evolve and companies grow, talent strategies should be monitored and updated constantly.

Step 3 — Provide answers, not test results.

Traditional talent assessments require HR to interpret test scores and personality profiles. This approach has evolved, allowing hirers to customize assessments to specific jobs, with precise results, faster turnaround and employees who are a better match. Leveraging data in this way can provide a picture over time of the genuine performance of new hires and existing staff. This highlights areas of development, as well as aiding future hiring and succession planning.

Step 4 — Capitalize on advanced analytics and big data.

HR professionals around the world are agree that talent analytics is valuable, yet a just a third of respondents to our survey ranked it as a top priority in 2018. We know that analytics is only as good as the data fed into it and less than 77% of companies feed in data from objective assessment. These results indicate a surprising lack of clarity on the current role and/or potential of big data and analytics in talent management.

Analytics should be built into talent assessment from the outset. This means storing assessment results and standardizing metrics, which allows for company-wide analysis. Data must be collected from a range of sources, including performance management and HRIS systems, as well as external labor market information.

Step 5 — Align assessment innovations with technological advances.

Filling jobs is taking longer and costing more money, so it’s no surprise companies are eager to speed up hiring. But no one wants to compromise on quality and rigor. HR technology can help by integrating assessment processes into the talent management system to automate routine tasks. Estimates suggest this can cut the time it takes to make a hire by up to 50%.


Author: SHL UK