Skills Assessments — The Secret Tool for Behavior Change

Skills Assessments - The Secret Tool for Behavior ChangeGood development programs are based on the skills participants need to do their job successfully. They are tailored to address diagnosed performance gaps. The programs aren’t point–in–time training sessions, but longer–term projects designed to change how people are executing in their roles. Using a diagnostic assessment approach saves you time and money by determining exactly what performance gaps exist and establishing baseline metrics. But assessments can do so much more for you.

Assessments are your secret tool for creating behavior change without resistance.

Often companies are more focused on the training topics they believe will make a difference in the business, than on determining if the new techniques are being implemented. New behaviors require people to feel both able and comfortable adopting them. Training provides the ability, but it won’t necessarily change long–term actions.

Skills assessments help you to identify where you’re meeting resistance so you can adjust your strategy.

We’ve learned that over a 6–month development program, we’ll see a 30% improvement in ability and comfort level at the 3–month mid–point, and a 90–115% improvement at the end of the program. Sustained adoption of the techniques remains 7 months later, all due the use of assessments as a tool.

You can realize similar results too, by leveraging assessments throughout your development projects using these tips:

  • Determine the content to include in your program. Today’s training doesn’t require you to teach people how to execute a process from start to finish. The most effective programs identify participants’ weaknesses and focus on those. Let the baseline skills assessment identify the depth of the content to include. Skip the beginner–level information they already know. Focus on content that’ll provide the ability and overcome concerns in implementing the new techniques.
  • Identify where people are struggling during the program. We use mid–point assessments in sales programs to evaluate sellers’ progress and identify where we need to revisit or go deeper. We don’t view these assessments as a measure of our success in delivery. Rather, we use them as a tool to identify resistance points and challenges people are encountering as they apply the new skills. With this information in hand we can quickly adjust the program, revisiting topics they’re struggling with and providing more practice.
  • Distinguish areas where participants are comfortable and don’t require further development. Rather than assume the techniques that will be uncomfortable for students, use the assessments to provide concrete data. No more wasting time on topics they find “boring” or “irrelevant.” You’ll know immediately where to place attention and keep their interest.
  • Establish topics for manager coaching. Managers are a key cog in behavior change. They are the observers of their team’s implementation of new skills. Provide managers with insights into where their people are struggling, what they should be observing, and how to coach individuals through their challenges.
  • Post–training reinforcement. After the program’s conclusion, continue assessments every six months to identify topics for reinforcement and sustain behavior change.

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