As a behavior analyst, I have always used assessments to guide my decision making. Prior to making any recommendations to a client, or feedback to staff working in the field, it is necessary to have data to support recommendations or feedback. This is where assessments become important and valuable tools.
Assessments can come in two forms: objective and subjective. Behavior Analysts typically favor objective assessments, but in my experience, subjective assessments can also have a purpose when a leader wants staff members to provide a self-report on their behavior, or when a leader may also want to do some self-assessment on their own behavior. Here are the assessments that I typically use in my practice:
1. Performance Checklists
This is the primary objective assessment I use, in which measurement is based off of direct observation of staff, performing their assigned tasks during a specific time period. The manager in this situation, would write out (using behavior-specific definitions) the responses required in each task outlined in a person's job description. Once defined, the manager can than observe the person performing the tasks, and then derive a score based off of performance. Ideally, the manager will then use those data to create a performance development plan for the individual they are supervising (Note: it is always best to provide feedback following the observation, as soon as possible, and allow the person to remediate the skill that was not performed with criteria outlined.)
2. Leadership Practices Inventory
This assessment was created by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. It divides leadership skills into constructs of leadership practices which are: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. Based on self-report, answers are ranked with a ratings scale and the inventory provides a rating score for each heading. Kouzes and Posner have developed a workbook and a book that is based on these principles to help leaders develop skills, and can also be used to develop managers in your organization. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen In Organizations by Kouzes and Posner* is a great resource for leaders to develop managers in their organization, as well as to develop their own leadership skills.
3. StrengthsFinder 2.0
This is an assessment created by Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath in collaboration with Gallup. The purpose of this assessment is to "help people discover and develop their natural talents." This is a great tool for leaders to use to assess staff strengths, and then create job descriptions and performance development plans based off of those strengths. This assessment can be found at: http://strengths.gallup.com. Ideally, this is an assessment you would complete during the orientation period of a staff member, however, it can also be utilized during staff promotions or when there are changes in the organization that would effect an employee's position in the organization.
Whatever tool or assessment you use, keep in mind that leaders should always use data to drive decisions when guiding their organizations! Subjective assessments in conjunction with objective measurement of performance, are useful tools in shaping the development of staff and leaders.
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