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Assessment centre exercises to help you find your next generation of leaders

A few years back, during one of my client visits, I met John, the CEO of a multinational pharmaceutical company, who had shared an excellent example of internal succession planning gone wrong. He witnessed a loss of intellectual capital in his company as a result of a lack of focus on the succession pipeline.

Succession planning in itself is a complicated process that even the largest of organisations have a hard time articulating. During his intensive research to gauge the best practices, he came across an article on assessment centres and learned that they were somehow linked to succession planning. One of the major highlights of the assessment centre is that it helps in identifying and preparing the high-potential performers for the future, ensuring the seamless movement of talent within the organisation.

According to research, only 30% of companies use succession planning, and only 20% of that group feel they do succession planning well. Just like John, there are professionals who are still unsure of the exercises under the domain of the assessment centre that would be most beneficial to achieve their desired goals. So, when leaders like John think about succession planning, they should ask these three questions:

  • Does the personality profile of an employee align with the specific role?
  • Does your process have objectivity and validity or is based on biases?
  • Are you able to evaluate a person’s trainability and provide a reliable prediction for the future?

To ace, the basics of the assessment centre, check out our pictorial representation for your perusal!

The assessment centre being customisable is a great tool for organisations to get a 360° objectivity. Here are my top 5 go-to exercises that the frontrunners can turn to when facing difficulties in planning an assessment centre for leadership pipeline:

1. Group Discussion

In this exercise, the candidates are fundamentally being assessed on their leadership and teamwork abilities. The primary aspect is to see if they can lead and drive team, work well in a team and what sort of position they take within the group. For example, whether they lead the group or whether they prefer to work taking instruction or letting another adopt a more leading role.

It helps in identifying candidates’ leadership styles and their ability to negotiate or influence. Candidates who initiate to take charge, are receptive to their team, show clarity and decisiveness in making a decision are capable and competent to be a leader.

2. Role Play

As the name suggests, this exercise enables candidates to engage with professional role player to simulate various scenarios. The scenarios are chosen in accordance with assessing various competencies such as interpersonal effectiveness, customer management, team management, and so on.

Candidates are deliberately placed in challenging and awkward positions as it helps in assessing their readiness and assertiveness in real life. Agility and spontaneity are essential traits while planning for succession. Candidates who excel in this exercise embrace spontaneous thoughts and are able to encourage their team to bring innovation to every process.

3. Psychometric Tests

Psychometric tests are assessment tools that objectively measure the potential ability of a candidate. A study revealed that only 28% of senior-level management understand the implications of psychometric testing in the area of succession planning. It implicates a huge scope for using psychometric tools when implemented correctly. They measure a range of specific aspects such as cognitive, personality, comprehension, arithmetic, and work behaviour intended to streamline and reveal the top applicants efficiently.

They are very popular at all levels of management while planning for succession as they help in narrowing down and filtering out large applicant pools. It also helps in determining a candidate’s job suitability and competencies for promotion. A mixed bag of psychometric tests would provide a 360-degree overview of the candidate’s readiness to be a leader.

Did you know?

Naman’s 16pf® psychometric test delivers objective and empirical measurements of personality traits that are known to accurately predict behaviour that enables you to hire, promote and develop people within your organisation.

4. Inbox Simulation

In this exercise, candidates will be presented with a stack of documents such as emails and other communication and will be required to assimilate the information and decide on a course of action. It helps in assessing competencies like time management, prioritising tasks, analytic thinking and so on that are essential while planning for succession. Smoothly executing tasks without creating a panicky situation for the team is essential to maintaining high productivity levels.

It is of utmost importance to manage the workload effectively else it can lead to lower productivity or burnout. For example, you’ve just returned from a holiday to a full inbox and are required to meet a few urgent deadlines. This exercise helps the assessor judge candidate’s sense of interpretation of deciding the relative importance of the tasks by the prioritisation list one presents.

Succeeding in this furiously fast-paced environment requires a top-notch approach to remain relevant in this competitive business landscape. Businesses have to be well prepared for the dynamic workplace changes, identify vulnerabilities and envisage a way forward to build a strong talent pipeline for the future. This is where succession planning comes into the picture. Placing it as a core mission in your corporate playbooks will provide a tremendous leverageable opportunity to stay ahead of the shortcoming of the future. It cannot be undertaken without a capable leader or the right assessment tools. However, building such high performing teams is a challenge as only 14% of companies have a formal succession plan aligned with the needs of the organisation.

The wide range of 4 powerful succession planning tools mentioned above offers organisations a set of next-generation capabilities that are already paving the way for successful leadership development and talent management for years to come.

Are you looking for identifying high-potential individuals and skill gap assessment in your organisation?

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