Development Centers – Deciding between Tom, Jane or Harry

Our client in the sport industry who wishes to remain anonymous (hence thereafter named “Premier European sports association”) and Affentranger Kveton + Partners (“AK+Partners”) began their partnership in 2014 with the intention of professionalizing and structuring Premier European sports association’s recruitment and career development processes. Building on shared successes, AK+Partners was mandated for a new challenge. The challenge was to evaluate the readiness of 37 management-level candidates from three different management levels and operating units to assume more senior roles in the organization.

To bring Premier European sports association to best in class in the area of development, AK+Partners designed a bespoke Development Centre (“DC”) for the standardized evaluation of candidates which involved creating different scales of competencies for the three levels of management. According to these scales, Premier European sports association made an internal preselection which led to a nomination of 37 internal candidates who were going to participate in the one-day DC.

Every activity included in the DC was designed to allow candidates to display the requisite competencies assessors wanted to test. Multiple assessors from human resources, psychologist and business executive backgrounds were involved in the DC. Their participation in the evaluation of candidates guaranteed consistency and objectivity in every assessment.

The methodology to assess the career development readiness of candidates was anchored on two scientifically-validated psychometric tools, the PI Behavioral Assessment™ (PI®) and PI Learning Indicator™ (LI®) which measure Motivational Drives (PI® predicting behaviours) and General Cognitive Ability (LI® best predictor of learning speed and depth and adaptability), respectively. Further, candidates presented their career ambitions and their strategic views about the value they could add to their unit if they were promoted. Competency-based interviews were held to identify behavioural patterns with a set of targeted questions. Last, team games, role-plays and strategic analysis helped the assessors cover every pertinent aspect of each candidate’s potential to assume a more senior role; e.g. natural leadership behaviours, strategic thinking, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, adaptability in ambiguous situations to name just a few.

Ultimately, the DC allowed for the ranking of candidates on a readiness potential grid, with measured management and leadership core competencies (performance) and potential. The grid showed different profiles within the candidate pool: the Specialists or Technical Experts, the Professional with Potential or High Potential. The results indicated that approximately two thirds of the 37 candidates who participated in the DC were capable to assume a more senior role, albeit with different levels of readiness. One third demonstrated average performance and potential, clearly not enough for an immediate promotion. A through development plan has been designed to support them in gradually acquiring the necessary competencies.

Aside from ascertaining promotability for Premier European sports association, for the candidate, the DC was highly valuable in providing the individual feedback, including PI® and LI® results, given by the internal assessors and AK+Partners to help increase their awareness and allow them to initiate a development plan. According to one participant “I feel very fortunate to have been one of the first to have the chance to spend this day as part of the evaluation process for future managers…. You gave me lots of insights on myself and what to improve, it made me learn lot of new aspects of my personality and my professional profile.”

One to one feedback sessions were very constructive and amazingly quick due to the organization and technology set up by AK+Partners (1 to 2 days after the DC). Debriefing sessions raised awareness of both Premier European sports association management and the candidates; they allowed Premier European sports association to have transparent and objective career development methods and offered the candidates advice on the progress they could make.

Ultimately, the improvements Premier European sports association made during their longstanding partnership with AK+Partners allowed it apply for best practices in recruitment and career development processes and become a role model in career development processes for other non-profit sport associations.

For more information on how to design and implement a best in class Development Centre contact us!

Why DCs matter – A scientific explanation

Over the years mountains of research on the reliability of recruitment methods has generated different perspectives and schools of thought on the subject. Notwithstanding, there is some consensus. There is widely shared agreement that age, experience and educational path are not enough to determine whether a candidate or an employee will perform well in a given job (Hunter, 1983; Schmidt & Hunter, 1998; Smith & Smith, 2005). Relying upon a single dimension, the best job performance predictor is intelligence (Hunter, 1983; Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). Yet, research has demonstrated that there exist more reliable methods to evaluate candidates including cognitive tests, personality surveys, structured interviews and simulations – that, combined with one anothe,  increases reliability of measuring candidate’s prospective job performance considerably.

Development Centres (“DC”) are a great solution for companies and not for profit organizations alike to combine different evaluation tools and approaches. Candidates are subjected to many exercises that offer a complete view of their competency and potential. Fairness and objectivity in the process is safeguarded by the involvement of more than one skilled assessor. The result: an eight-fold prediction accuracy is gained through DCs. This is why many of our clients turn to us for design and delivery of a bespoke DC program to increase the quality of decision-making and bring their organizations to best in class.

Hunter, J.E. (1983). A casual analysis of cognitive ability, job knowledge, job performance, and supervisor, ratings. In E Landy, S. Zedeck, & J. Cleveland (eds.), Performance measurement and theory (pp. 257-266), Hilldale, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological bulletin, 124(2), 262.

Smith, M. & Smith, P. (2005). Testing people at work- Competencies in psychometric testing. Blackwell Publishing UK. All rights reserved. 

Quick guidelines to set up the DC

  • Communication: ensure people come with the right mindset, a Development Centre is to help them to grow and learn
  • Tools: user variety of scientifically validated psychometrics as well as diverse games to test the chosen competencies
  • Schedule: make sure that people make the best use of available time and let the right amount of time for each exercise
  • Assessors: use neutral and well-trained assessors

Author: Affentranger Kveton +Partners Sàrl, Place de Savoie 2, CH-1260 Nyon, Switzerland