Assessing Talent

People are at the heart of every organization, and thus at the heart of organizational performance. People are also exceptionally diverse – in abilities, in character, in motivations, and in achievement.

As a manager, your most important and far-reaching decisions are about people: whom to hire, whom to develop, whom to promote, to whom to entrust the leadership and management of your organization and everything it does. The decisions you make about people are based on your judgments. Most people make most decisions based on guesses or intuition. You can follow them and take your chances – or you can inform yourself to the best of your ability and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

If you can select people better, you will select better people, and your organization’s overall performance will improve.

Our goal in this module is to help you become if not an expert at least far more knowledgeable and skilled in the all-important responsibility of assessing talent, to help you select well and treat people fairly and consistently, since good process is critical to employee perception and motivation. You won’t become an expert right away – that takes years of practice – but if you understand assessment better and use it to make better decisions, you’ll see the benefit very quickly. As Neal Schmitt et al. note in The Oxford Handbook of Personnel Assessment and Selection (we’ll refer often to this comprehensive volume), “even modest predictive validity can have a substantial cumulative or compound effect” (Schmitt 2012). That’s the good news.