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4 Best Practices for Employee Assessments

By Sarah Beckett on November, 12 2015
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Sarah Beckett

Assessments are an integral part of any HR strategy, with a role to play throughout the talent-management lifecycle. 

They can be used during the hiring process, to evaluate ongoing job performance, and even to identify the next steps in an employee’s career progression. So it’s important to make sure you’re getting everything you can out of this versatile HR tool.

Regardless of the HR approach you prefer, the size of your organization, or your business objectives, following these best practices will ensure that you’re creating an effective process that supports success at both the employee and organizational level.

4 Best Practices for Employee Assessments


1. Create a learning path

While the majority of companies use assessments to evaluate employee performance or potential, these assessments don’t always connect to learning supports. Without this link between assessment and learning, the assessment process can become a deeply frustrating experience for everyone involved.

For the employee whose assessment has identified shortcomings, it means they are being told they need to improve without receiving any guidance to help them get where they need to go. For the manager or HR manager, it means wasting time administering an assessment that won’t impact performance positively, and may, in fact, have a negative effect by diminishing morale.

Whether you use competencies or another talent measurement tool, make sure that performance gaps (or the potential for career progression) are linked to learning opportunities that are designed to bridge the gap.

For example, HRSG’s CompetencyCore platform enables HR professionals to assign specific learning resources (on-the-job training, certifications, courses, books, mentorships, etc.) to each proficiency level of a specific competency.

This enables employees who want to improve in their current job or work towards their next job within the organization to clearly see the steps they need to take.

2. Ensure consistency

While some organizations give individual managers considerable latitude when it comes to the methods they use to assess employees, this is not an ideal practice.

To be effective, fair, and legally defensible, assessments should be developed by the HR manager or department and applied consistently across the organization. This involves identifying a common measurement—whether it’s competencies or another metric for evaluating performance—and applying that measurement to every job.

Not only does this practice ensure greater consistency and fairness, it also makes assessments easier to develop and administer.

For example, if competencies are the measure used to assess performance, each competency can be aligned with a set of questions, tests, or other evaluation tools.

Then the competencies associated with each job will automatically determine the specific question, tests, or other evaluative techniques required to assess the employee’s performance. In this way, the process of generating assessments that consistently and accurately measure performance and potential is greatly simplified.


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3. Be clear and transparent

An assessment shouldn’t be seen as a one-way form of communication in which the organization gathers information about the employee’s performance or potential. It’s a two-way conversation which should hopefully provide as much insight to the assessed individual as to the manager or HR professional administering the assessment.

Whether you are assessing a candidate to determine whether they’re the right fit for a job, assessing an employee as part of a performance management process, or assessing a group of employees to identify the talent gaps or potential across your organization, it’s important to establish open communications.

Make sure the individuals undergoing the assessment understand why they’re being assessed, what the assessment process will look like, and how the information will be used. You’ll also want to share that information with any other individuals involved in the assessment process.

For example, a 360-degree assessment process may involve an employee’s managers, peers, and subordinates—all of whom should be informed of what’s expected of them and how their input will be collected and used.

4. Walk first, then run

If you’re establishing a new assessment process, it’s a good idea to create a pilot project before launching the new process organization-wide.

Focus on a small subgroup of employees—a specific job family or department, for example—and conduct a complete assessment cycle, including administering the assessment, delivering the results, and gathering participant feedback.

Inevitably, there will be kinks that need to be worked out and areas for improvement. Once those have been addressed, you can confidently apply the new process to a wider section of the organization as required.


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*This toolkit collection includes our introductory guide, "Assessment 101"; real-world case studies and webinar examples; and additional blog insights and video content. 



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Post last updated: January 7, 2021