3 Critical Mistakes
Trainers Commonly Make
As They Implement And
...And How You Can Avoid Them
By Dr. Tony Alessandra
Mistake #1--Thinking That A Paper-Based System
Is Cost Effective
When paper & pencil assessments
first appeared on the training
horizon...they revolutionized the process.
Now, for the first time, students
and trainers alike were able to see what
was going on with greater clarity than ever
This new tool was embraced and widely used to accelerate the processes
of growth, understanding and learning...but there were a few problems:
Step one was getting trainees to fill out the assessment. Many saw it as a
tedious chore. Compliance (unless the velvet glove comes out) was typically 60%
to 80% at best.
Many were happy to "settle"¯ for that level of compliance, but the drop-off
tended to undermine the total training effort and cast some doubt on the value.
Do the Math
The second hurdle in the compliance
problem was related to scoring.
Most people don't do graphing and math
Frankly, many paper assessments are
scored just plain wrong. Getting the wrong
numbers in the box, adding things up
incorrectly creates a trainer's worst nightmare working on the wrong training
objective because of bad data.
Is It Done Yet?
Vendor scored assessments may be scored correctly, but create a whole
other set of problems: the time lag involved to produce the results and a host of
privacy and confidentiality issues as paper documents float around through mail
Much of the impact of the assessment comes when the results are available
immediately as opposed to a time lag.
"You know, I'm not sure what our training should focus on."
Another significant problem with paper based
systems is the difficulty in consolidating the
results very desirable process if you're working
with a big group.
Learning, through group assessment, what the
group needs are, and designing training to target
those needs, produces the best results.
When you're staring at a stack of 200 completed assessments that what to focus on¯
information is so close, but so far away.
If you could spend more time designing training to a precise set of needs
rather than collating and summing paper assessment results do you think your
training effectiveness would improve?
Visibility - Not Hidden In File Drawer
Certain assessments can be of tremendous value if their summary
information is shared.
But the process of gathering and collating that data, putting it into a
coherent graphic display and getting it to the people who can make a difference is
hampered if your paper assessments are lying in the bottom of a file drawer.
Conclusion: The hidden cost of assessments is in the
administrative burden of issuing, tracking, scoring and
disseminating the information. A paper-based system sentences
the trainer to an unnecessary block of administrative time that
could be better invested in the analysis of results and directed
training in the areas that matter most. To try a free sample of a totally
automated online assessment, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mistake #2--Using a System That Is Only
Descriptive In Nature
Now that many trainers are able to use
assessments in an online environment many of
the drawbacks of the paper based assessments
Like any new technology...once one set
of problems is solved, a whole new set
emerges...and the same has happened with the
proliferation of online assessments.
The vast majority might give a good indication of where¯ a person is with respect
to an analytical model but unless the insight i
leveraged with prescription, the process may
have done little more good than reading your
Imagine the physician telling the patient, It looks like there are some
warning signs of cancer.¯ And then says, That's the end of our appointment.' The
patient pleads, Doctor, what do I do?¯ The doctor says, Well, that's not my field. I just diagnose whether you
have something or not, and that's it.¯
Many assessments only give you a
description, an introspective look at yourself.
Some go a little further.
Unfortunately, insufficient prescriptive
information can create stress and undermine
the entire assessment process.
2 Dimensions of Prescription¯
There are 2 elements to look for in the
The first is volume of information.
Usually an assessment will identify a number of characteristics and make a number of distinctions. Many fall short at this point
when they only make a sweeping summary
statement or series of statements. In this case,
you're looking for a greater volume of
information as it relates to those distinctions
Once the volume of information is sufficient, the question of quality comes into
play. Unless the prescriptive information is actionable, it is of little value.
Confusing or vague prescriptions¯ serve only to frustrate
the person once they've invested their time,
honesty, and vulnerability in the process.
Conclusion: Assessments that are diagnostic only can build stress and
a sense of low self-esteem. Any system selected must provide
prescriptive information to enable the employee to take self-directed
action towards improving their performance.
For a sample of effective prescriptive information in an assessment context,
send an email to: email@example.com
Mistake #3--Not Selecting Assessment Tools That
Provide Full 360 Views
Every decade or so, an advancement comes along that completely
revolutionizes the status quo.
The 360 view for assessments is just
such a breakthrough.
If you don't understand the profound
implications of this approach, you owe it to
yourself to examine what follows to get a clear
The 360 assessment involves those around¯ the person being assessed. Their
opinions and inputs are fed into the assessment
process resulting in a much more complete and
accurate view of those being assessed.
A reasonable question is, Why 360?
Seems like a lot of extra work?¯
There are essentially 2 reasons the 360 is such a leap forward:
Spoof the Test
One of the challenges with assessments is that crafty respondents can game¯ the
process. By responding to questions the way they think the boss, the company,
the organization wants¯ them to respond, the respondents can wind
up with nearly useless information.
Conversely, if the respondent is
aware that this is a 360 process, the levels of
openness and honesty frequently shift in a direction
that gives a more accurate picture.
The other challenge with assessments is that people behave very
differently as their role changes throughout the work day.
The field service person, for example has one set of behaviors and attitude they
exhibit while dealing inside¯ the company and a different set of behaviors
when dealing with customers.
We observed a dramatic
example of this recently.
In the sales assessment, there
are three groups of people that you can
send these out to:
Your sales managers
When this sales manager reviewed the results of his team he was shocked
to see his rating of his sales rep were substantially lower than the sales rep's self
Here's the problem
When the boss says you're underperforming and the team member thinks they're doing great it creates a lot of tension in the team.
(and the problem for salespeople is that fully
90% of their work may be outside of view or earshot
of the boss.)
The manager got the idea to provide the
assessment to the salesperson's clients.
Particularly in sales, the prospect/client is the
one who ultimately decides who's doing a good job.
Interestingly, the clients, in this case, rated the
salesperson very high in the exact same skill areas the
manager had rated him low.
The manager was able to adjust his view and
be a better coach to the salesperson because the perspective was altered by the
Sadly, there is one major drawback to the 360 .
In the past, the process of the 360 came with a large administrative
As a paper process, there were mailing,
delivery and compliance issues.
Assuming you jumped over all those
hurdles, you then had to spend the time required to
score and consolidate the information into a single,
The Internet and data processing came
along and solved some of those problems but
360 assessments vary widely in their usefulness
and ability to reduce your administrative work load.
Conclusion: A system that doesn't offer a 360 view
is less effective in today's workplace. The
importance of working on collaborative teams makes
this capability a hard and fast requirement.
To receive our free report, 10 Questions to Ask Any 360
Assessment Vendor to Insure You Get a Top Notch Process¯ send an email to
Unfortunately, there are a lot more than 3 fatal
mistakes you can make today!
Instead of putting your energy, effort and money into
fixing any fatal mistake after the fact, it may be time to take a
more careful look at how a comprehensive online assessment
process can reduce your aggravation and increase your profits.
Take advantage of the tools offered.
Learn and understand the latest approaches to delivering a higher quality of
training, reducing the administrative burden and maintaining your sanity (it's easier than
you might think)...
The business climate will continue to be chaotic...but with a little investment of
your time, you can reap big rewards for you and your team.
To receive a complete set of the documents referenced in this report, please
send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
About The Author
Tony Alessandra, PhD, CSP, CPAE
Dr. Alessandra is the founder and president of Online Assessments, a company that
offers online multi-rater assessments on a powerful technology platform in the areas of
leadership, team building, sales skills, time management, DISC, behavioral styles, writing
skills and goal setting.
Tony helps companies build customers, relationships, and the bottom-line. Companies
learn how to achieve market dominance through specific strategies designed to
outmarket, outsell, and outservice the competition by applying Dr. Alessandra's
marketing, sales, service, and relationship-building skills. He offers practical ideas that
produce profitable bottom-line results.
Tony has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having fought his way
out of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing,
entrepreneur, business author, and keynote speaker. He earned his MBA in 1970 from the
University of Connecticut---and his PhD in marketing in 1976 from Georgia State
Dr. Alessandra is a widely published author with 14 books translated into 17 foreign
languages including Charisma (Warner Books, 1998); The Platinum Rule (Warner
Books, 1996); Collaborative Selling (John Wiley & Sons, 1993); and Communicating at
Work (Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1993). He is featured in over 50 audio/video programs
and films, including Relationship Strategies (American Media); The Dynamics of
Effective Listening (Nightingale-Conant); and Non-Manipulative Selling (Walt Disney).
Recognized by Meetings & Conventions Magazine as one of America's most
electrifying speakers,¯ Dr. Alessandra was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame in
1985---and is a member of the Speakers Roundtable, a group of 20 of the world's top
professional speakers. Tony's polished style, powerful message and proven ability as a
consummate business strategist consistently earns rave reviews.