An executive recently shared his leadership assessment feedback from a previous consultant with me. As usual, the report was massive. It was beautifully printed and bound, with lovely charts and graphs. It included one computer-generated report after another, each with a multitude of scales and interpretations of what each score meant. The reports also included a number of developmental suggestions, some of them contradicting each other.
“Did you find this helpful?” I asked. “Sort of,” he responded. “I learned some things about myself, but I didn’t really get a clear sense of what I should do next.”
Exactly! I am tired of seeing these reports. In my opinion, they are a lazy shortcut for the consultant. Don’t get me wrong –formal assessment tools can be a useful part of an executive assessment process.
But you don’t need a consultant to get undigested test results. There are a multitude of self-assessment tools available for free on the internet. So if you are going to pay a high-priced consultant, you have the right to expect more.
Here’s what first-rate professional feedback looks like:
• The consultant has spent some time – at least an hour, preferably two or more – getting to know you, your situation, and what questions the assessment is designed to answer.
• Any assessment tools have been chosen to answer specific questions about you, not a scatter-shot approach. These tools are well-researched, scientifically-designed instruments that have been proven to measure what they say they measure.
• You get both written and verbal feedback from the consultant, preferably in person.
• The report is written by the consultant, not computer-generated. It incorporates the data from the interview as well as the assessment tools and synthesizes them around major themes and findings. Individual test results may be included, but they are supporting evidence, not the whole package.
• The consultant gives you at most three developmental recommendations. These are specific and measurable, closely linked to the findings in the report. They are relevant to you, your context, and your goals. There is no point in offering more than three suggestions – no one has the time, energy, or focus to work on that many goals at once.
• Your questions get answered.
Whether you are seeking information for your own leadership development or using a consultant to help you make decisions about potential new hires, you have a right to expect this level of professional involvement and rigor.