With shortage of talent and increased focus on the need to have talented employees a number of organizations are wanting to have ADCs. This is a good trend. We wish the following to be noted.

What is required for Conducting an ADC?

  1. Define your purpose. (Potential assessment for promotion decisions or only for development decisions like preparation for the future roles or Identification of fast movers or high potential employees to put them on a fast track or a substitute for performance appraisal due to limitations of assessment on competencies by the existing performance appraisal system etc.)
  2. Identify the competencies required for assessment (This depends on the purpose. If the purpose is to promote employees, the competencies should relate to the future jobs they are expected to perform after promotion. If it is a substitute for current performance the competencies defined in the PMS can be taken up or alternately some new competencies as per the purpose should be defined and stated. If it is for fast track identification the competencies needed across various levels to be called as potential fast trackers need to be identified.) 
  3. Identify Tools. The tools will depend on the competencies. Several tools are available from the market. They are priced per candidate and the price may range around $ 20 to $100 per candidate depending on the nature of tools. Simple role plays are less expensive and sophisticated management games and in-baskets are expensive. They are normally charged on the basis of the each candidate. Role plays and Management Games can be accessed form the books of Pfeiffer and Jones or Pfeiffer Associates (Available in India from Multimedia publishers from Mumbai). There are several books on Role plays.
  4. Identify assessors ( the assessors should be trained in ADCs and should have skills in observation, recording, classification, assessment and feedback. Assessors training programs are conducted for them by various agencies. Such training may range from about 30 to 40 hours depending on the prior exposure of the assessors and their skill background and occupation. If in-house assessors are chosen they should be at least two levels above in hierarchy from the levels of the participants and they should not have supervised the assesses in the past and should not have had any prior opinions of the candidates or free from biases)
  5. Train the assessors in the tools chosen. This may require a one to two day orientation. Alternately if the assessors are experienced they may be given the tools along with scoring systems and be oriented for 3 to 4 hours. Please note that if the Assessors are not trained they need to be trained  and untrained assessors should not be used.
  6. Design the ADC . The principles of ADC should be kept in mind.
  7. Provide feedback to candidate and help in developing Personal Development Plan on the basis of the feedback received.
  8. Interpret the data from ADC with care in using them for Administrative decisions. Feedback to the candidate and taking his view point are important development tools and is highly recommended. Remember that while the data generated from ADCs are helpful they have not yet demonstrated a very high predictive validity and have been found to be not necessarily related to past performance. Also the competencies demonstrated by the candidate using the ADC may vary from exercise to exercise and it should be interpreted and sued cautiously. ADC

Knowledge and Skills Required for Designing and Managing ADCs

Competencies required (K, A, S) To be  a participant in ADC

This will be decided by the company normally on the basis of the purpose and the levels for which it is meant

2  Competencies required (K, A, S) To be an Assessors in ADCs

  • Conceptual Knowledge of ADCs (history, purpose, methods, tools, assessments, validity, reliability, process, rules etc.)
  • Knowledge of competency mapping and assessment tools and techniques.
  • Knowledge of various tools and their potential and limitations
  • At least one experience of going through an ADC and using the tool which he/she is an assessor
  • Skills of Observation, Recording, Classification and Assessment
  • Skills of giving feedback
3 Competencies required (K, A, S) To Design and Conduct ADC.

  • All the above.
  • Knowledge of the tools and their sources of availability
  • Knowledge of the organization and its requirements
  • Knowledge of the limitations of ADC and their appropriateness for various purposes
  • Knowledge of the principles of conducting an ADC
  • Ability to design the ADC in terms of sequencing of the exercises, allocation of assessors, use of assessment sheets, spacing between the exercises, dynamics of participants etc.
4 Competencies required (K, A, S)To manage an ADC

  • Administration sills
  • IT skills
  • Logistics management
5 Competencies required (K, A, S)To Develop Tools required for an ADC

  • Tool development skills. These are intense skills to be developed. Training in developing various tools requires various durations of training. Easiest to develop may be Role plays which can be done through a two to three day skills training on Role plays.
  • In-basket development skills can be developed similarly over a two to three day skill development exercises.
  • Behavior simulations and Psychometrics may require a wider exposure and insights into human behavior. Tools like MBTI requires a week’s training and 16 PF two to three day training and a psychology background, Thomas Profiling a two day training and so on. Each tool has its own requirements. Even use of Udai Pareek’s Handbook of HR Instruments needs training in its use.
  • TVRLS offers special programs in psychometric testing
6 Competencies required (K, A, S) Using Data of ADC for development decisions, Promotions etc.

  • Knowledge of ADCs, their reliability, validity and limitations
  • Ability to prepare development plans from ADC data. Most often ADC data are sketchy and numbers. This requires an understanding of behavior indicators and seeking right information from the Assessors on the meaning of competencies etc.
  • Understanding of the organization and its requirements.
  • Ability to use multiple sources of information and taking HR decisions.

When should I go for an ADC

 ADCs are resource (experts) intensive and hence they are expensive. A one day ADC may require a minimum of four assessors and may cost a minimum of eight consulting days of charges (4 x 2 days one day for conducting the ADC and one day for processing the data and preparing reports etc. and some times for the first ADC it may involve more days if tools have to be identified etc.) This is one of the reasons why ADCs have not become popular in India and even in the US or UK itself.  They are gaining popularity now a days as talent has become scarce and organizations are repeatedly required to spot talent within their own company or outside.

Look for the benefits of the ADCs. Calculate the ROI. The development needs identified in the ADC may require further investments by the company than merely the investments on ADC and are often not easy. For example some organizations have identified Achievement Motivation and Change management and leadership skills as development needs after an ADC. These skills require not merely sponsoring a candidate for a program but following up and continuously providing an environment for practicing the skills.

Low Cost Assessments or Substitute ADCs

There can be many innovative and cheaper methods of assessment.

A well designed biographic form or career history form itself can be a good assessment tool.

Similarly a well conducted Interview using the principles of Behavior even interview can be a good assessment tool. This combined with Psychometric tests conducted in a development atmosphere and trust can go a long way in identifying candidate with potential.

If we add to the above a case discussion and a group discussion or a presentation in-house can be a deadly combination.

Add to this some external assessment by trained experts may solve the issue for a number of organization.

However remember that in such a case each candidate needs to be assessed on the basis of three to four hours of inputs given to a team of experts. In a day, the team may be able  at best to assess four to six candidates.

There are always costs involved in assessment. Ascertain the ROI before you undertake the assessment task and choose your methodology.