Assessing high-potentials and senior executives: Healthcare vs. Top Companies

Of all the areas known to contribute to the effectiveness leadership development systems, there is none for which the evidence base is stronger than the use of high-quality assessments. But it is also well-known that management practices, like clinical practices, often take quite a while to catch up to science.

What is the current state of assessment in practice? Recently two industrial psychologists, Allan Church and Christopher Rotolo, conducted a study to find out. Both work for Pepsico, a company well-known for its sophisticated leadership development practices, and are well-connected to other companies that emphasizing leadership development as a core competency. (Most had received national recognition for their leadership development programs.)  From the 84 companies responding to their survey, insights included:

  • The most frequently cited populations the organizations used assessments with were senior executives (90%), followed by middle managers (81%) and high-potentials (75%).
  • The most frequently used assessments were 360-degree feedback (60% for senior executives; 66% for high-potentials), followed by personality inventories (57% for senior executives, 66% for high-potentials).
  • The most frequently cited purposes of assessments were to identify development needs (74% for senior executives; 82% for high-potentials) followed by identification of potential (30% for senior executives, 50% for high-potentials).  The least frequently cited purpose was external recruitment / selection (25% for senior executives, 14% for high-potentials).

At NCHL’s annual conference on November 19th in Chicago, we will be taking a look at how Allan and Christopher’s results compare to the 104 leading U.S. health systems who participated in NCHL’s 2013 survey of leadership development practices.  (A quick preview: although the use of high-quality assessments in healthcare leadership development is growing, we still clearly lag behind the best-in-class companies from other industries.)

Several organizations presenting at the annual conference have particularly strong assessment programs as part of their work. We look forward to hearing more about them very soon, and hope many of you will be able to join us.  For those who can’t, we will be providing a white-paper on our findings.  Look for it this winter.


About Andrew Garman

Chief Executive Officer, NCHL; Professor, Health Systems Management Department, Rush University

One response to “Assessing high-potentials and senior executives: Healthcare vs. Top Companies”

  1. Bryan Warren says :

    Andrew. Interesting piece. We should catch up on our executive assessment program. We are finding that healthcare is adopting progressive talent strategies, including assessments but still a bit slow to adopt the sort of executive assessment tools and processes used in other industries.

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