Recently I had the pleasure of attending SHL’s (www.shl.com) L.I.N.K. event in Orlando, FL. L.I.N.K. stands for Learn, Interact, Network, and Know, and I had the opportunity to do all of those at this event. I also had the opportunity to learn about what SHL is doing in the assessment arena. SHL is an industry leader in the assessment area and it appears they have an assessment for every job, in every industry. My interactions focused on assessments and their importance to organizations.

Learning, interacting, and networking is important, especially as we (Brandon Hall Group) know that from the research we have conducted, assessments offer different opportunities for both technology providers and for client companies. Assessments are the next big opportunity for Talent Management Providers and LMS providers to buy or build into their existing systems, and they also represent an amazing opportunity for clients to better understand their talent pools.

Every organization wants to have a great team of people working to make their organization better. Successful enterprises take many things into consideration when building a team, but to the surprise of many, group or team intelligence doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the intelligence of individuals. Assessment testing allows the organization to determine if the most important traits of a world class team are possible with the available individuals. In building a great team, the ability of the team members to listen and provide feedback constructively is critical to its success. Of course, a good team member is intelligent, but these individuals must also display emotional intelligence.

In the past, I have had outstanding opportunities to work with many wonderful team members, many of whom I would consider to be the best and the brightest anywhere. However, this intelligence does not always translate into a great team. I have seen team dynamics that were more focused on individuals trying to focus on their own strengths rather than working towards goals as a team. This game playing does not make for a sustainable team in today’s workforce. Your best people won’t want to be part of a team where someone is always trying to prove their superiority by putting down the rest of the team, and if assessments are done on potential team members before they join the team, the organization can determine whether or not individuals are a good fit from an emotional intelligence standpoint.

Generational norms are also becoming a factor for companies to consider when building teams. In 2010, US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that by 2013 the millennial generation will make up 40% of the work force. Millennials were born between 1982 and 2002, and companies sometimes forget that members of this generation will be turning 30 next year, and are becoming organizational leaders. Some of these people are managers and a select few may become your next boss or the company’s youngest CEO or VP if they haven’t already. I believe the millennial generation is going to be very successful and as they learn to have a voice and a seat at the table, they are going to be a very important part of the team. The advancement of this generation into company leadership is especially important when organizations are looking to create teams to function well together.

The necessity of teams functioning well together leads me back to assessments. Americans happen to be one of the lowest users of assessments in the world. However, our initial research shows that if a company is embarking on any kind of a learning strategy, a talent strategy, or heck, a new business strategy, any of these initiatives will be more successful if the organization engages in assessments before moving forward. Having a talent strategy without utilizing scientifically proven assessments is like getting married before dating. Sometimes the results are positive, but most people would agree they wouldn’t want to operate that way. Some advanced assessment of potential team members and team characteristics is critical for a team’s success.

I would love to hear your thoughts around assessments and how your organization conducts assessments for its team members. It is a fascinating topic and one we want to hear from all of you on as we conduct our research in these areas.

Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company's growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company's global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike's tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.

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