• Dr. Noor Fathima

Difference between Assessment & Development Centres

There are a lot of articles on the web illustrating the difference between an Assessment Center and a Development Center and I am truly shocked at the amount of incorrect information that is circulating. This article thus helps to correct the misnomers regarding these two concepts widely misused and abused by the industry in general.

An Assessment Center (AC) refers to setting up a complete assessment lab within the organisation. A variety of assessment techniques could be used to determine the existing potential, performance, skill level and attitudes of employees within the organisation. Assessments can also be used to predict future performance of employees and very often if done correctly determine not just organisation but industry trends. Trend Analysis is a sophisticated measure of organisation maturity; tragically very few HR professionals know how to calculate this even though they have sophisticated Assessment Centers within their organisation.

Commonly used Assessment Methodologies include:

  • Standardized Psychometric Instruments

  • Organisation Surveys

  • Structured Observation

  • Simulations

  • Behavioural Event Interviews (BEI)

  • Shadowing

  • 360 degree feedbacks

Which methodology to use or what combination of methodologies to be used to address current issues within the organisation is of critical importance. Furthermore choosing right parametric and no-parametric techniques for analysis is of prime importance. Thus while setting up an assessment center within the organisation the HR team must have a thorough knowledge about the various tools, techniques and analysis.

Today the market is flooded with a variety of assessment tools that can be used in training. However, choosing the right tool to measure the right competencies is a tricky process. Reliability, validity and other psychometric properties must be thoroughly studied before a tool can be adopted.

It is also very important to keep in mind that psychometric tools should NOT be used in isolation. They are always used as a battery of instruments in combination with other Evaluation Methodologies.

Please refer the diagram below to get an idea of the various types of Psychometric tools available in the market.

Development Centers (DC) provides an end to end solution for building and sustaining capabilities within the organisation. An ‘assessment center’ is thus a part of the development center. Once inputs are got from the assessment, skill gaps identified, organisation benchmark determined then based on the current challenges and pain points employee engagements initiatives are untaken. Interventions are developed, standardized, piloted and finally implemented. It is important to follow an ‘Instructional Design System’ like the ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) technique while setting up an in-house development center.

Typically a Development Center would comprises of:

  • Assessment Center (AC)

  • Skill Enhancement Interventions (SEI)

  • Refresher courses / programs

  • Coaching (either one-on-one or group or online)

  • E Leaning

  • Post Assessments

  • Return on Investment (ROI) calibration

An accurate measure of the smooth function of a DC can be seen in evaluation stage, which focuses on application of learnings to the work environment, determining the current organisation maturity level and reporting in tangible and intangible forms the ROI to the organisation. Tragically very few organisations have a well oiled DC in place.

Organisations today, find it not just easier and economical but also reliable to outsource the running of DC for their employees to well established OD Consulting firms, which have a strong, background in organisational behaviour and psychology.

It is predicted that organisations globally in the next 7 years will witness a marked transition in their style of working – moving rapidly from ‘Full Employment Model’ to the ‘Project Life Cycle Model.’ It is in this changing world that the role of Development Centres would become even more critical than ever. New competencies, frameworks, metrics of performance and working will undergo dramatic change and it will be fascinating to observe, analyse and witness the birth of a new era in ‘talent development and management.’

Originally Published December 2, 2010 on the Disha Consulting Blog by Dr. Noor Fathima


814 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All