How to Pair Talent Assessments to Optimize the Development Process

Some say that two heads are better than one. When it comes to leveraging two scientifically-validated, powerful assessment tools, we would say the same. That’s why we’ve created this guide to walk you through how you can use two of our most popular assessments — the Leadership Skills Profile — Revised (LSP-R) and SIGMARadius — in tandem to optimize your talent development efforts.

Intro to the LSP-R

The LSP-R is a scientifically valid, self-report personality assessment that predicts individual potential on 50 leadership competencies. Countless studies have shown that our personalities influence our attitudes, motivation, and behaviors at work. Because personalities are generally stable sets of traits, assessments of personality can give us a good indication of how an individual is likely to approach their work in the future.[i] The LSP-R was developed based on this notion, leveraging theory from personality psychology and decades of validation data to produce accurate, data-driven results regarding the test-takers’ leadership potential.

The LSP-R can be used in a variety of contexts, particularly for development or selection. When used for development purposes, test-takers receive a Focus Report that summarizes their results and provides guided exercises to aid in self-directed development. In the report, SIGMA’s 50 leadership competencies are rank-ordered and categorized as strengths, short-term development opportunities, and longer-term development opportunities. This gives readers the opportunity to reflect on competencies that may come naturally to them, as well as those that may require some effort to develop (for more information, check out this Sample Focus Report). In contrast, if used as part of selection, the Selection Report allows recruiters to examine the strengths of potential candidates. Additionally, the report predicts how the test taker’s personality is likely to impact performance, providing a detailed analysis of how scores may translate to the workplace (for more information check out this Sample Selection Report).

Intro to SIGMARadius

Like the LSP-R, SIGMARadius is a personality-based leadership assessment, however, it differs in that it collects information from a variety of sources rather than just from the test-taker themselves. SIGMARadius incorporates feedback from supervisors, coworkers, subordinates, and the test-taker themselves to provide a holistic assessment of performance.

Performance measures that leverage multiple sources of information, like SIGMARadius, are often called 360-degree assessments. These comprehensive measures have gained popularity in recent years for several reasons. First, and perhaps most importantly, there is resounding agreement among both coaches and researchers that a well-constructed 360-degree feedback system can help build self-awareness and facilitate positive change.[ii] Second, acquiring information from a variety of sources can help improve both the quality and quantity of performance information. Performance ratings are based on what the rater has observed, and therefore, including multiple raters who may have observed the individual’s behavior in different contexts creates a more complete picture of performance. Finally, because SIGMARadius uses different types of raters, the results enable leaders to consider their performance from multiple perspectives.

SIGMARadius uses the information given by the raters to provide leaders with numeric scores as well as narrative feedback for 51 key leadership competencies. The numeric scores tell the leader how well they are doing whereas the narrative feedback provides them with an idea of why they received that score, as well as suggestions for the future. The scores can then be used for administrative purposes (e.g., by HR professionals or organizational decision-makers) or developmental purposes (e.g., by the leader themselves). When used for administrative purposes, the scores from SIGMARadius can provide HR professionals and managers with rich information regarding the performance and progress of leaders within their organization. When used for developmental purposes, leaders will go through their own reports, often with the support of a coach, and engage in a self-awareness building and goal-setting process. Because the SIGMARadius report allows leaders to make a direct comparison between rating sources, leaders can identify discrepancies or inconsistencies in ratings on each of the competencies. For example, perhaps a leader has been rated as strong in communication by their superiors and colleagues but not by direct reports. This provides valuable information for goal-setting and developmental action. When used for developmental purposes, it can be particularly helpful to compare a leader’s self-ratings to the ratings provided by others. It is human nature to believe that we are above average in most areas of life. This is a psychological phenomenon known as the “better-than-average effect.” Although the better-than-average effect is a useful tendency that evolved to protect our self-esteem, it can also cause us to overlook areas that may require improvement. Self-other rating discrepancies identified in the report can help combat this phenomenon, and, if effectively framed by a coach, can enhance self-awareness in a productive way. For more information, take a look at this sample SIGMARadius Leadership Effectiveness Report.

How to Use the LSP-R and SIGMARadius Together

The LSP-R and SIGMARadius are both rooted in SIGMA’s leadership competency framework. The framework, which is scientifically validated and based on well-established leadership theory, contains 50 leadership competencies that are relevant across a variety of industries. Because the LSP-R and SIGMARadius both use the common language of SIGMA’s competency framework, they can be effectively combined to support leadership development. First, the LSP-R can be used to provide information on leaders’ natural propensity on leadership competencies, then SIGMARadius can be used to collect feedback on how the leader is performing on each behavior at work. In short, the LSP-R can tell you what to work on and SIGMARadius tells you how you are progressing towards your development goals.

If you are interested in using this two-pronged approach to facilitating your talent development, you can follow these 5 simple steps to make sure you are effectively combining the LSP-R with SIGMARadius:

  • Take the LSP-R. Although development is an iterative and ongoing process, everyone needs to start somewhere. We recommend starting with the LSP-R. The LSP-R is a great tool to begin the development process because it provides leaders with information on the areas that may come more easily to them based on their natural tendencies. Results can therefore be used to create self-awareness around how the leader’s personality may play into their development efforts.
  • Complete the activities in the Focus Report. After taking the LSP-R, we recommend using the exercises in the Focus Report to set meaningful development goals based on your results. At this stage, leaders should have an opportunity to think about which competencies they want to focus on and how they might begin to develop their skills in these areas. Leaders may find it beneficial to work with a coach or mentor to help them develop an action plan and set S.M.A.R.T goals. It is important to use this opportunity to reflect on what you want to achieve with your development efforts, as this will allow you to meaningfully apply the results of the 360 assessment in the next stage.
  • Implement. Set aside a few months to implement your action plan. Take time regularly to reflect on your progress and make sure you are putting in effort towards your development goals.
  • Assess Performance with SIGMARadius. After you’ve had a chance to implement your development plan for a few months, it’s time to measure your progress using SIGMARadius. Because SIGMARadius assesses the same competencies that are predicted by the LSP-R, leaders can use this as a tool to see how they are doing in their chosen areas of development. This also means that leaders will already be familiar with the competencies measured by SIGMARadius. As noted above, leaders will have the opportunity to review their ratings from supervisors, colleagues, and direct reports on each competency. The report also includes self-ratings, which can be useful for identifying discrepancies between a leader’s own perceptions of progress and how that progress is perceived by others. We recommend doing this review with a coach or leadership consultant, as results can feel overwhelming at first. Coaches can guide leaders through their emotional reactions to their results, and they can also provide context for interpreting and using this information in a productive way.
  • Adjust as Needed. Development is an ongoing process. To that end, feedback from SIGMARadius can be used to adjust or modify goals as needed. For example, if SIGMARadius results indicate that a leader is reaching or exceeding their development goals, then this would be a good time for more challenging goals to be set or perhaps to focus on a different area. On the other hand, if more development is still needed, SIGMARadius feedback will provide advice on how leaders can modify their development plan to improve their rating in the future.

Leaders can revisit their LSP-R results and repeat Stages 2–5 as needed to maintain their development efforts over time. This process of creating, implementing, and modifying action plans helps to ensure the continuous development of high potential leaders, and can be applied in a variety of contexts within the organization.

Using the LSP-R and SIGMARadius for Succession Planning

Leaders may have different reasons for wanting to pursue a long-term talent development plan, such as increasing mastery in their current role or as part of the succession process. It is a common misconception that succession plans are designed to find and train replacements for employees who are about to leave the organization. Although the ability to fill vacancies is often an outcome of succession planning, strong succession plans focus on building an internal talent pool long before a position becomes vacant. In this way, succession planning is a proactive, ongoing process that focuses on developing a group of qualified candidates. For more information, you can check out our blog on the difference between succession planning and replacement hiring.

The LSP-R and SIGMARadius can be effectively combined to optimize succession planning. SIGMA already has comprehensive blogs on using both the LSP-R and SIGMARadius for succession. In a nutshell, the LSP-R is used at the beginning of the succession planning process to validate existing role criteria, identify and nominate candidates, identify development priorities for candidates, and create custom development plans. SIGMARadius can then be brought in to assess the development progress. The steps for using the LSP-R and SIGMARadius in tandem for succession planning are summarized below:

  1. Use the LSP-R to validate Success Profiles: A foundational step in SIGMA’s succession planning process is building and validating Success Profiles. Success Profiles are documents that outline the skills and expertise needed for a given role, both now and in the future. Success Profiles are created for critical roles, and draw on information from the succession advisory team and the current incumbent. Although these individuals have the best knowledge of the critical role, it is important to introduce objectivity at this stage by using scientifically validated assessments, such as the LSP-R. After the initial drafts of the Success Profiles are created, the current incumbent can take the LSP-R and use the results to confirm that the relevant competencies required for success in the role are included in the Success Profile. Compare the incumbent’s results with the draft profile and update accordingly (i.e., if any of the incumbent’s strengths are missing, they should likely be added to the profile).
  2. Use the LSP-R to identify and nominate candidates: Taking care to build and validate Success Profiles early on is crucial, as the profile becomes the criteria by which potential candidates are identified and nominated. The LSP-R can be helpful here too, as it is quick and easy to use, enabling organizations to widely administer the assessment to a large group of potential candidates. The results from the potential candidates can be compared to the success profile for the critical role to determine who may be ready to assume the role now or in the future.
  3. Use the LSP-R to determine development priorities: Once candidates have been nominated, their LSP-R results can be used to create a Candidate Profile. This profile summarizes the candidate’s strengths as well as any skills that need to be developed in order to prepare them for the critical role. Development opportunities are identified by comparing the Candidate Profile to the Success Profile of the role for which they are being considered. With the support of a leader or coach, a development plan can be created to build the competencies needed to for success in the critical role.
  4. Use SIGMARadius to measure progress: Once candidates have had an opportunity to implement their development plans, SIGMARadius can be used to assess their progress. As previously mentioned, the LSP-R and SIGMARadius use the same competency model, making it straightforward for candidates to apply the feedback to the development opportunities identified in the earlier stages by the LSP-R. Candidates can use their 360-feedback to determine if their development plans are having the desired effect by looking at both the numeric scores and narrative feedback for the competencies that they have been working on.
  5. Use SIGMARadius for purposeful action: Beyond the evaluation of their progress, candidates can use the information from SIGMARadius to build self-awareness and leverage this to create more purposeful development plans. For example, if a candidate is working on becoming more decisive and all rating sources have rated them highly except their supervisor, this can help them target their development efforts in the next iteration of their plan (e.g., working with their supervisor to set goals or build skills in this area). Further, if the candidate notices that there are gaps between their own perceptions of their progress (i.e., self-ratings) and the ratings of others, then this can also be an important moment to consider how to translate their efforts into impactful, observable behaviors. This process of evaluating progress and modifying development plans is essential to prepare candidates to successfully take on critical roles in the future.

SIGMA Can Help

If you are ready to start leveraging leadership assessments in your organization, visit SIGMA’s website to learn more about the LSP-R and SIGMARadius. If the content on succession planning resonated with you, check out SIGMA’s Succession Planning Training and Launch Series. These services walk you through our six-step succession planning process and elaborate on how to use the LSP-R and SIGMARadius in your talent development process. You can also contact us directly for more information. We’re always happy to speak with you!

Contact Us

[i]Hughes, D. J., & Batey, M. (2017). Using personality questionnaires for selection. In H. W. Goldstein, E. D. Pulakos, J. Passmore, & C. Semedo (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell handbook of the psychology of recruitment, selection and employee retention (pp. 151–181). Wiley Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118972472.ch8

[ii]Nowack, K. M., & Mashihi, S. (2012). Evidence-based answers to 15 questions about leveraging 360-degree feedback. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 64(3), 157–182. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030011

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