No Image Available

Annie Hayes



Read more about Annie Hayes

Opinion: The hidden costs of ‘sheep dip’ training


In the third and final part of our series, Kevin Kerrigan, managing director of SHL (UK) discusses how businesses can embrace the use of objective assessment throughout the employee’s time with an organisation.

Employing a new starter is rife with hidden costs. No candidate is perfect, so even if they demonstrate the ‘best fit’ for a role there will still be areas for development.

Most organisations offer extensive training these days, but most could be classed as ‘sheep dip training’ which sees all recruits getting the same training irrespective of their individual needs. This is expensive, inefficient and can be severely de-motivating.

Even those organisations that do offer more tailored training usually need six to 12 months to assess the specific development needs of an individual. All of this is time that the individual is likely to be underperforming, costing the organisation money and opportunities.

A more sensible approach might be to to use the data from the objective assessments (conducted at the recruitment stage) to identify training needs and establish development plans.

The same applies to ongoing personal development plans throughout the individual’s career with the organisation. The initial competency-based role description can be fed into development systems and used as the basis of 360-degree assessments, annual appraisals and personal development planning.

At key points in the employee lifecycle they can be re-assessed against competencies and obviously those required for success will change from role to role. But, with consistent objective measurement of these criteria it becomes much easier to manage an individual’s career path.

For example, early measures of potential may indicate a future star, and performance in some areas may support this. However, in certain areas this individual may be struggling.

Without detailed, granular data on the abilities, behaviours, motivation and potential of this person, they may be passed over for advancement, or even let go because of their relative failures in specific areas.

But, with clear, competency-based roles and good data on the total make-up of the individual, HR managers should be forewarned of possible weak areas and can move to focus development on these areas, or design career paths that capitalise on strengths and minimise exposure to weaknesses.

After all, not every CEO was a great manager at the beginning of their career and spotting potential, even when individuals are struggling, is key to retaining future talent.

Getting the right person in the right role to start with, ensuring that they are given personalised development plans and specific training to address areas of mutually recognised weakness is a recipe to retaining key talent.

In many ways it is the behavioural aspects that will define who is the real asset. To paraphrase Jack Welch, speaking at the 2004 Leaders in London event …’give the guy who misses his numbers, but who gets the values and culture of the organisation, give him another chance, and another, and another. But get rid of those that don’t have a ‘values fit’ between themselves and the organisation – however well they are currently performing.’

These people sap the energy of the organisation and you don’t want them. You do want those people that believe in your organisation and will exhibit positive at work behaviours, working to overcome personal weaknesses.

Spotting the difference early can have a dramatic effect on the performance and the success of the whole organisation. And you already have the data to do this, the results of objective assessments and 360 degree reviews from previous years can provide real insight into current motivation and fit!

I have made the case in these three articles for a much more scientific and data-driven approach to recruitment, selections and development. This can only be effective if HR works with line management to build detailed and realistic role profiles and job descriptions.

These competency-based profiles must then be shared with recruitment consultants if they are to be expected to deliver stellar candidates. For their part the recruitment consultants must take a longer-term view, and expect rewards in the longer term too.

By working to attract the widest possible pool of talent and then matching objectively assessed profiles to specific role competencies, rather than revisiting the same old database of contacts and forcing a match, the consultant adds real value and becomes a true partner. The backbone of this new relationship must be data, and this data flows from objective assessment.

I have conveyed some radical thoughts in the past few weeks, and I’m under no illusion that any will be easy to achieve. However, if we as an industry are to really fulfil our strategic potential then these issues must be tackled.

Other articles in this series

No Image Available
Annie Hayes


Read more from Annie Hayes

Get the latest from HRZone

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.