The continued economic pressures are causing many businesses to re-examine how they work and whether they have the right people with the right capability doing the right work. But how should a business or organisation go about identifying whether or not they have the right skills in the first place?

The most straightforward means of doing this is to use a formal assessment process that will effectively measure the capabilities and training needs of each member of staff, and the following are some hints and tips about what to do and how to go about it.

1. Identifying objective criteria. The first task  is to identify the criteria that define success in a particular job role (or across a group of job roles). The criteria will need to include both technical skills criteria and work behaviour criteria. The technical skills criteria will include aspects such as qualifications, experience and job specific skills (finance, engineering, marketing etc.). The work behaviour criteria however will include aspects such as quality and standards of work, work organisation and efficiency, problem solving, reliability, interpersonal skills etc.

2. Ensure the criteria are specific and clear. Objectivity is vital in any assessment process and general criteria such as ‘works hard’, ‘writes good reports’ and ‘helps others’ should be avoided. Clarity can be provided by giving positive and negative indicators of success and performance, such as:

Positive – ensures all mandatory inspection reports and repair documentation are completed to standard and on time


Negative – Fails to complete paperwork, completes paperwork late, and misses key information from inspection reports and repair documentation. Handwriting unclear, illegible or incomprehensible.

3. Use a simple scoring mechanism. Clearly there will be a range of capabilities and therefore the scoring mechanism should reflect this. Many organisations use a straightforward scoring point mechanism, for example where:

1 – Never meets the standard for the job role and has no ability to develop

2 – Rarely meets the standard for the job role and may have some ability to develop

3 – Sometimes meets the standard for the job role and has capability to develop

4 – Usually or generally meets the standard for the job role

5 – Always achieves or exceeds the standards for the job role.

4. Prepare fully – collect specific evidence. For an assessment to be fair and objective, evidence needs to be collected and used as a basis to score each criteria. Evidence may include performance against job description, achievement of personal objectives and how they have applied any training and development they have received.

5. Allow the individual time to prepare.  It is important that the assessment process is as open as possible. To achieve this, each member of staff needs to be fully briefed so that they understand the rationale for the process , the criteria against which they will be judged and they need appropriate time to prepare and undertake an ‘assessment’ of themselves.

6. Hold an assessment interview. Each individual’s assessment should be finalised at a formal assessment interview where both parties can have an open discussion about their assessments (i.e. individual’s self-assessment, and the manager’s assessment of them). This should take the form of an open discussion with the manager taking the lead an ideally coming to a consensus/agreement on the score for each criteria.

7. Agree development needs. Once the assessment is complete, training and development needs can be identified to fill in any gaps and improve performance.

8. Set targets. To ensure that the individual is clear about what is expected, 3-5 targets should be discussed, agreed and set. These need to be specific, clear, measurable and time bounded and aimed at improving their performance.

9. Review. At the end of the meeting the process for reviewing progress and performance against targets should be agreed. The frequency will be dependent upon outcomes with those not meeting the  required standards needing more frequent reviews than those that meet them.

10. Follow up. If the assessment process is to be of any value, it is vital that the actions and targets are followed up and members of staff are held to account for their performance and progress.

As stated earlier, many organisations are using assessment techniques to ensure that they have the right people with the right capability, and hopefully the above hints and tips will provide a useful starting point for any organisation embarking on their assessment journey.