Assessments provide more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. If utilised appropriately, they create ‘stickiness’ through enabling meaningful conversations while driving high performance and shaping your desired culture to realise strategy. Below we provide perspectives, answers or suggestions to everyday questions that leaders struggle with when managing talent at a senior/executive/young talent level. Below is an overview of 4 key considerations:

Adopt a holistic assessment battery that includes, but is not limited to: behaviour, EQ, and conceptual ability.
Key to gaining an in-depth understanding and accurate prediction of both current and future behaviour and/or performance. More info…
THE PENDULUM EFFECTProvide one-on-one assessment feedback to both the individual and business.Creates a space for meaningful conversations which may provide critical context to assessment data. Showcases a culture of growth, generosity, and care. More info…
AN EXCO OF MBA’s ≠ STRATEGIC THINKINGLook below the surface because knowledge and qualifications do not necessarily equate to strategic thinking and leadership ability.While not a silver bullet, managing complexity and ambiguity are key to designing and driving strategy in our changing world. Similarly, EQ is key to unlocking leadership impact and potential. More info…
PROGNOSIS OF CHANGEConsider an individual’s ‘prognosis for change’ when contemplating non-negotiables for success.Understanding what is more or less changeable/trainable within an individual’s makeup is key to understanding and mitigating risk, and provides input into the type and timing attached to development needs. More info…

Have you recruited a person with the right qualifications, experience, and a can-do attitude, only to be disappointed by their performance. What went wrong? The word assessment or psychometric is often met with intrigue and angst. Intrigue at what one may learn, and angst at what one may uncover. We will be sharing our insights over four posts, to help demystify psychometric assessments.

Our pre-frontal cortex, the part responsible for cognitive processing, is like an elevator. It only has so much space. When overwhelmed or under pressure we focus on the items in the front of the queue, and so in a time-pressured decisions, we innately tend to focus on the data in front of us. Likewise, if the assessment battery and process you are using is limiting, your decisions will also be based on a limited view.

An individual is more than their test results; we are all colourful, complex and intricate beings. It is thus imperative to use an assessment battery and process that captures different and complementary perspectives. The non-negotiables to forming a holistic view in order to predict and understand current and future behaviour are;

  • Personality/behaviours (an understanding of their preferences, what they are likely to be attracted to and good at)
  • Thinking (assessing their skill set, ability to manage complexity and ambiguity)
  • Emotional intelligence (which is key to unlocking growth and potential)

Technical skills and experience are a given, and should be reviewed on the CV, and explored in an interview. Other aspects such as integrity, values, judgement etc. are useful within specific contexts.

In addition to psychometrics, leaders should strive to have a real and meaningful conversation with any individual they are considering as future talent. One which goes beyond a discussion of job requirements and technical skill, to focus on what really matters to the individual e.g. their purpose, what really drives them and what disengages them. This is key to culture fit, ensuring performance, engagement and retention.

Today, high-touch leadership practices are a game-changer. As the pendulum has swung in favour of digital efficiency, the need for intimacy and connection has increased.

In the 1980’s, John Naisbitt* predicted that our workplaces would evolve to become more ‘high-tech’, while losing our ability to be ‘high-touch’. He was spot on. People are longing to be understood, heard and cared for as a whole-beings. Failing to shift to high-touch leadership practices could have concerning implications such as lower levels of happiness and productivity (partly due to low employee engagement), decrease in team collaboration, and the loss of critical talent.

More often than not, assessments are completed for recruitment and selection. Ideally, candidate assessment results should be discussed with them prior to these results being provided to the hiring manager. Never before have we experienced candidates engaging so authentically in our one-on-one assessment feedbacks: a safe space in which honest feedback is provided in a constructive and developmental manner, while allowing time and space for conversation and sharing.

Such high-touch engagements not only enable our consultants to bring depth of context to our business feedback sessions (while respecting confidentiality), but also allow for a 2-way selection process in which the candidate can reflect on questions such as: “is this job and organisation the right fit for me?”

Providing feedback to the business leader/decision maker(s) allows for carefully considered decision making in which there is an awareness of the individual’s strengths and gaps, as well as insight into how to lead and engage them to enable high performance. With hybrid working models becoming increasingly common, some may find that this fast-tracks insights that may otherwise take valuable time to unlock.

Even if not suited to the role in question, the conversation may bring awareness to other, more suitable opportunities within the organisation. Questions elicited may also form the basis of the final interview. For candidates who are appointed, this high-touch feedback forms a basis for ‘tailored’ onboarding and developmental discussions that feed the need for talent intimacy.

Going the extra mile and providing one-on-one feedback to both the candidate and business is a powerful way for an organisation to showcase a culture of growth, generosity, and care – the sticky factor that attracts talent to, and retains them within an organisation.

*Megatrends –

“But they have an MBA?”

– if only we had a Rand for every time business/hiring managers say this to us in an assessment feedback session. Qualifications do not equate to strategic thinking ability. For example, an MBA provides an individual with models and learnings upon which to draw, but does not guarantee the thinking ability required to create new and transformative models, solutions, and/or processes.

An individual’s level of managing complexity (not to be confused with complicatedness or difficulty) and high levels of ambiguity are key determinants of their ability to contribute strategically because they allow one to imagine beyond the known and current context. This is imperative at senior and executive levels within complex and changing organisations and markets, especially when the rules of the game are being rewritten.

Stratified Systems Theory (SST) based assessments and thinking provide a powerful framework to test for and understand this concept. To learn more about such a test, the Complexity Navigation Test (CNT) visit

Whether one characterises the business world as VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) or BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensive), there seems to be the notion that strategic thinking is the silver bullet to leadership and business success. While we agree on its criticality, we must also not detract from the impact and importance of more operationally focused and tactical leaders. A 10/10 strategy is worth little if not complemented by the ability to translate it into plans that others can understand and implement effectively.

Leaders who are able to apply acquired knowledge and experience in a flexible and appropriate manner, especially when complemented by a hardworking and dedicated nature, are critical to business success. We firmly believe that organisations need all of these styles of thinking to thrive, and that it is the failure to achieve the required mix of thinkers that can set organisations up for collapse.

Our advice is to focus on ensuring that the right leadership capability is empowered in the right space to ensure that organisational strategy is not only created but effectively translated and implemented.

Many organisations currently find themselves operating in highly unpredictable environments characterised by decreasing levels of stability. Such organisations often find themselves having to adjust a projected course due to unanticipated external factors. An organisation’s lifespan may be at risk if their prognosis for change is low.

When considering recruitment and/or development of an individual, what informs your decision? Top of mind would usually be: having the suitable capabilities to perform the role, as well as possible alignment of values and culture fit. While these are essential, the individual’s ‘prognosis for change’, in other words, their potential to appropriately and successfully adjust to change and uncertainty, may be equally important.

When interpreting a set of assessment results, we invariably overlay them with a lens of ‘Trainability vs. Changeability’: just how changeable and trainable are the non-negotiables that the individual will need to develop to comfortably fulfil this role, and possible roles into the future. Understanding the ‘prognosis for change’ highlights risk, time/potential to perform, and required development initiatives. Trainable elements are often knowledge-based and one can rather clearly anticipate the process of learning and measuring these. Although this may take time, if the individual has the drive and thinking ability to learn these skills, a development area here would usually be of low risk.

Certain characteristics are more difficult, or sometimes impossible to develop. These are characteristics which are dependent on the individual’s motivation, ability, and desire to change. Many aspects of EQ and integrity sit here too. If these are lacking, there is no formal course that can magically elicit or build them. The development of these is driven by the individual’s desire to grow and change, coupled with a well-timed and suited training method that is aligned to the individual’s preferred learning approach. Some capabilities cannot be learned and are largely inherent, for instance, one’s ability to manage high levels of complexity and ambiguity – skills essential to strategic levels within complex, and changing organisations.

Leadership and personality attributes however, differ in their malleability. Those that are more skills based, such as managing conflict or communicating clearly, may be practiced and learned, whereas others such as empathy are more challenging to learn and change.

Thriving in a highly dynamic world requires organisations to adapt quickly to changing markets and technology. An individual’s prognosis for change can be a powerful metric to add to your people analytics toolbox.

To learn more about our approach to assessments –

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