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Analysis of the Effective Use of Assessment Center During Recruitment and Selection Process

Literature Review

Introduction

In the recent past, the degree of sophistication in recruiter selection methods has increased greatly. There has been an increase in the intensive and vigorous techniques, like assessment centers. The assessment centers employ various methods in capturing the best predictive qualities of the former selection techniques. Such strategies entail the participants in extensive preparation, arduous experiences and great investments of their effort and time.

Because organizations exist to achieve goals, someone, who in this case is the management, has to define those goals and the means for achieving them through effective recruitment methods. The planning function involves the definition of the goals and establishment of strategies in order to achieve the previously set goals. Also, assessment centres involve development of comprehensive plans so as activities can be smoothly coordinated. With the need to accomplish all the recruitments needs, managers have to follow certain tested routines to ensure that they tackle their responsibilities neatly on filling every organizational goal (Williams and Bukowitz, 2001).

This is of great importance as the whole organization is dependent on the leadership, as it is the leaders who provide the way for the organization as well as determine the association of people within the organization. If the organization’s management set realistic goals and mobilizes the organization members, then it is certain that the organizational goals will be realized. According to Weisberg 2000, key to an organizations realization of goals is the human resource. These are the most important resource for an organization and are ever present to steer the organization forward. However, it is not possible for them to achieve the goals set if they do not have the required skills, organization, assessment techniques, planning and are not motivated. This then raises the need for particular focus on the assessment suitability and applicability (Weisberg, 2000). This chapter (literature review) will involve an extensive review of the various aspects of assessments centres KPMG Nigeria (National office Lagos branch).

Assessment Centres

The assessment centres are designed to match these opportunities with the abilities or strengths of the organization, and through the centres, recruiters should also be able to formulate ways in which to overcome inherent weaknesses within the organization (Vince et al, 1999). It is thus important to understand the central roles of recruiters in respect to the assessment centres. These are:

  1. Planning – This is a process which included the definition on of goals, establishment of strategy, the developments of plans for coordination of activities.
  2. Organizing – This involves determining what is to be done who is to do it, on top of this it defines the reporting pattern within the assessments centres or organization to ensure proper flow of information.
  3. Leading – This function includes motivating employees, selecting communication channels, directing others and resolving conflicts.
  4. Controlling – This is a process which involves keeping a close eye on assessment centres’ activities, to ensure that they proceed as planned and that they are being accomplished. It also involves taking corrective measures when things move in the wrong direction.

According to Williams and Bukowitz, 2001, Human resource planning also involves making appropriate decisions in regard to the positions that an organization ought to fill and the best ways to fill them. It also entails determining the human resource needs of an organization with respect to the stipulated strategic plan (Williams and Bukowitz, 2001). It is then important to look at the various foundations as well as needs for organizations closely to referring to KMPG and how its management sets or satisfies them. Assessments centres start with setting of organizational goals, vision, and mission, establishing the organization philosophy, code of ethics, setting the structure and identifying those who will help in realizing these goals as well as defining their responsibilities.

KMPG was established more than four decades ago. The Company made many achievements, but with several managerial and operational challenges. These challenges are hindering the company from achieving more goals. When analyzing the challenges for KMPG in relation to its assessment criteria and centres, we can look at them from two perspectives: the ones that are already being felt and the ones that are speculated to come.

Setting of Assessment Centre’s Mission, Vision and Goals

The first is the mission or purpose, which is a broad statement which describes why an organization is in existent. It is not often adjusted and may be the same throughout an organizations life; it is mostly the first statement in an organization’s outline. Statements or goals, this state what an organization wants to achieve and is defined from the overall mission of the organization (Weitzman and Kruse, 2000). Goals are the ends to which recruiters’ efforts are directed and will in most cases be a review after a certain period, like after a year. This though is dependent on the organization.

Stock and Brody 2005 assert that the objectives are descriptions of the actual actions expected; they are derived from the goals. They are very clear and will be broken into measurable tasks to be completed for the organization to achieve the goals. In setting goals, it is advisable that the management involves several people, as group decisions create positive results as people will offer utmost effort towards the realization of goals they have helped create (Stock and Brody, 2005). Goals set by a group derive greater motivation and commitment among various officers and members are clearer and easily understood as the rationale is collectively understood and finally people own up these goals as they are a result of consensus.

Poor customer service delivery and ineffective management of employee diversity result in poor performance of the firm. This can be as a result of improperly managed assessment centres. When this is realized in a firm or assessment centres, there is need to immediately adopt corrective measures in order to avert their negative effects.  And one of the corrective measures is training. This fact places the onerous task of discovering and ascertaining the nature of motivation among all employees on the shoulders of educators. Blander and Snell 2009 noted that employees require the constant reinforcement of their motivation to learn in order to guarantee satisfactory acquisition of knowledge (Blander and Snell, 2009).

Establishing Organization Philosophy

An organizations philosophy guides and influences decisions made in an organization, behaviour and attitudes of organization members. It is communicated throughout the organization and should be practiced and fulfilled by all organization members. According to Weisberg 2000, the philosophy provides consistency, cohesion and inspiration to the members and this way they are able to achieve set goals. Central to organization philosophy is its formulation and implementation (Weisberg, 2000). These two processes should include all members or at least selected representatives of the various groups or teams existent in the organization. This will ease the process of implementation as members feel it’s their product (Stock and Brody, 2005). It would also be easier for them to exhibit supposed effects as they had them in mind at the formulation stage. Management should take charge of the formulation process and ensure that all responses and contributions are included in the final draft of organizations philosophy. In some instances, it may be drafted or orally communicated to members to remove the official look which would elicit opposition.

According to Kannan 2002 Human resource management is an organization’s function that entails all aspects that are associated with the human resource or work force in a particular organization, company or institution (Wolverton, 2005). It entails aspects like recruitment, coordination and control of the people working in an organization. Some of the issues linked with human resource management include hiring, compensation and benefits, safety and welfare, communication and motivation, employees’ performance management and administration and training among others (Kannan and Akhilesh, 2002).

Recruitment and Selection

According to Wolverton 2005, the process of recruitment involves seeking new employees for an organization, with recruitment being the process of seeking and attracting qualified individuals to fill an organization’s vacant post. Recruitment process does not necessarily involve getting people outside the organization (external) but at times may also target employees already in the organization (internal) (Wolverton, 2005).

Weisberg 2000 says that each of the two methods of recruitment utilizes different methods to attract qualified individuals. Internal recruiters will make use of existent systems and records to advertise or gather information suitable candidates (Weisberg, 2000). External recruitment will take different forms due to the expansiveness of probable target; among these methods are advertising, university recruitment, referrals, head hunting, trade unions, international recruitment, executive leasing and use of management recruitment consultants.

Proper steps were taken, and policies governing the processes of planning, recruitment and selection and the general human resource management revised (Kannan and Akhilesh, 2002). This has improved the situation greatly, and there are very low rates of turnover as most employees are suitable for their jobs and they are put in good working conditions that foster job satisfaction. The impact of the above scenario has taught me a lot in regard to carrying out practices, both official as well as personal. There is a need for an individual to carry out activities having in mind the consequences of each action. Right procedures are crucial, and nothing should be taken for granted (Knight, 2009).

Selection

The processes of human resource planning, recruitment and selection are pivotal in an organization irrespective of its size. This is because they determine the quality of employees in the organization who in turn determine how processes are carried out. Human resource planning entails the logical approach that ensures the right people in an organization and enhances the smooth functioning and carrying out of processes (Williams and Bukowitz, 2001).

According to Langley 2000, the other crucial human resource management function is the selection process. Selection is the process of choosing persons who are best suited for a particular position, from a group of applicants. The key issue here entails matching a candidate with the job in question to achieve the best performance. There are various tools that are applied in the selection process for instance interviews and referrals (Langley, 2000). Selection process is very important as it ensures that the right candidates are deployed, in terms of qualifications and experience. This is achieved through matching of the attributes in the application documents and the practical ones.

The selection activities all the way from the initial screening interview to the final physical examination and practices are aimed at coming up with successful selection decisions. For the selection process to be effective, it ought to provide a perfect match between the organizational needs and candidates’ qualifications and interests. According to LeBlanc 2000, Effective selection ensures that there is quality performance of an employee right from the start. It also avoids too much expenditure for hiring through avoiding unnecessary processes. It additionally prevents an organization from legal implications (from incompetent and inappropriate hiring processes) that could be very costly and time consuming (LeBlanc, 2000).

Selection process involves making the decision on who among multiple applicants’ best fits the organization, this in regard to his qualifications and ability which are matched to the organization’s goals. A good employee should be able to offer his services which should be relevant to the existing organizational goals and objectives. There are several factors which can be used to make decisions on whether to hire or not to hire; these are experience, qualifications, and possession of special skills (Langley, 2000).

Resource Requirement

Accomplishing these tasks will not only require a dedication of time but will need ample financial resources to ensure that the processes sail smoothly. This is especially to do with all activities which involve a couple of people like setting of goals, code of ethics, and recruitment or what has been referred to as staffing. These financial requirements would differ from one organization to the other due to some inherent factors such as size and level of involvement (Leana and Buren, 2003). Therefore, by considering these factors, one should be in a suitable position to make a conclusive budget for all activities. This is in order to make sure all activities flow smoothly, and no hindrance due to inadequate funds for facilitation of these activities.

The Assessment Centre Process

Assessment centres utilizing assessors and multiple assessment techniques such as in-trays, group exercises, presentation and role plays etcetera is employed in non-educational employment sector for various reasons.

Assessment centres can be used in a variety of ways. For example, they are commonly employed for:

  1. a) Recruitment and selection
  2. b) For diagnosing individual training and development needs
  3. c) For career planning

For the organization, they can be used

  • For assessing potential for promotion and in succession planning;
  • For facilitating the institutional planning; and
  • For optimizing the talent in the organization by keeping good people motivated, they can also be used to present job holders with a clear picture of the organization’s commitments towards their development and can also serve as a useful public relations exercise for the organization in displaying its professional approach to recruitment and developing its staff.

There have been new learning and improvements in the field of human resource management. This has been in an effort to improve the situations in organizations. The management and other responsible personnel have understood the importance of the human resource or workforce in an organization in respect to the contribution they make (Thomson, 2000). In the past, employment and compensation philosophy focused mainly on wages or payments, but little considerations were given to the working conditions in which the employees worked, an aspect that is very important in enhancing performance and success of an organization. Employees were treated merely as equipments which would be replaced every now and then. Currently, the concept has changed, and employees ought to be treated in a more considerate to motivate them for better performance (Lepak and Snell, 2001). Attracting and retaining quality and appropriate employees has become a major challenge faced by businesses in today’s economy where competition increases every day. An organization’s rewarding and compensation policy is therefore, an important tool that should help it in attracting, motivating as well as retaining employees.

As well, an assessment centre is likely to be a rich source of development for an organization in

  • Team building
  • Developing skills necessary of future effectiveness; and
  • In helping to bring about a cultural transformation

Advantages of Assessment Centres

Since assessment centres are built on representative samples of materials and situations form, content validity is inherent within the process. As regard predictive validity, many studies indicate a strong positive relationship between assessment centre rating and the future job performance (Watson, 2006). By way of example, a study or promotion rates in the American telephone and Telegraph Company found that candidates who had been given assessment centre ratings of more than acceptable were twice likely to be promoted several times than people rated as acceptable’. Also, the former were nearly 10 times likely to be promoted than individuals rated as not acceptable’.

An additional advantage lies in the benefit to assessors of assessment centre training and participation. Serving as an assessor on an assessment centre and improving assessors’ own managerial skills (Tyson, 1997). Since the cost or errors in the selection for senior managerial positions tends to be extremely high, the cost-effectiveness of the assessment centres approach, a measure of its so called utility’ is also claimed to be important. Casio and Silbey state that a return on investment of at least 600 per cent and that it would not be unusual to achieve a return of high as 1000 per cent.

Difficulties

In espousing the use of assessment centres as the effective method presently available for measuring and assessing competence, it wise to be aware of pitfalls confronting the assessment centre process. Drawing to the process may be surmounted through careful assessment centre design and operation. Difficulties may arise with (Watson, 2006).

According to Truss 2001, Assessors and assessment centre dimensions are competencies: Hakel found out that assessors used only a small number of dimensions in making their judgments. As a matter of fact, evidence suggests that too many dimensions can impair the ability of an assessor to cope effectively (Truss, 2001). Three dimension (leadership, organizational planning, and decision making) accurately predicted overall ratings. There is also a tendency, by assessors, to rate performance on the exercise as a whole, rather than to evaluate performance on each single dimension or competency. The above would seem to point in no uncertain terms to the crucial nature of thorough, vigorous, and continuous training for assessors.

Construct validity: Drehen conclude that there is a little evidence that assessment centre ratings measure the complex traits they purport to measure. It is also claimed that certain soft’ qualities such as impact, creativity, sensitivity etcetera are difficult to measure assessment centres. Predictive validity in using promotions or ‘level achieved’ as the criterion many validity studies have suffered from criterion contamination (Stewart, 2001). On the other hand, Williams and Bukowitz, 2001 asserts that assessment ratings have been used as part of promotion decisions, and therefore, the observed correlation between centre ratings and management level achieved is artificially inflated. However, it is worth noting that some studies controlling for this eventually have found evidence supporting the predictive validity of assessment centres (Williams and Bukowitz, 2001).

Conclusion

The changes in perspective through which the employees are viewed are very advantageous and it has seen many organizations succeed in their operations. Empowerment of employees for instance allows for job satisfaction where they feel well represented, appreciated and valued. These acts as a form of motivation and employees are always willing to perform to their best for their own sake and that of the organization. This results in improved performance and overall success and productivity through maintenance of efficiency, effectiveness as well as the economy in the processes and practices of the organization (Roberts, 1997).

It is clear that human resource management is a very crucial function in an organization. The processes of human resource planning, recruitment and selection are very important as they determine the performance of an organization to a very large extent. The recognition that employees are the driving force towards success of an organization has also contributed positively in the process of human resource management.

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