Evaluation and Enablement—Assessing to Encourage Learning
Marta joined your team this January. She is an Ivy League alumnus and you were proud of finding her and getting her into your team. She is brilliant, energetic and someone who brings in a lot of innovative ideas. While you’re basking in your glory, a few months pass and one fine day, she comes to the office and puts down her papers.
What would you think?
The first thought would be, you’d now have to invite fresh applications, interview shortlisted candidates, hire, onboard and again just hope that he or she stays this time.
Well, after a lot of exhaustive – ‘and pointless’ (you say to yourself) – efforts, you hire Mark. He is also an Ivy Leaguer. You onboard him and he starts working on his projects. You hold your breath and clutch your rosary. A few months pass by and Mark is still around. You begin to breathe easy.
Yes, Mark stays on, but he is no patch on Marta. He bungles up project after project and you seriously begin to wish if he would leave on his own so that you don’t have to fire him!
Now what would you do?
Another round of applications, shortlisting, training them again, and then asking them to leave?
Many surveys show that employees leave within the first 45 days of being hired, that is, during their “honeymoon period”. So, there’s something with the onboarding that needs fixing.
Remember this: unless your employees know what they’re getting into, they won’t stick with it for long. While we understand how vital it is to onboard them, it’s equally essential to assess them at regular intervals to keep them upbeat and help them improve their performance.
The question, however, is how to assess the employees right from the onboarding stage so that it fosters continuous learning in them? Something that gets them excited enough so that they stay on. Just how onboarding framework may differ at an organizational level or a designation level, so do your assessments and eventually, evaluation criteria.
Here are some quick rhymes for you to memorize and bring to action:
One: Make evaluation fun!
One thing we neglect when we design onboarding programs, is adding some fun element to it. Your organization might be into some really exciting and innovative business, but your onboarding could lack all connections to fun and engagement. Why is that? Because we don’t put much thought into designing our onboarding curriculum to make it interesting. Your onboarding decides the future of your employee retention rate. Realizing this, organizations have begun to make their onboarding training fun and easy for the employees. Though we have acknowledged the need for building engaging and effective onboarding programs, we haven’t yet given any thought towards evaluating the employees in a fun way. We fear that they might not stay if we start testing them right from the start. As a result, our recruits end up being frustrated and often dread the evaluation. Make it fun. Instill a sense of joy in the process. Reassure them that it is not the process of you holding them in the scale. It’s the process of identifying their needs and helping them match that.
And make it like a game; keep increasing the level for each evaluation. Make it an ongoing exercise where you continually raise the difficulty level with each step.
For instance, follow the traditional method of Anchored Instruction and spiraling: you teach a concept to a learner, assess her on that, and then move to the next level. In case she is not able to pass the assessment, she has to learn the concept again unless she passes the assessment. Video Games understood the power of this and they follow this pattern to challenge you to keep playing one level unless you master and be ready for the next level. So, what’s stopping you from letting your learners make mistakes and learning from them?
Two: Measure what you value!
Author Andrew Hargreaves has the best advice for you on creating assessments.
Often when we assess performance, we judge them by the standards we set for ourselves. What we must think about, while assessing them during their onboarding phase, is that – whether you like it or not – they don’t know about the company’s rules and regulations yet; they don’t know about the guidelines and restrictions that your client has imposed upon you. Hence, their ideas and solutions may not match the requirements. It all depends on what your organization values as important ethical or corporate behaviors on its employees. Whether you value innovation over productivity or vice versa, you need to assess them on those standards and not because you THINK productivity is important. One way to do this is to reinforce your organization’s vision and mission. If there’s a shared vision by which the employee in an organization functions, she is more likely to put her heart and soul into the work. Consider it like any other training. What is the first thing that you do before you begin a training? You inform the learners of the objectives. What do you do at the end of the training? You provide them with an assessment that tests how much have they grasped according to the objectives of the training. For your onboarding training too, consider your shared vision as the objective you want your learners to achieve, and evaluate them according to that. After all, that’s the rule of assessments: you don’t assess what you don’t teach.
Three: Set them on a competitive spree!
The new age training programs have understood the importance of gamification and are already adding it to their curriculum to motivate and engage the learners. For onboarding programs too, we can add such fun elements that instill a healthy competition among the group. Say, you can form groups and give them an organization-wide problem to solve. Each group will come up with their solution. You can reward the one with the best solution, if there happens to be any. For online onboarding, you can create leaderboards where a learner can challenge the top performer while taking an assessment. If you instill competition on assessment, they will feel charged up to give their best. Extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards, appreciations, or even a pat on the back can work wonders for them.
Four: Let them ask for more!
We spoke about extrinsic motivation where you appreciate and reward the employees for their good work. But, what about times when there are no physical rewards? Intrinsic motivation provides them with the energy to work and give their best. Since onboarding holds the reins of the employee attrition rate, it’s important to start taking it seriously and create programs that not only ask the learners or employees to learn, but also enable them to think about the ways in which their work can become fun. If your training is conducted in a fun way, it will be easier for you to assess your employees in an equally engaging way. They will not feel that they are being evaluated, rather, they’ll consider it as a means of problem-solving, where their creative forces come to action.
To sum up, hiring someone is not even half the battle. In fact, it’s the beginning of the battle. Well, scratch that. Battle is a dated and violent metaphor. Consider it a journey. For a better example, consider it as giving birth to a baby. Once you have a smooth labor, you don’t rest on your laurels thinking ‘now that you’ve brought a human into this world,’ your work is completed. Your work has actually begun.
Recruiting someone into the organization is quite similar to that. Your work actually begins there. Finders are often not the keepers. Finders, trainers, motivators and assessors are indeed the keepers together.