Boards at banks that are looking to position themselves for long-term success should consider leveraging a more robust executive assessment process for their senior leadership. This process can provide directors with a well-rounded picture of where their institution is now, along with specific insights to develop leaders, drive results and set up the bank for future succession for key roles.
There are three reasons that banks should consider an assessment tool and coaching with your management team. Many organizations use basic assessment tools when hiring leaders; rarely do organizations implement a more holistic executive development process that leverages the insights an assessment tool provides. But now, more organizations are experiencing the value of pairing an assessment with a leadership development plan that includes third-party coaching. Employing best practices gives top-performing organizations a dynamic executive development model to drive the following outcomes:
1. Succession planning: A strong succession plan identifies key competencies for the banks and the necessary skills for business continuity. The plan allows for focused development that meets the bank’s future business needs. A starting assessment makes development easier. Good assessments will consider an individual’s skills, personality, influence, communication and leadership abilities, plus a development plan that often includes coaching.
2. Retention: Assessments can increase engagement by creating a vision for advancement if they’re used correctly. Leaders who stagnate in a job tend to be more likely to leave. A well-rounded assessment tool can help a board uncover growth opportunities for the team and reveal untapped skills that are useful to the organization.
3. Dynamic leadership: Being your best every day is hard when you do it alone. Performers at every level can use a coach to bring out their best. An initial assessment that provides insight into the individual and team dynamics can fast forward an organization’s financial performance and set up the bank to outperform in the industry.
Assessments at all levels of the bank lead to higher engagement and retention. They can highlight tensions early, so executives and the board can proactively solve them rather than use reactive temporary fixes. But the power of assessment comes from choosing the right tool.
Top Two Mistakes
1. Assessment to check the box: Too many banks use an assessment to produce a label or outline a gap. They present these results to the team without a development plan to close the gaps, and many are left feeling underappreciated and frustrated. In these cases, assessments damage the culture. Good assessments produce data that allows boards to create a plan and take action. A great assessment does this — and then increases the readiness of participants to engage in next steps.
2. Off the shelf tool with no qualitative research component: Have you ever taken an assessment and felt constricted or limited by the way the question was asked? “Are you most like this or less like that”? You want to answer “Yes,” but that isn’t a choice. No employee likes an assessment that is difficult to complete. But at the same time, bank management teams need the quantitative data that is easy to build the big picture. The best assessment tools will combine this quantitative data with qualitative research.
When looking for an assessment tool, consider these components:
• Online assessment: A user-friendly online tool can quickly capture personality insights, team dynamics and leadership strengths. Boards should look for a tool that produces insights into both individual strengths and gaps, as well as team communication.
• Qualitative research: When using an assessment vendor, be sure to get a sense of their industry knowledge and experience with interviews for assessment.
• Your tools: Rounding out a powerful assessment is the incorporation of tools your bank has already used — anything from performance reviews to grit studies. The final assessment presentation can include data that the bank has previously gathered.