One of the most complex functions in public personnel administration is designing and administering valid and defensible promotion procedures. GACP conducts assessment center-based promotional testing for all ranks in law enforcement agencies. Assessment center promotional services include:
•Job task analysis of promotable positions
•Review of job description in light of job task analysis and recommendations, if needed, regarding job descriptions.
•Development of job related exercises unique to the individual law enforcement agency;
•Administration of assessment centers.
WHAT IS AN ASSESSMENT CENTER?
An assessment center is a process of gathering relevant information, under standardized conditions, about an individual’ s capabilities to perform a managerial job. In essence, an assessment center puts candidates through a series of group and individual exercises designed to simulate the conditions of a given job and determines if they have the skills and abilities necessary to perform that job. It does this by bringing out the candidate’s behavior relevant to the job, while it is being observed by a group of assessors. In addition, the assessors judging a candidate’s behavior see all individuals from a common frame of reference in the various assessment activities. These procedures help to insure that the judgments made are relatively free of the many forms of rater bias, are reliable, and can serve as the basis for meaningful predictions of a candidate’s potential as a manager.
Additional benefits of an assessment center include:
1. Assessment centers measure job-related behaviors rather than other characteristics that are not directly related to effective job performance.
2. Assessment centers measure a broader range of skills than do more traditional methods, such as written tests.
3. Assessment centers are standardized because testing conditions are similar for all candidates. This standardization insures that no candidate receives better or worse treatment than another.
4. Assessment centers are fair to minorities and women. Unlike some testing programs, research has suggested that a candidate’s race or sex has no influence on the assessment ratings received.
5. Assessment centers have been found to be well-accepted and seen as a fair promotional method by most candidates.
6. Assessment centers serve as a learning experience for assessors as well as for candidates. Assessors benefit from their training and experience as assessors, which can be seen as a management training tool that helps them improve their observational skills and ability to accurately evaluate performance. Candidates benefit from the experience they receive by going through the center. Their strong areas and areas in need of improvement are identified and may be discussed with them.
7. Assessment center ratings tend to be much more accurate than conventional ratings because the assessment center provides an opportunity for direct observation of behavior in a controlled setting by trained raters.
In summary, an assessment center consists of a standardized evaluation of behavior based on multiple exercises/techniques, multiple observations, and evaluations made by multiple trained raters or assessors. Judgments about behavior are made from specially developed assessment simulations. These Judgments are later pooled by the assessors at an evaluation meeting during which all relevant assessment data is reported and discussed. Also at this meeting the assessors agree on an evaluation for each dimension across exercises and any overall evaluation of the candidate that is made.
WHY USE AN ASSESSMENT CENTER?
More and more organizations are utilizing assessment centers because:
1. Research has found that assessment centers can more accurately predict successful performance as supervisors and managers than alternate methods.
2. Participation in assessment centers, either as assessors or assessees is a very valuable career development experience.
3. Managers accept the results of an assessment center due to its rational, organized approach and the way the assessment exercises simulate supervisory and management challenges within the organization.
4. Participants accept the results of assessment centers because of their “face validity” and the fair manner in which each one is given the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.
5. Assessment centers have been shown to be equally fair and accurate in the prediction of supervisory and management potential for EEO “protected” Group members.
6. Employers have successfully defended the use of assessment centers in a number of district court challenges. In fact, assessment centers have been mandated as part of a number of consent decrees in order to overcome the effects of past discriminatory practices.
7. Assessment centers can be used to aid in analyzing the abilities of supervisory/management personnel for the specific purpose of pinpointing areas of strengths and weaknesses. Once these areas have been identified, this information can be used in making individualized and organizational wide recommendations for specialized training.
8. Assessment centers concentrate on the evaluation of observed behavior and managers who serve as assessors often report an increased ability to assess the performance of their own subordinates and peers.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Applicants will participate in three (3) or (4) job related exercises. The exercises are simulations of duties and situations that an incumbent supervisor may face with their law enforcement agency. The exercises are designed so that the applicants can demonstrate appropriate job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Each of the exercises will permit the evaluation of multiple job behaviors or dimensions that are deemed necessary for a person to be a successful supervisor.
A minimum of three (3) trained and experienced assessors will observe each applicant’s performance on the exercise and rate the applicant according to predetermined rating criteria. The assessors will be from out of town with equal rank or one rank above the applicable position. After the exercise is concluded the assessors will confer and reach a consensus on each dimension evaluated and then develop an overall score for each applicant.
Throughout the entire process applicants will be identified by numbers instead of names. At the conclusion of the assessment center the assessment team will furnish the Personnel Department a rating score for each applicant who will be identified by a number only.
The selection of the best person to fill your department vacancy will ultimately reduce liability.
Personnel errors may cost your agency thousands of dollars.
Invest up front in the best person(s).
Please contact Executive Director Frank V. Rotondo to discuss options on how we can assist in the improvement of your department and/or your hiring endeavors.
Frank V. Rotondo, GACP Executive Director