Preparing for a Management Assessment Center

Organizations use management assessment at key times in an individual’s personal development. These include:

• Selecting graduates for management.
• Developing a group of supervisors into managers.
• Seeking executive or board members.

As a manager, you will be expected take part in management assessments as part of your organization’s development program or when you are seeking a new role or a promotion.

Management AssessmentDuring this type of assessment you will need to demonstrate that your competencies

are appropriate for the role. This is achieved by performing a variety of exercises that are designed to assess your practical ability and to show that you operate at the appropriate level for each of the required role competencies.

Management assessments differ from interviews in that you need to ‘show’ as well as ‘tell’ those evaluating you that you have these competencies. Most organizations use an ‘assessment center’ or ‘development center’ to conduct these exercises. A management assessment center is an event rather than a place. It usually takes place over a full day at an external location. For simplicity, the term ‘assessment center’ will be used as it is synonymous with the term ‘development center.’

This can be defined as:
‘A method for assessing aptitude and performance; applied to a group of participants by trained assessors using various aptitude diagnostic processes in order to obtain information about applicants’ abilities or development potential.’

Management assessments often take place at an external location that offers several rooms suitable for these exercises, which include: in-tray exercises, role play, group exercises, and presentation exercises. This enables the assessors, who are responsible for evaluating the group, the opportunity to properly observe each candidate demonstrate their behavior in one or more of the role’s required competencies.

These events are usually a full day in duration and you will receive an agenda detailing how it is going to be structured. It is important that you use this and any other documents related to the role and organization as part of your preparation.

Each management assessment is unique because it is dependent on the culture and ethos of the organization as well as the specific requirements of the role for which candidates are being assessed. Successful organizations do all they can to ensure that their development efforts are invested in those individuals who are most likely to succeed and most closely match the culture.

Organizations that use assessment centers will have built up a ‘competency framework’ that they use to assess their existing employees as well as new recruits. This framework defines which competencies are required for each role and how these alter depending on the management level and responsibilities of the role.
competency framework

Each organization will also have its ‘core’ competencies that every individual must have in addition to their role competencies. For each competency in the framework there is a detailed explanation of the behaviors that are need to perform the role efficiently and effectively.

Each area of management has its own terminology and acronyms and management assessment is no exception. The following table will help you to become familiar with the terms commonly used in management assessment.

Management Assessment Definitions
Management assessment is concerned with identifying which individuals are able to demonstrate the required competencies at the appropriate level for the role. Competency development is a career-long process and is part of your overall professional and personal development. If you would like to know more about how to develop your own competencies or those of people in your team then you can download our free ‘Developing Competencies’ eBook.

It is important to be clear about the difference between competencies and goals. Competencies have to do with ‘how you perform or behave’ when doing something. In contrast, goals are related to ‘what you actually achieve’ and are not concerned with how you got there.

If your management assessment is part of an organizational development program you will notice five key differences between this and one designed as part of the recruitment process:

  • You will be actively involved in your own assessment.
  • You will be asked to assess and feed back to other members of the group on their display of competencies.
  • You will receive detailed feedback on their performance and how this affects their future development.
  • You will be responsible for managing your own Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
  • Those observing the exercises act as facilitators rather than assessors when judging your competencies.

The level of success you can achieve when participating in a management assessment has a strong correlation with the amount of time and effort that you put into your preparation. This will enable you to attend the management assessment with the right mindset and a clear picture of what is required.

Key Points

  • A management assessment center is an event rather than a place. It usually takes place over a full day at an external location.
  • Organizations use them when selecting graduates for management, developing supervisors into managers, and promoting line-mangers to executive positions.
  • Assessors observe each candidate and identify which individuals are able to demonstrate the required competencies at the appropriate level for the role.
  • Knowing how an assessment center is organized and what the assessors are looking for will help you succeed.

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