Joint Agency Police Promotional Assessment Centers: An Opportunity for Interagency Cooperation

The current fiscal environment for many law enforcement agencies requires innovative change in practices and procedures.  While we may not be facing the stark challenges of retrenchment budgeting that were common in the 1980s, today many of us have insufficient budgets to achieve all that we seek to accomplish. A joint agency promotional assessment center may enable multiple agencies to realize the benefits of the assessment center at a substantial cost savings.

Background Brief

Human Resource Management costs are significant in public policing.  As a rule of thumb 70-90% of any law enforcement agency’s budget is committed to some aspect of Human Resource Management (HRM).  These costs have been predicted to grow in the future as a result of any number of factors.  But a common factor in any HRM cost equation is the identification, selection and retention of competent and capable supervisors and managers.

Across the nation, several law enforcement agencies have adopted the promotional assessment center as a defensible and fair tool in the selection of supervisors and managers.  However, as many readers know only too well – a functional promotional assessment is an expensive tool[i].   The costs present in any one of several forms – including the significant time commitment of both the candidates and assessors; the logistical support required for a successful center (video recording, appropriate exercise spaces, and scheduling trained actors) as well as the extensive and intensive planning required for a successful assessment center process. Continue reading

Police Promotional Assessment Centers Selection: Then What?

In small and medium sized law enforcement agencies, opportunities for promotion are periodic at best.  Often years will pass before another promotional opportunity is available.  It is in our professional best interest as leaders to prepare as many qualified individuals as possible for the next promotional opportunity.

In policing, a promotion is not only a personal and professional accomplishment, but a very public marker of a heathy organization.  Promotions are indicative of change and with change can come growth.  But there is risk in every promotional process.  We select those for promotion through any one of several promotion processes with the singular goal of identifying those best prepared to assume the role and responsibility of the next higher rank.

But a question that must be considered is – and then what? Routinely that individual selected for promotion begins an orientation and onboarding process for his/her new role in the organization.  But what about those who are labelled as the ‘not selected’?  What is to come for those men and women who are not promoted? Continue reading

Should I Provide Assessment Feedback?

The topic of my blog for this month deals with employers providing developmental feedback to candidates based upon the results of employment test or assessment.  Although the feedback of results from employment tests is common in many other countries, it is less frequently the case that such feedback is provided in the United States.

My topic this month deals with using assessment or test results in order to provide developmental feedback and suggestions to employees.  Although I will be dealing with feedback from tests in general, I will pay special attention to assessments that allow for a more in-depth, comprehensive view of the individuals, such as offered by the use of assessment centers.

[For more information on assessment centers, see Public Safety Assessment Center System (PSACS) and Assessment Center Educational Materials (ACEM)]

Some Findings from a Quick Literature Search

I had a graduate student perform a quick search of the current literature. Our findings regarding policies toward providing developmental feedback by employers in the United States were that it is rare for organizations to provide scores or give feedback to job applicants for pre-employment tests.  It is more common for promotional candidates, but even there the exact type of feedback may skew toward simply providing results or scores.  Providing expansive or detailed feedback is most likely to occur where the tests are used specifically for training or developmental purposes.

As for assessments centers, The International Congress on Assessment Center Methods has a document entitled The 2014 Guidelines and Ethical Considerations for Assessment Center Operations (6th Edition).  According to their guidelines, feedback should be provided and if the assesses are members of the organization than the employee has the right to “read any formal, summary, written reports concerning their own performance and recommendations that are prepared and made available to management.” Continue reading

Assessment Centers: The Beginnings and Beyond

Assessment centers were established by companies in the mid-20th century and the procedure has been expanding ever since. Assessment centers determine which employees exhibit the potential to earn promotions in managerial positions. This is accomplished through utilizing multiple assessment techniques that simulate realistic situations that candidates would face on the job for which they are being considered, and they are asked to handle these as if they were in the real situation. It goes without saying that there is no uniform way to design the content, administration, and cost of the process as these factors depend on the target group and its objectives.

When considering if a human resources department should utilize assessment centers, it is important to consider an assortment of factors. Let’s begin by briefly examining the history of this procedure. One of the first documented uses of assessment centers was in World War II when the United States was selecting spies to send to Europe.  The candidates were required to create a cover story and hide their identities while the interviewers attempted to break the candidates’ covers through situational tests. The next significant milestone in assessment centers occurred in 1956 when AT&T embarked on a longitudinal study to investigate which attributes of managers were correlated with success. Approximately ten years later the researchers noticed a significant trend in the data. Through the assessment intervention, the staff correctly identified 82 percent of the men who were promoted to middle-management positions. Likewise, the staff correctly identified 94 percent of the men who were not promoted. These predictions and many others made possible by the implementation of assessment centers led to their widespread usage that are still used today. Continue reading

Everything You Wanted to Know About Assessment Centers

The Assessment Center Educational Materials are a comprehensive guide to the complicated process of administering an assessment center in your organization. Whether you’re using an in-house assessment center system or one developed for you by an outside organization, the ACEM is an invaluable tool to make sure your administrators, assessors and candidates are informed, prepared and know what to expect during the process.

Starting immediately, the ACEM is also $50 less! We’ve lowered the price to $249 and you can order it online today. Continue reading