Assessment Centers Selection Based on Simulation

William C. Byham


"Hundreds of organizations are using simulations such as in-baskets, management games, leaderless group discussions and other unique exercises in determining management potential. The process is called an assessment center. More than thirty research studies indicate that assessment centers are superior to any other technique in identifying management potential. Participation in centers is also a powerful management training experience for both the participants and their higher management assessors. Not a place, but a method, which is available to all sizes of organizations, assessment centers are being used at all levels of management from first level of supervision to top corporate management. Organizations using centers may be found in every major industry and in government, in almost all the industrialized nations of the world. In a typical center, twelve first-level manager participants are nominated by their immediate supervisors as having potential for middle- level management positions based on their current job performance. For two days, participants take part in exercises developed to expose behaviors deemed important in the particular organization. A participant may play a business game, complete an in-basket exercise, participate in two group discussions, participate in a role playing exercise, and be interviewed. Six line managers, two levels above the participants acting as assessors, observe the participants’ behavior and take notes on special observation forms. After the two days of exercises, participants go back to their jobs and the assessors spend two more days comparing their observations and making a final evaluation of each participant. A summary report is developed on each participant, outlining his or her potential and defining development action appropriate for both the organization and the individual."

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