Using digital assessments in Management is a good thing – if it is done right.


Digital assessments are on the rise in many organizations. They help to create selfawareness and more objective plans for development. For Leaders a great tool in their leadership role.

I like to use assessments (be it digital or non-digital)as a very good start into my systemic development programs with organizations, teams or individuals. It´s good for an analysis what the clients state is. And a profound fundament for the dialogue with the client. The results of the assessment serve very well to make my clients think respective reflect about her state. Through the reflection we already start the program as it usually leads to awareness of strength and weaknesses, known or unknown to that day. From there we work out which topics have to be covered in our work together.

An additional aspect might be that often you can repeat the assessment after a while to see where things are going. Since we have several items covered you can see what is working well in terms of development and where possibly constraints exist. These constraints might be something interesting to elaborate further and to work on. (I’m thinking about the Theory of Constraints by Goldratt, Lepore)

The repetition serves as a kind of measurement, which I like. Not everybody in a team or organizational management is always 100% convinced about development programs. With some measurable results those doubts can be reduced or will vanish.

When we talk about assessments we have to be aware that diffferent assessments and purposes exist. I will reduce it here to cognitive tests vs. psychological tests. This became important in a couple of conversations recently. When I spoke with people from my network, partners or clients, we often came to a point of confusion. This confusion has been caused by a mix up of the two directions. “Based on the assessment we can sort out the people fitting good respective not fitting to our company/the job/…”

While this is more or less true because it´s up to the decision of the user, you should be aware of the different findings.

With the cognitive assessment you can test a person skills and abilities for specific demands in a job for instance. Testees with the best results you can hire, those with bad results are out (Eventhough a tough, highly stressful planned assessment may impact results of brillant people who are not stress resistant, so watch out what you are looking for, eg. Operations/service, where customer service and speed is important, vs. R&D, where calm but steady work might be favored).

It´s different with a personality test. It is more about a personality of a person, the value system, behaviour, aspirations and motivations. That´s nothing obvious and should be handled with more care. You can (and maybe should) think about a profile for a specific role, at first just to make yourself aware what you really want. A Salesperson likely needs a different profile in social behavior than an accountant for instance, a leader a different profile from an operator.

I would recommend to use this as foundation for a dialog with the testee and make further decisions in the hiring or placement process from there.

If you conduct a personality test in an existing team it can be very helpful in some perspectives. It´s a powerful tool to start a developing journey. Very important is that the results show more or less tendencies of behavior or attitude in specific circumstances or situations. For instance you cannot say to a testee “You are this kind of person!”. But you can ask a testee “What do you think about your results?” This simple, open question offers several possibilities for the superior Leader, who should conduct this conversation with his subordinate/team-member as part of his Leader-Function. The reaction of the testee will show the tendency how reflective the testee is about herself, how open and trustful the relationship between superior and subordinate, what opportunities to grow the Testee sees for herself, how self-perception and result differ from another, how the perception of the superior differ from the result and more. Used in this way an assessment is a very powerful tool for real Leadership. The conversation between the two parties has the power to create motivation because it shows care and willingness to invest by the company/superior and offers the chance for personal growth for the subordinate/team member/colleague.

Promotion should be based on Assessment, digital and personal. The easy part is when somebody gets promoted. The difficult part for a leader is to tell somebody “You are not ready yet”. I experienced many leaders who hvea this difficulty because they fear the loss of a good expert. Based on the results of the assessment the negative tone often can be turned into positive, by talking about further development, the support by the leader and the company and a possible perspective. This is where a good feedback happens. Leaders should be able to give a good feedback.

In times of scarcity of talents is worth to invest the time in as many of those conversation as possible. This is where Leadership unfolds its dynamics. It´s based on a neutral tool which takes away all possibly existing subjective judgements and vague interpretations. In that way Leaders can add a lot of value to the organization by developing their talents right. And each team member who grows makes your team growing. Your team grows, your business will grow. That´s an important part of Leadership.


· Be aware what you look for

· Choose the right tool for assessment

· Use assessment results for your leadership

· Assessment results are objective and take away any subjective coloring

· Excellent basis for a development conversation

· Even if the leaders message is “You´re not ready yet” feedback can become positive because it´s future-orientated

I look forward to my upcoming workshops with Leaders to facilitate this part of their Leadership Journey!

If you want to know more I am happy to get in contact with you.

Axel Kuhlmann

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