New White Paper Examines how to Assess for Situational Judgment

Is exercising judgment a critical factor in the competence of the employees and contractors who service your organization? If the answer to this is yes, as it most likely is, you may be interested in Questionmark’s white paper, just published this week on “Assessing for Situational Judgment”.

It’s not just CEOs who need to exercise judgment and make decisions, almost every job requires an element of judgment. Situational Judgment Assessments (SJAs) present a dilemma to the participant and ask them to choose options in response.


Context is defined -> There is a dilemma that needs judgment -> The participant chooses from options -> A score or evaluation is made

Here is an example: 

You work as part of a technical support team that produces work internally for an organization. You have noticed that often work is not performed correctly or a step has been omitted from a procedure. You are aware that some individuals are more at fault than others as they do not make the effort to produce high quality results and they work in a disorganized way. What do you see as the most effective and the least effective responses to this situation?
A.  Explain to your team why these procedures are important and what the consequences are of not performing these correctly.
B.  Try to arrange for your team to observe another team in the organisation who produce high quality work.
C.  Check your own work and that of everyone else in the team to make sure any errors are found.
D.  Suggest that the team tries many different ways to approach their work to see if they can find a method where fewer mistakes are made.

In this example, option C deals with errors but is time consuming and doesn’t address the behavior of team members. Option B is also reasonable but doesn’t deal with the issue immediately and may not address the team’s disorganized approach. Option D is asking a disorganized team to engage in a set of experiments that could increase rather than reduce errors in the work produced. This is likely to be the least effective of the options presented. Option A does require some confidence in dealing with potential pushback from the other team members, but is most likely to have a positive effect.

You can see some more SJA examples at http://www.questionmark.com/go/example-sja.

SJA items assess judgment and variations can be used in pre-hire, post-hire training, for compliance and for certification. SJAs offer assessment programs the opportunity to move beyond assessments of what people know (knowledge of what) to assessments of how that knowledge will be applied in the workplace (knowledge of how).

Questionmark’s white paper is written as a collaboration by Eugene Burke, well known advisor on talent, assessment and analytics and myself. The white paper is aimed at:

  • Psychometricians, testing professionals, work psychologists and consultants who currently create SJAs for workplace use (pre-hire or post-hire) and want to consider using Questionmark technology for such use
  • Trainers, recruiters and compliance managers in corporations and government looking to use SJAs to evaluate personnel
  • High-tech or similar certification organizations looking to add SJAs to increase the performance realism and validity of their exam

The 40 page white paper includes sections on:

  • Why consider assessing for situational judgment
  • What is an SJA?
  • Pre-hire and helping employers and job applicants make better decisions
  • Post-hire and using SJAs in workforce training and development
  • SJAs in certification programs
  • SJAs in support of compliance programs
  • Constructing SJAs
  • Pitfalls to avoid
  • Leveraging technology to maximize the value of SJAs

Situational Judgment Assessments are an effective means of measuring judgment and the white paper provides a rationale and blueprint to make it happen. The white paper is available free (with registration) from https://www.questionmark.com/sja-whitepaper.

I will also be presenting a session about SJAs in March at the Questionmark Conference 2018 in Savannah, Georgia – visit the conference website for more details.

Why Digital Badges are Win-Win-Win

Digital badges are a validated, electronic measure of achievement that are starting to be very widely used in the workplace, in education and in certification. This article explains some of the reasons why they are genuinely a win for all involved.

Picture of a badge with the Questionmark logo on it saying "Data Security Proficient"

A little while ago, achievements were recognized with a paper certificate, which you could frame and put on your office wall. But with digital printing, paper certificates have become easy to forge, and with the Internet, a lot of offices are virtual. So nowadays recognition of achievement is often with a digital certificate or badge. Digital badges use a picture (like the one on the right) to summarize what the badge is and are backed up with detailed information that can be verified online. Many people put badges on their LinkedIn or other social media accounts.

Digital badges can be used for many purposes including:

  • Giving a certificate on passing a test or exam
  • Showing completion of a course
  • Recognize other accomplishments, major and minor
  • Help signpost pathways to learning with each step a badge

With Questionmark Badging, you can award digital badges when someone passes an assessment.

A key human need is to achieve goals and for others to value our achievements, and digital badges provide a mechanism to help satisfy these needs.

Three circles showing Society, Organizations and IndividualsDigital badges can be win-win-win for society, organizations and individuals.

Society

As technology changes and the world becomes more global, skill shortages are a significant issue to the global economy. According to the OECD, “in most countries, large shares of employers complain that they cannot find workers with the skills that their businesses require”.

Digital badges help reduce skill shortages by encouraging and documenting the acquisition of important skills and by recognizing competencies at a distance. They allow a society to increase citizen contributions and help mobility of skills which drives economic value.

Organizations

The most tangible benefit for digital badges is to the organizations who issue them. Digital badges provide a great opportunity for companies, universities and colleges and certification providers.

  • In the workplace, employers can issue badges to provide recognition of e-learning or instructor led training and to show achievement of important competencies. Badges motivate employees to develop current skills which make a business difference to the employer, and they recognize employees for achievement. For many employees, being recognized for an achievement is as important as a pay rise or other more tangible benefit.
  • Universities and colleges can issue badges to students to show the module make-up in their courses, to encourage or showcase extra achievement or for short courses outside the usual curriculum.
  • Certification providers can give candidates a shareable badge, which encourages them to engage with the provider and promotes the certification brand. Digital badges also allow micro-credentials and delta credentials to deal with fast moving technology.

Individuals

Lastly, for individuals, digital badges help develop skills and careers. Digital badges let individuals showcase their achievements, grow self-esteem with a sense of accomplishment and obtain recognition for what they do as employee and/or as citizen.

 

Digital badges make sense for society, for organizations and for individuals. The improved competence and communication about competence they encourage improves society. Organizations gain skills and a new currency to reward their workforce. And badge earners gain recognition and a sense of achievement. It is important that badge issuers set up a good process to ensure their badges are credible and sustainable measures of achievement, but if this is done, badges are truly win-win-win.

If you are interested in learning more about digital badges, you can see information on Questionmark’s solution here.

Can you be GDPR compliant without testing your employees?

Posted by John Kleeman

The GDPR is a new extra-territorial, data protection law which imposes obligations on anyone who processes personal data on European residents. It impacts companies with employees in Europe, awarding bodies and test publishers who test candidates in Europe, universities and colleges with students in Europe and many others. Many North American and other non-European organizations will need to comply.

See my earlier post How to use assessments for GDPR compliance for an introduction to GDPR. The question this blog post addresses is whether it’s practical for a large organization to be compliant with the GDPR without giving tests and assessments to their employees?

I’d argue that for most organizations with 100s or 1000s of employees, you will need to test your employees on your policies and procedures for data protection and the GDPR. Putting it simply, if you don’t and your people make mistakes, fines are likely to be higher.

Here are four things the GDPR law says (I’ve paraphrased the language and linked to the full text for those interested):


1. Organizations must take steps to ensure that everyone who works for them only processes personal data based on proper instructions. (Article 32.4)

2. Organizations must conduct awareness-raising and training of staff who process personal data (Article 39.1). This is extended to include “monitoring training” for some organizations in Article 47.2.

3. Organizations must put in place risk-based security measures to ensure confidentiality and integrity and must regularly test, assess and evaluate the effectiveness of these measures. (Article 32.1)

4. If you don’t follow the rules, you could be fined up to 20 million Euros or 4% of turnover. How well you’ve implemented the measures in article 32 (i.e. including those above) will impact how big these fines might be. (Article 83.2d)


So let’s join up the dots.

Firstly, a large company has to ensure that everyone who works for it only processes data based on proper instructions. Since the nature of personal data, processing and instructions each have particular meanings, this needs training to help people understand. You could just train and not test, but given that the concepts are not simple, it would seem sensible to test or otherwise check their understanding.

A company is required to train its employees under Article 39. But the requirement in Article 32 is for most companies stronger. For most large organizations the risk of employees making mistakes and the risk of insider threat to confidentiality and integrity is considerable. So you have to put in place training and other security measures to reduce this risk. Given that you have to regularly assess and evaluate the effectiveness of these measures, it seems hard to envisage an efficient way of doing this without testing your personnel. Delivering regular online tests or quizzes to your employees is the obvious way to check that training has been effective and your people know, understand and can apply your processes and procedures.

Lastly, imagine your company makes a mistake and one of your employees causes a breach of personal data or commits another infraction under the GDPR? How are you going to show that you took all the steps you could to minimize the risk? An obvious question is whether you did your best to train that employee in good practice and in your processes and procedures? If you didn’t train, it’s hard to argue that you took the proper steps to be compliant. But even if you trained, a regulator will ask you how you are evaluating the effectiveness of your training. As a regulator in another context has stated:

“”where staff understanding has not been tested, it is hard for firms to judge how well the relevant training has been absorbed”

So yes, you can imagine a way in which a large company might manage to be compliant with the GDPR without testing employees. There are other ways of checking understanding, for example 1:1 interviews, but they are very time consuming and hard to roll out in time for May 2018. Or you may be lucky and have personnel who don’t make mistakes! But for most of us, testing our employees on knowledge of our processes and procedures under the GDPR will be wise.

Questionmark OnDemand is a trustable, easy to use and easy to deploy system for creating and delivering compliance tests and assessments to your personnel. For more information on using assessments to help ensure GDPR compliance visit this page of our website or register for our upcoming webinar on 29 June.

Reminiscing about Santa Fe: Presentations, pictures & the weird and wonderful art house

Posted by Chloe Mendonca

After eagerly looking forward to Questionmark’s most important annual learning event for months, it was over before we even knew it! The Questionmark Conference gave all of us three special days to meet so many of our globally dispersed customers and employees face to face, learn best practices, have fun with one another and discuss new ways to leverage Questionmark’s technologies.

This year I was fortunate enough to be there, and a big highlight was getting a deeper understanding of how others are using Questionmark’s technologies. From our evening networking events to our stimulating panel discussion — which brought together experts from the US State Department, Caterpillar Inc., Scantron and Compass Consultants to discuss best practices for making data work within learning and assessment programs — to more specific breakout sessions, our guest speakers did a wonderful job of sharing lessons learned and best-practice tips.

Todd Horner from Accenture, for example, hosted a great discussion, “Taking the Migraine out of Migration: Accenture’s journey to next-gen authoring.” He spoke about the shared “fear of the unknown” and how to get around change-management challenges. Lauri Buckley and Lindsey Clayton from Caterpillar Inc, delivered an impressive presentation, “A Process to Mastery: Assessments as career development tools,” during which they shared valuable tips about how to effectively design and develop various types of competence assessments, from proficiency tests to validation and observational assessments. You can get the handouts from these presentations and more right here.

For those who couldn’t be there in person, we webcast selected conference sessions — hitting record numbers online. If you joined us for the webcast, got a sense of the Questionmark Conference atmosphere and want to join us in person next year, keep your eyes peeled for our dates and location announcement coming to the blog in the next few months. See the recordings of our selected webcast sessions at: www.questionmark.com/go/2017uconwebcast (Please note you must be logged into the website with your Questionmark username and password).

I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of our wonderful speakers for taking the time to share their knowledge. Without them there would be no conference!

Now for the bit you’ve all been waiting for… conference pictures! To all those who went back to the office struggling to describe the weird and wonderful art house that is Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, hopefully these snaps will make things a little easier 😊  View conference and evening event pictures here on our flickr page.

What did you enjoy most about Questionmark Conference 2017? Leave me a comment below and stay in touch!


Just in case you missed it…

John Kleeman, Questionmark’s Founder & Executive Director reported back 6 good practice tips heard in Santa Fe.

7 ways assessments can save you money and protect your reputation [Compliance webinar]

Julie ProfilePosted by Julie Delazyn

Last week, illegal banking practices cost Wells Fargo, one of America’s largest banks, $185 million in fines. Regulators have called the scandal “outrageous” and stated that the widespread nature of the illegal behavior shows the bank lacked the necessary controls and oversight of its employees.

Educating and monitoring employee understanding of proper practices is vital for regulatory compliance.  How do you ensure your workers are compliant with the rules and regulations in your industry? How do you prove that employee training is understood?

Register today for the FREE webinar: 7 Ways Assessments Fortify Compliance

The webinar will examine real-world examples of how assessments are used to strengthen compliance programs. It will also provide tips for developing valid, reliable assessments.

Predicting Success at Entel Begins with Trustworthy Assessment Results [Case Study]

Julie ProfilePosted by Julie Delazyn

Entel is one of Chile’s largest telecommunications firms, serving both the consumer and commercial sectors. With more than 12,000 employees across its extended Entelenterprise, Entel provides a broad range of mobile and fixed communications services, IT and call center outsourcing and network infrastructure services.

The Challenge

Success in the highly competitive mobile and telecommunications market takes more than world-class infrastructure, great connectivity, an established dealer network and extensive range of retail location. Achieving optimal on-the-job performance yields a competitive edge in the form of satisfied customers, increased revenues and lower costs. Yet actually accomplishing this objective is no small feat – especially for an industry job role notorious for high turnover rates.

With these challenges in mind, Entel embarked on an innovative new strategy to enhance the predictability of the hiring, onboarding, training and developing practices for its nationwide team of 6,000+ retail store and call center representatives.

Certification as a Predictive Metric

Entel conducted an exhaustive analysis – a “big data” initiative that mapped correlations between dozens of disparate data points mined from various business systems, HR systems as well as assessment results – to develop a comprehensive model of the factors contributing to employee performance.

Working with Questionmark OnDemand enabled Entel to create the valid and reliable tests and exams necessary to measure and document representatives’ knowledge, skills and abilities.

Find out more about Entel’s program planning and development, which helped identify and set benchmarks for required knowledge and skills, optimal behaviors and performance metrics, its use of SAP SuccessFactors to manage and monitor performance against many of the key behavioral aspects of the program, as well as the growing role their trustworthy assessment results are having on future product launches and the business as a whole.

Click here to read the full case study.

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