It wasn’t designed specifically for technology managers, but a Toronto search firm says RBA could be a great way to determine who has the sought-after “soft skills.” Move over, Myers-Briggs

Role-based assessment of IT execs comes to Canada

Canadian CIOs and IT managers may soon find getting their next job involves taking an online assessment that studies their behaviours and tells employers whether they’re the best fit for the role.

Toronto-based search firm TeamQuest Systems said it has become a certified provider of Role-Based Assessment, which evaluates prospective hires based on three areas. These include coherence, or the ability to work with others to achieve common goals, the role or organizational need to which they show the closest affinity, and other teaming characteristics that show how they will perform in certain situations.

First developed by Dr. Janice Presser as a paper-based tool in 1999, Role-Based Assessment (RBA) is offered through Philadelphia-based The Gabriel Institute. Unlike Myers-Briggs or other popular psychological assessments, RBA doesn’t spit out a score. Instead, employers are given a two to three-page report that companies then need to discuss with a search firm like TeamQuest to see how well a given candidate will meet their expectations.

TeamQuest Systems CEO Marci Schnapp-Rafael said RBA would be ideal for pre-screening technology managers by companies because it forces them to think carefully about the results of the assessment, rather than choosing based on a number.

“It’s fair, whether you’re looking for a CIO or an assistant to the CIO,” she said. “It’s not a yes or no, black or white. It’s asking, it this person coherent? What role do they innately play? What corporate function will they contribute to?”

Schnapp-Rafael compares the RBA questionnaire to the scenarios given on reality game shows like Survivor or the Apprentice. Each area adds different potential stress factors, and demands candidates choose the role they would most like to take in a given situation, and what one they believe others will see them in.

The RBA reports detail not only a candidate’s fit but delves into what Schnapp-Rafael called “role pairing,” or who the candidate is best to work with.  

“A CIO does the assessment and it may come back that they’re a strong vision-mover. It would say their best person to work with should be a vision former, someone who can do the planning.”

Jennifer Perrier-Knox, lead analyst with HR research firm McLean & Co., said tools like RBA reflect the increased interest in ensuring technology staff have the right “soft skills” to mesh with corporate culture.

“A lot of hiring managers in IT don’t know how to ask the right questions during an interview process,” she said. “I think moving from a personality-based approach to a role-based approach has a lot of merit – it focuses in on how people actually behave with others in real-world scenarios. It’s both practical and insightful to try to predict a candidate’s behavior once they’re on the job. The cost of a bad hire is just too high.”

Companies should remember, however, that some people are simply better at taking tests than others, Perrier-Knox warned, and that some candidates might simply complete their RBA on an “off” day. There’s also the danger of pigeon-holing people and assuming they can’t move into another role.

Schnapp-Rafael said if a candidate asks to see a copy of the report given to a prospective employer, it will come with management suggestions intended to aid in their development.

TeamQuest will be offering RBA as part of its search services but will also work to certify HR departments at companies who are interested in the approach.

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