A RazorpayX Payroll report in April revealed that, among the new hires, the CEO and senior executive roles have seen a maximum spike. It saw the highest increase in headcount for the same to 123% in FY 22. Employee headcount in mid-level roles grew by 86% while entry-level roles saw a growth of 63%. The junior-level roles where the employee count grew by 92%, which is less than the two-fold growth witnessed in senior roles.
This means there’s a huge demand for talent at the top management. This demand, naturally, has led the CEO compensation to hit a new high this year making it hugely expensive and unsustainable for companies that are seeking leadership changes.
When it comes to senior hiring, a lot of variables come into play – the talent needs domain expertise, the right culture fits and leadership qualities. The key attribute of a leader is the person should be able to lead the team to have better business outcomes. But identifying the right person might not be as easy as it sounds. Assessment tools can thus be a great addition to the recruitment process.
However, a global Mettle I Mercer Leadership Trends of 2019 suggests that 42% of organisations have no competency framework to structure their leadership hiring process. The report also reveals that the average time to recruit a top leadership talent is 3.2 months.
In India too, the adoption level is not so significant. However, according to Ritika Mathur, Partner, Human Capital Consulting at Grant Thornton Bharat LLP, this trend is changing dramatically. “In the last few years, in my experience, the tide has turned in this case. The main reason is that B-schools have introduced psychometric analysis, specifically personality tests in their batch profiling. These tests, when used in conjunction with others, give a good understanding of the candidate’s fit. This has cascaded to the corporates. So we are seeing a lot of organisations adopting psychometric analysis or personality tests as a part of this screening process, typically for very high stake roles.”
Mathur also added here that the need for the same is building at the leadership level when they’re hiring or promoting somebody. The usage of these behavioural assessments, leadership style assessments, or psychometric analysis, as they call it, has seen an upward trend.
The need for it
Pradeep Kumar, Business Head & SVP, Quadrangle too believes that the assessment tools should definitely be a part of leadership assessment practices. Although it should not be the only factor considered when making a hiring decision, it should be given a certain weightage along with education, previous experiences, personal meetings, and reference checks. It is always a good idea to use the same tools to evaluate the current set of leaders who are driving the business.
“Choice of an assessment tool should be primarily based on the need of the organisation’s basic principles as to what traits are important for its leaders who are in decision-making roles,” Kumar asserts.
While hiring for senior roles, organisations want to go beyond skills and experience demonstrated in the resume or selection process. Psychometric assessment tools are of support here to understand the candidate as a whole person, perceive their natural style and preferences, recognise their motivations, and discover how they would fit in the current team and culture.
At Reliance-owned Zivame, the skill-based assessments are extensively used for hiring positions at scale. These assessments have led to reduced recruitment cycles and higher success in conversion rates for the organisation. Rishu Garg, Chief People Officer, Zivame shares, “These assessments have helped us to appreciate diversity in individual preferences and drive customised inclusion plans based on different interpersonal styles. In the coming years, as more data is generated from these assessments, the success predictability and role-fit insights will continue to become sharper, which will further reduce the time taken for candidate selection, improve candidate experience, and help everyone in making smarter decisions!”
At Reliance-owned Zivame, the skill-based assessments are extensively used for hiring positions at scale. These assessments have led to reduced recruitment cycles and higher success in conversion rates for the organisation. Rishu Garg, Chief People Officer, Zivame shares, “These assessments have helped us to appreciate diversity in individual preferences and drive customised inclusion plans based on different interpersonal styles.”
But there are a few challenges that are keeping a lot of organisations from employing these tools for senior management hirings. Sometimes recruiters and hiring managers, when selecting lateral hires for a tech role, decide to skip assessments for experienced developers. This decision is often taken to prevent any discord. We have often heard experienced professionals being reluctant to ‘prove’ their skills. It goes back to the same problem of choosing resumes over skills; just because a recruiter has the ‘right’ resume, you would hire them over someone else who may be better equipped to lead the team.
“ Pradeep Kumar, Business Head & SVP, Quadrangle feels it is important to choose an assessor carefully. All assessment tools throw up a pattern of data and a generic reading of the same. How that information should be interpreted in the current business dynamics of the organisation will define the outcome and its effectiveness.”
Vishwastam Shukla, CTO, HackerEarth explains, “Normally we think that a senior leadership role should only go to someone who has a certain kind of resume, say, ten to fifteen years of experience, a degree from a top-tier university, and so on. What this mindset does is that it automatically excludes candidates who do not have the prescribed pedigree from the hiring pool, even if they are equally skilled.” He opines that by applying the same filter of assessing for skills to senior roles, companies would be providing opportunities and access to all candidates who are deserving of the job, and not just a chosen handful. This would go a long way in levelling the playing field for candidates across the spectrum, and hopefully, lead to healthier and more diverse tech teams that are built on merit alone.
Pick the right assessor
While mindset is one area that needs a bit of improvement, there are a few other concerns as well when it comes to the assessment of senior hires. Kumar feels it is important to choose an assessor carefully. All assessment tools throw up a pattern of data and a generic reading of the same. How that information should be interpreted in the current business dynamics of the organisation will define the outcome and its effectiveness.
“It is also important to help the assessee be in a professional setup and in the right frame of mind at the time of taking the assessment – to have an honest and unbiased outcome. It is a good idea to have a discussion with the prospect post the assessment, framing the discussion around the outcome – which may give a fair chance to the individual to share a point of view on why they take a certain type of decisions,” Kumar adds further.
With skills gaining demand and the gaps increasing, it is high time organisations go beyond resumes and make use of scientific data for senior management selections. It can eradicate ambiguity and bias.
-With Bruhadeeswaran R