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Building a Truly Global Talent Assessment Strategy at Vodafone with Margarita Echeverria and Simon Defoe

On today’s episode of Science 4-Hire, I’m joined by Vodafone’s global head of talent assessment, Margarita Echeverria, and global talent assessment manager Simon Defoe. They’re here to talk about their work to create a global talent assessment strategy, the challenges they’re overcoming and their priorities moving forward.

Vodafone is a worldwide force in the telecommunications industry. The company is also in the midst of an evolution. “Vodafone is becoming a technology company,” Echeverria says. “It’s moving away from the traditional telecommunications business to become the best product provider of connectivity and digital services. Our focus is how we can transform our business to become a digital company.”

That change has big implications for talent — and especially for recruiting.

To fuel this transformation, Vodafone evaluated its existing assessment process and devised a game plan to overhaul it and “really focus on the skills that drive the behaviors that will support our strategy,” says Echeverria. The company knows the behaviors that drive purpose and strategy and has ensured the global team can detect and measure those behaviors through assessments.

Want to find out how Vodafone’s global talent assessment strategy is taking a truly global approach to assessments? Check out my conversation with the architects of this strategy, Margarita Echeverria and Simon Defoe.


Addressing the Challenges of Global Assessments

One of the challenges facing any global assessment strategy is identifying a global solution that meets local needs. This solution has to be accessible to different populations while accurately assessing behaviors across cultural differences. It has to simultaneously be standardized and locally relevant.

Executing a global but localized program requires a lot of work on the back end. “I think before you implement these kind of things, there is a phase — and we have done it with all the assessments — where we pilot it and review the data,” Echeverria says. “[We] try to see if it’s inclusive, it’s fair, there is no adverse impact, and also having an understanding of the local context.”

Calibrating assessments across different locations has improved Vodafone’s outcomes and helped users see the value of candidate assessment.

Establishing a global talent assessment strategy is no small undertaking. The Vodafone team didn’t try to tackle it all at once, instead gradually working toward that goal, Defoe says. “Start small and then scale,” he says. “It sounds like a big change — and it is — but actually, it’s just about baby steps … being patient and scaling up.”

Vodafone also approaches assessments based on the role, but always takes a blended approach that uses several complimentary assessment tools knit together to create a frictionless candidate experience. Defoe explained how senior roles utilize specific types of psychometrics, as well as live interviews and assessments. Entry-level, front-line positions, meanwhile benefit from situational judgment assessments and high-volume screening.

“Then if you move into our more specialist roles, that’s when we’ve got a specific technology platform for our software, engineering, data science-type roles that we use for them,” Defoe says.

Showcasing Compliance Through Visibility

One of the challenges of a global assessment strategy is ensuring fair and consistent results in each location despite cultural nuances and demographic differences. After completing research on the back end to guarantee inclusivity and fairness, the Vodafone talent assessment team began implementing assessments across locations — but with a regional twist.

Following the lead of South African regulation, which requires companies to compare candidates within the local market, the Vodafone team committed to implementing that principle globally. “Candidates are compared to candidates in the same location to make sure that the process is fair and inclusive,” Echeverria says.

Managing compliance across regions is challenging, but the Vodafone team is committed to mitigating risks and improving acceptance through transparency.

Vodafone focuses on “being able to demonstrate that fairness and inclusivity of the process — particularly where we’re using things that are maybe a bit more controversial, like AI,” Defoe says.

Balancing Global Processes With Local Needs

Designing global processes is a complex balancing act. You need consistency in how processes are designed and implemented, but you also need the flexibility to adapt to local laws and cultural norms.

Vodafone’s talent assessment team encountered this challenge when they began implementing their program on a global scale. “The solution needed to be consistent, but also deployed at the same time in many markets and at scale,” Echeverria says. “We have big-volume recruitment processes, so how do we do that balancing act? How do we focus on the needs of the markets but also have that consistency?”

This global but local focus also manifested in the tools Vodafone chose. Defoe and Echeverria worked with colleagues to understand each market’s needs. Ultimately, the decision on what tools to use came from those markets rather than the global team.

One example of local modifications is Vodafone Ethiopia’s graduate recruitment program. The global team learned that many candidates couldn’t access laptops and were taking assessments at libraries. The team modified the assessments to reflect those candidates’ technology restrictions — such as removing video requirements from the interviews.

For a global business undergoing massive transformation, the Vodafone assessment team has taken a series of small steps — to big effect. And their success can be a model for other companies.

“Don’t look at assessments as a process,” Echeverria says. “Look at assessments as an opportunity to really show what your company stands for, and showcase your brand and values.”

People in This Episode

Catch Margarita Echeverria and Simon Defoe on LinkedIn and at Vodafone.

Read the Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to Science 4-Hire with your host, Dr. Charles Handler. Hiring is hard. Pre-hire talent assessments can help you ease the pain. Whether you don’t know where to start or you just want to stay on top of the trends, Science 4-Hire provides 30 minutes of enlightenment on best practices and news from the front lines of the employment testing universe.

Get ready to learn as Dr. Charles Handler and his all-star guests lend old-school knowledge with new-wave technology to educate and inform you about all things talent assessment.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of Science 4-Hire. I am your host, Dr. Charles Handler. As usual, we have some amazing guests today that are going to talk to us about best practices for building a seriously global digital hiring process — of course, with assessment playing a really important role. I’m very excited to introduce today Margarita and Simon. They’re part of the talent and succession team at Vodafone.

For those of you in the U.S., you probably have heard of Vodafone but will learn a lot more. Those of you who are global, you’re going to know a lot about Vodafone, being pretty much the major telecom player on the planet. Amazing. Without further ado, I always let my guests introduce themselves, because who knows them better than them? Margarita, why don’t you kick us off?

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yes. Hello, everybody. My name is Margarita Echeverria. I’m a global head of talent assessment at Vodafone. As you can see from my accent, I’m a Latin American.

I’m from Colombia, and also have an Italian nationality and a British nationality. It’s a long story, but a multicultural person. I’m a psychologist and a psychometrics expert.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Awesome. Simon?

Simon Defoe:

Yes, I’m Simon. I’m talent assessment manager at Vodafone. Also, a psychologist, like Margarita. Not lived in as many countries as Margarita, unfortunately.

Worked in the talent assessment space for probably the last six or seven years now at Vodafone, and previously the John Lewis Partnership, for those that are joining from the U.K. Yeah, that’s me.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Awesome. Well, we have a lot of experience in assessment here today, which is great. You’re going to see that this experience actually played into building an amazing program.

I always like to feature programs that I feel are a blueprint or a template for others who are really looking to build a center of excellence in their company around assessments.

Margarita, tell us a little bit about Vodafone. I think, especially our listeners here in the U.S., probably don’t have a fully clear picture of who you all are.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yes, happy to do so. Thank you, Charles. Vodafone is a global telecommunications company that aims to keep society connected and build a digital future for everyone. It’s our motto, I would say. We employ about 100,000 people worldwide.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Wow, that’s a lot. It’s always really good to frame up discussions. I find it extremely valuable to look at the big picture. Talk to us a little bit about the big picture of Vodafone.

You stated the mission very clearly, but what does that mean in terms of your strategy and your people strategy in hiring?

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yes. In simple words, Vodafone is becoming a technology company. It’s moving away from the traditional telecommunications business, to become the best product provider of connectivity and digital services. Our focus is how we can transform our business to become a digital company.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, nice. I started my career in telecom at Sprint as an IO psychologist. I was really amazed then, even though it was a long time ago before the internet was really — I think we were emailing at that point — but I really didn’t have the connection point that telecommunications really is technology. I did a lot of building of taxonomies and stuff later on. And just realized the overlap between IT skills and telecom skills is very, very significant, so great.

Simon, talk to us a little bit about the present state of hiring before you started the program. Obviously, you all know about assessments. There were assessments already in use, which isn’t always the case when people start out. You didn’t have a clean slate, necessarily, but talk to us a little bit about what it looked like before, the program.

Simon Defoe:

Yes. I suppose probably, in mine and Margarita’s role, the key thing for us is how do we enable and deliver assessments globally. The countries we operate in, Europe, in Africa, in the Middle East, and all of those countries have different needs and different requirements based on the types of roles that they’re recruiting for. I think the state two to three years ago for us was pretty much using multiple vendors — four or five assessment vendors, who were doing slightly different things or, in some cases, offering very similar products to each of the markets that we operated in.

Back then, we were going, “This is OK. Great, markets are using certain tools.” But actually when we’re getting to the bit around wanting to scale or wanting to validate our approach, that becomes much tougher. Because we’re going to lots of different platforms, trying to bring information, data together, made that bit really difficult.

I suppose another real key bit for us was, how do we create a global consistent framework and standard? Our approach previously was very much, “Here’s some tools. We’d love you to use them. Give you some training on how to use them.” But actually making sure, as Margarita was saying, those principles of Vodafone, our values. How are we making sure that actually, in all of the countries that we operate with, delivering that and assessing that consistently?

I think we weren’t, is probably the reality, so that was one of the real drivers, I think, in terms of us wanting to change.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s so easy, a lot of my career, and probably y’alls, too, has been very much I call it firefighting. Oh, the call center has really high turnover. We got to do something about that. Let’s put an assessment in. That may happen in pockets. When you try to build it out as a holistic program, there’s so many other challenges, and we’ll talk about some of those.

Margarita, internally, how did you guys lobby for a new approach to be needed? How did you sound the alarm to say, “Look”? Maybe that’s a little extreme way to describe it, but how did you pitch it to say, “We need to do something differently here, to be able to fulfill our jobs, our roles”?

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

For us, early on, we identified the behaviors that drive our purpose and strategy, and we were not evaluating these behaviors consistently in our recruitment processes. These actually forced us to find and develop tools to measure those key behaviors. We had a motive, we had a reason, a rationality behind it, of making an effort to step up what we do in assessments, to really focus on the skills that drive the behaviors that will support our strategy.

Another thing that we did to engage, was that our stakeholders and get support is that we needed to have a consistent hiring bar across our market, so hiring the same way for the same roles. It was required to implement a new approach that offered that consistency that was essential for Vodafone. At the same time, the business arrived to a point, “OK. How do we have consistency across the business, but at the same time, satisfied all the assessment needs of our markets?”

We understood that we needed to find a solution that allowed us to deploy candidate assessments at scale in multiple languages, in a cost-effective manner. There was a need for that — and how that assessment approach aligned with such a big, massive organization like ours, with global operations. Also, as well, we understood that assessment data was scattered, so we had a lot of pressure to show the impact of assessments.

We got that support. OK, let’s do something, let’s get assessments together to be able to see that data. It was hard to have analytics and understand the value-add of people assessment in our recruitment processes. With all those pressures, the business was supportive of us to change our existing approach to assessments.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Gotcha. I’m just curious about how all the seeds really get planted. Did you have to lobby them and say something to them?

Or did they come to you and say, “Hey”? Just a little snippet of how it really came about that action was going to happen.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yes, so the needs were there. Markets have different needs, but I think the first thing we did was actually work on creating a culture of measurement. Really focusing on, first of all, educating the business of how you measure people, what are the practices out there? Having a SharePoint knowledge hub, where people can easily access information about assessments and how to assess people. The main focus at the beginning was really communication and education to get that sponsorship.

Normally in projects, people go straight away to the tools and the processes, and later in the process, they start with education and communication. We did it the opposite. We started educating and communicating the business, making sure that they understand the assessment tools available, how they needed to do it. And then slowly tried to deploy a new approach, based on that foundation.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Oh, wow. Very good. That’s what it takes sometimes. It’s hard to make things shift, but the reasons are really good and really strong.

Simon, tell us a little bit about the key pillars, as you started to look at, what is it that you really wanted in a little bit more faceted way, the program to be like. What were some of those more specific goals that you wanted to hang the program on, if you will?

Simon Defoe:

Yeah. I think the first was actually really focusing on the user experience. Whether you’re a candidate, whether you’re a recruiter, or whether you’re a hiring manager or an assessor, what we wanted was that they could go to one place in order to either complete any assessments we’re asking them to do, administer them as a recruiter or as a hiring manager, to look at any candidate results or run any interviews or live activities. I think that was the first bit.

We mentioned earlier about actually, when you’ve got four or five different vendors, the challenge isn’t so much around, “Are the tools good themselves, are they bad?” The challenge is, let’s try and get recruiters that are short of time to set up assessments on four or five different platforms that might add value. It’s a challenge and, in reality, people don’t have the time to do that, so that was the first pillar. The second was, which Margarita has already mentioned, is around really focusing on skills- and behavior-based hiring.

It links into that first point really. How are we getting a well-rounded view of each candidate — their behaviors, their cognitive ability, their specific skills related to a particular role? Especially for us, technology and technology roles, which is a large chunk of our recruitment.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah.

Simon Defoe:

The third then was around creating assessment journeys. What we mean by that, is taking specific clusters of roles, or functions or job levels, which is where we started in saying, “Actually, at this job level, what is the minimum standard that we are expecting, in terms of the assessment process, and what can a local market decide to add on?” Actually, candidates go through that journey for that job level or that function, and they’d all complete the same assessment.

So moving away from us going, “Here’s a tool where you can set up a personality assessment, or here’s a tool where you can set up a recorded video interview and go, for this type of role, here’s how you can get a well-rounded view of the candidate with different assessments within a journey.” The final one was really about making sure the assessment process is fair and inclusive, from both the monitoring perspective and do candidates see the process as fair?

Then ultimately, starting to take some of that data and starting to think a little bit more in depth about how we’re monitoring things like adoption, how we’re monitoring predictiveness. Is it helping us select the right talent for the organization? At a more basic level, actually just using good, quality data to make selection decisions in the first place.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Imagine that. Imagine that, because it doesn’t always happen that way.

Simon Defoe:

Yeah.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Well, that’s great. Talk to it just really briefly, too. Candidate experience obviously is so important. It’s not one of those things that we talk about that’s a fad, or there’s not really any substance behind it because it was created by marketers or anything. Candidate experience is a human experience.

Everybody wants to be treated fairly, equitably and have a smooth, frictionless process. Just really briefly, were there any things you were really looking for when you set out to say, “Here’s how we’re going to set the bar for the candidate experience in what we’re doing”?

Simon Defoe:

I would take two things, actually. The first and most fundamental, was that all candidates that complete an assessment should get personalized feedback based on their performance, regardless of what stage they’ve reached in the process.

The second, it’s just about digitalizing the experience for them. Especially, as we’ve mentioned, we’re trying to be a tech communication organization.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Right. Right. Right.

Simon Defoe:

It makes sense that the process feels digital and tech-savvy to our candidates, as well, so those are the two. But the first one really about feedback for candidates was the number one.

Dr. Charles Handler:

That’s so great. Here in the U.S., that’s really more difficult than I think in other places. I’ve always encouraged people that are in our business or even not in talent acquisition, whatever, to work on, “How can we do that?” There’s so much concern about saying the wrong thing to a candidate, and then they bring legal action or something. Here in the U.S., that’s paramount, but we’re finding ways. I just think that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

When you all do things like that, it sets the bar. It provides an example for people of how it can be done without friction or problems really — again, with the legal climate being different from market to market, though. Well, great. It sounds like you guys found a platform. Full disclosure, these are Sova clients and built out this vision on our platform, but we don’t need to talk anymore about that beyond making mention.

Margarita, obstacles, right? Many, many obstacles, I’m sure. What were the things that you immediately took a highlighter or whatever and said, “Oh my gosh, how are we going to work through this? These are problems to solve”? Surface for the audience, some of the major things that you saw when you got started, that you knew you had to manage through very carefully.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yeah. I think the first thing you have to do is think about the company you work for. Our company is a company that is global with multiple countries and markets that we need to support. The main obstacle that I would say is how we can provide a solution that fits everybody.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

We have big markets, small markets, so that diversity, it was a challenge. The other thing that we encountered was that the solution needed to be consistent but also deployed at the same time in many markets and at scale. We have big-volume recruitment processes, so how do we do that balancing act? How we focus on the needs of the markets, but also have that consistency across, so that was difficult.

The other component of any of these kind of projects is that when you introduce an assessment stage or a recruitment process that perhaps was not there, or was there in a different way, you change work practices. That’s a big challenge for people to adopt, particularly when time to hire is such an important measure of success in recruitment. Adding an extra layer of candidate assessment created resistance in some of our recruitment teams, so we had to deal with that.

I think the other component, or the other obstacle, is around finding the right assessment journeys for each seniority level in the organization. That’s a challenge in itself, because answering the question of what to measure is not a simple question to answer. Then you need to find the right balance between having a good, comprehensive view of people talents but, at the same time, create a process that is engaging for candidates and to avoid any dropouts or have excessive, long recruitment processes.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. You don’t want to just sling the same test to everybody, obviously. I’ve found that to be the biggest challenge in my career is just saying, “All right. We’ve got all these different things.” You have to put the same amount of care and thought into selecting what tool is used where, for every one of those segments.

It really takes a study and data to figure out who gets what. Briefly, Simon, give us just a really brief description of the types of tools you use in the program, just a high level. I think our audience would be curious what type of assessments are used.

Simon Defoe:

Typically, our more senior roles will be personality, cognitive ability, those types of psychometrics. Then we’ve got some live interview and assessment activities that we can use. Then as we get to more entry-level roles, like graduate or front-line customer service, retail roles. It’s much more about those high-volume screening tools, those situational judgment assessment that bespoke to us. Some AI-based, recorded video interviews, and some just general recorded video interviews, as well. Then if you move into our more specialist roles, that’s when we’ve got a specific technology platform for our software, engineering, data science-type roles that we use for them, as well.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. Pretty comprehensive, and pretty much using the full inventory of test content and types that we like to use, which I like to see. Of course, the blended approach that’s targeted is really good. Margarita, let’s talk a little bit. I’d like to focus in on what you already mentioned, which I think is one of the biggest challenges, as I already mentioned.

How did you go about operationally figuring out, in different geos, how are you going to adjust the program? What are you going to do to make sure that you have a standard program that also honors what’s happening locally? That’s one that, I think, always leaves us scratching our heads a little bit when we’re trying to figure this out.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yes, exactly. You always have these dilemmas, no? How far you can standardize something, but also make sure that it makes sense locally. To give you an example, one of the things that we did, we had a massive project in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, that project involved the recruitment of graduates at a massive scale.

With a sample of more than 50,000 graduates to assess, in a country that not all candidates have access to laptops or connectivity. Many of them have to go to libraries to complete their assessment. We adjusted the assessment process in such a way that candidates could participate in the experience with limited access of technology and connectivity. For example, removing the video requirement from interviews, providing assessment tools that were mobile-enabled. Supporting the team locally to understand the data, to progress candidates to other stages in the process.

So, ensuring that candidates were progressing with the behaviors that we needed to have that consistency, despite making adjustments to the process to suit the local needs. If I think of it all of our journey, throughout all the projects that we implement with our different markets, it helps us a lot to listen to their feedback and really go with the mindset that this is a solution that is evolving. You have to be open to evolve your solution in collaboration with others, with other people in the markets. In that way, you can keep that consistency and maybe find ways that will help other markets but also incorporate the local need within a global process.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Talk to us a little bit about more of the psychometric, technical part of it, too. Did you do local validation in each geo, and then change the norms a little bit, adjust those? We’re always fascinated, right? I think the general rule is personality is pretty stable globally, and the traits are going to be the same.

But we also know there’s cultural differences, say, like, in a collective culture versus a more individualistic — and then, even cultural norms about how you express yourself, how you would say something negative to someone. That comes out potentially in the responses to say even a personality assessment. Talk to us a little bit about the psychometric adjustments, if there were any, for local conditions.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yes. To give you an example, one of the things that you have to also look at is at the norm groups. Who are you comparing people with? For example, South Africa, being a market that is highly regulated to avoid any discrimination, forces companies really to make sure that candidates are compared against African candidates, if it makes sense. With that principle, we actually deployed it in all of our markets.

Candidates are compared to candidates in the same location to make sure that the process is fair and inclusive. The other thing is that, if I think about the psychometrics and adjustments, for example, we started to start using AI. And with that in mind, we did, first of all, a good analysis. I collected a big sample of graduates in different markets for our graduate recruitment process. And did a thorough analysis to understand if the algorithm was discriminating over males, over females, so it was fair.

I think before you implement these things, there is a phase — and we have done it with all the assessments — where we pilot it and review the data. And try to see if it’s inclusive, it’s fair, there is no adverse impact. Also, having an understanding of the local contest.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. Just what you’re describing and, as we’re talking about, this is a lot of work. It’s easy to see why a lot of companies just say, “You know what? That’s just too much work.” We know even just getting a validation sample or getting a survey in the field can be really difficult. It’s important for everybody to know this does take work, but I believe it’s worth it, right?

The ROI, and even just the way the company — to candidates and to your general consumers, you’re a consumer-based company. So you really have to be extremely careful about your brand and about making sure that everything you do is representative. That’s the value, I think, in these little things, and little things add up. It’s really good to hear that there’s sponsorship and people like yourselves able to drive a program like this, because that’s really what it takes.

Simon, tell us a little bit about — this program’s been in use now probably for a year or two. I’m sure you’re evolving it, but what have you been able to find, outcomes-wise, that you’re proud of to say, “Hey, you know what? We could take this back to our leadership. We can say this is working, and now we need to invest in even more.”

Simon Defoe:

Yeah. I think it’s been about, well, we’re coming up to a year now of the platform being live, so I think probably building on what Margarita said, actually. The most important for us, I think, is being able to demonstrate that fairness and inclusivity of the process. Particularly, where we’re using things that are maybe a bit more controversial, like AI, where you can actually say, “Well, here’s the average score, but the AI is given for males versus females.”

For example, versus when we are using human evaluators to actually really show that we are getting both operational benefit, I suppose, but also an inclusivity dividend, should we call it, as well. I think that’s one really important one. I think the adoption, as well. Obviously, just a lot of these decisions are based on commercial, what’s commercially viable, as well as what tools we like and don’t like. I think actually our adoption has increased, I think, by about fourfold last time we got an update, compared to the previous year with our previous approach.

Yeah. I think the third, I think, we’re super-proud of, is the candidate experience. I think actually, if we think of some of the feedback that we’ve received from candidates where they’ve compared it to other companies that they’ve been interviewed for, I think that feels good, as well. That, actually, that approach to giving feedback and making sure that candidates aren’t always against completing assessments. If you make it feel like part of the experience and they’re going to get something back from it, they’re much more willing to complete it and see the benefit, whereas if it’s a one-way transaction. Those are the three things I would say.

Dr. Charles Handler:

One thing I’m curious about, Margarita, you had mentioned values and the behaviors or company values that are pervasive. We’ve seen more and more of this type of work. Have you guys done any outcomes or validation work yet? Say, here’s the impact on the outcomes or even just the talent flow into the organization, based on now really looking carefully at these values from an assessment perspective?

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yes, indeed. Is that the Holy Grail?

Dr. Charles Handler:

Right. Right, exactly.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

We are getting there slowly. It’s harder than people think, but I think it’s about having the intention and having a plan to start to understand the impact of assessment, and that requires an integration with other HR tools. Assessments as a standalone is not enough. You need to understand, then, if a person has a certain score, that this person gets higher and then, therefore, how long they stay with us and how they perform.

We are making a good, good effort to have those connections in place. At the beginning of the implementation of the project, we have been really focused on adoption. We look at how many candidates are completing our assessments, the feedback they give us — because candidates can provide feedback about the experience they had — and we are taking actions based on those feedbacks and indicators.

The other thing is how the business and the markets where we operate receive the tool. We constantly are looking for feedback from our stakeholders, and taking corrective actions when needed. But also we are measuring how they use it, how they use the processes, for what roles and what volume. How many hiring managers are assessing with our interview solution. It’s all about adoption.

What we are looking at next, and started to look at, is about diversity and inclusion. We are really focusing on understanding how people are scoring based on gender, based on age groups, and try to see how we can make our tools more inclusive. Then, the future for us is predictive analytics. Hopefully, we will sit there and be able to say, “OK, someone that has these behaviors and these skills will be a great performer, that will have a great retention with us and will stay longer.”

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, amazing. Yeah. It’s really about building the infrastructure and this stuff, you can’t just put the whole program in place and expect it to do everything it needs to do in year one, but it’s great to have that foundation. And like you said, if nobody’s using it and there’s no change management around it, then that doesn’t do anybody any good, right? We’ve seen that a lot. We’ve also seen, I’m sure all of us in our career, I know I’ve come in as a consultant in the past. People will say, “Well, we’ve been using this assessment for 10 years. Nobody even knows if it works, it’s not relevant anymore. Come take a look at it.”

It’s amazing how stuff can just keep lingering as a legacy without any real care and feeding, if you will. It’s great to see thinking about a really well-resourced, well-supported global program. Simon, tell us, I know you all won an award recently for the program. So just to talk to our audience a little bit about that award and what it meant to you all.

Simon Defoe:

Yes. The award was a Talent TIARA Award, based on the candidate experience, the best candidate experience tool and platform really. For us, it was great because that was obviously one of the underpinning reasons as to why we wanted to change our approach to assessments.

Also, it helps validate. Sometimes you do all of these things internally, and you start to go, “Actually, is what we are doing similar or better than what competitors are doing?” I think it was great to receive that, and I think just validates our approach, particularly from obviously the candidate experience perspective.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Awesome. As we close out here, it’s been a really good conversation. I really hope that listeners can learn something from this, that they can apply to their own programs. Certainly, we’ll give you all a quick chance to talk about how people can get in touch with you, but it’s pretty obvious LinkedIn.

Everybody always answers, “You can go on LinkedIn.” But just quickly, what advice would you all have for others who are sitting where you all are, in terms of how to take something like this head-on and how to really make it work? Just high level, anything that comes to mind, either one of you all.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

I think the first thing, what I will advise anyone undertaking a project like this, is to focus first on building a culture of measurement. Making sure that you educate the business, and communicate constantly the value of assessments to make data-driven decisions to be more fair, to have a better way to understand our people’s talent. All that conversation needs to be created in the business before a tool is implemented.

I also recommend, please get a senior leadership sponsorship. This is a people change process, so you need their support to help you with adoption. That’s fundamental. Finally, I would say the other thing that I recommend is, make sure that assessment data is integrated with other HR systems, because you know the impact of these tools if they sit in isolation. Finally, I would say be patient. It is a people change process and takes time.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, for sure. Simon, you got anything to add?

Simon Defoe:

Yeah. The only bits I would add to what Margarita said, definitely echo the people change process. Actually, a lot of the time, it’s the people change rather than the technology change that’s the more challenging, which I know a lot of people will appreciate. I think for me, it’s starting with your end goal. What is your end goal? For us, it was all about, what we’ve discussed a lot about data, that predictive analytics.

So going actually, if we implement this approach, can we get to that point at some point in the future, which we know we can. The second, which I think worked really well for us, is spend as much time as you can speaking to your market, your internal colleagues, and getting their buy-in. When we went out to pick vendors, we got them all involved in the decision-making, and ultimately, it was them that chose a vendor, rather than me and Margarita, which I think really helped.

The other bit I think that helped us a little bit was just starting small. Start small and then scale. Yeah, the big picture, it sounds massive. It sounds like a big change and it is, but actually it’s just about baby steps. As Margarita said, being patient and scaling up.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yep. Rome was not built in a day, as they say. Cool. In our show notes, we’ll have your contact information, but anything else you want to speak to for our audience, as far as how they might be able to follow what you’re doing? Any other things you want to provide? Any opportunity for promotion right here.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Yeah. Go for it. Focus on candidate experience, and the experience of it all. We got an award because of that. Because the crucial thing here is that people want to complete the assessment, enjoy the experience, and then you have the data that you need to make those decisions, those hiring decisions and talent decisions.

I think that’s one of the things that I want to encourage. Don’t look at assessments as a process. Look at assessments as an opportunity to really show what your company stands for, and showcase your brand and values. It could be an experience that can give back to people going through it, through them and to those that need that assessment data.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Cool. We call that winning. Good job. Thank you all so much for your time today. Great stories to hear and we look forward to seeing what comes next.

Margarita Echeverria Rengifo:

Thank you, Charles.

Dr. Charles Handler:

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November 25, 2022
Sova Assessment
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