Linking Selection and Development

Many organizations spend considerable resources collecting information on candidates before making a hiring decision and then discard or permanently file away this information after an employee is hired. But information used for hiring decisions can often be used to accelerate employee development and performance.

Selection and development processes typically begin with the same basic action: Gathering information on a person's strengths and weaknesses. The difference is that selection uses this information for candidate evaluation, while development uses it for feedback to guide development strategies. The following steps outline an approach for using selection information to accelerate newly hired employees' performance and development.

Step 1: Identify information that can be used for development

Identify information gathered during candidate selection that could increase newly hired employees' awareness of their strengths and potential development needs. This could include aspects of their resume and work history, interview evaluations and results from personality measures or other assessment instruments.

Step 2: Modify information to make it suitable for development feedback

Selection often involves ranking people from best to worst. In contrast, constructive developmental feedback places little focus on comparing people against one another. For example, knowing that a person's analytical skills are in the bottom or top 10 percent of candidates is useful selection information. However, telling employees their skills are better or worse than their peers is not likely to help development and may even negatively influence performance. When people think they are failing, they often stop trying and quit. Conversely, when people believe they are the best, they may see no reason to work harder. Consequently, selection information may need to be modified before it can be effectively used for development. This typically involves converting information to highlight individual strengths and weaknesses without emphasizing comparisons between people.

Step 3: Hold development discussions with newly hired employees

As part of the on-boarding process, have new employees meet with HR to discuss personal development. This meeting should occur after employees have been in their role for several months and are reasonably familiar with the job environment. During the meeting:

  • Inform employees that the meeting is to share information gathered during the selection process to help them adapt to their role and avoid potential mistakes. Let them know that the meeting is conducted with all new hires.
  • Emphasize reasons why they were hired; share information from the selection process that highlights their strengths.
  • Present information that calls attention to potential development areas. Work to identify major development concerns if they exist. Do not identify development concerns unless they are important.
  • Ask employees how the organization can better use their strengths and help them improve potential weaknesses.
  • Facilitate development conversations between employees and their managers. Encourage employees to discuss strategies to use their strengths and manage areas of development. Have managers share what they will do to ensure employee success.

This meeting has several advantages beyond increasing employees' awareness of strengths and development areas. First, it helps establish developmental expectations and dialogue between employees and managers. Second, it demonstrates the organization's interest in employees' unique concerns and needs, which is likely to positively impact commitment and retention. Last, it helps establish HR as a function that proactively facilitates employee performance and development.

Step 4: Follow up with employees and managers

After employees have been on the job for about nine months, talk separately with them and their managers about their performance and development. These conversations support several objectives. First, they encourage employees and managers to maintain an ongoing focus on development. Second, they support retention by demonstrating concern for employees' career success. Third, they allow HR to surface issues that are negatively impacting performance and development. Last, information from these conversations can be used to improve selection by highlighting how different employee characteristics affect performance, and whether these characteristics can be effectively addressed through development or should be used as key criteria during the hiring process.

The time needed to complete these steps depends on the amount and type of information gathered during the selection process, and the depth of conversations held with employees and their managers. However, this is time well spent considering the benefits of increased employee performance and retention.