What to Assess When You’re Assessing

05/29/2012 09.35 EDT

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The use of some type of assessment methodology has been on the increase in the executive selection process over the past several years. While executive assessment is nothing new in Corporate America and tools such as Assessment Centers have been in use for well over 30 years, the proliferation of the use of assessment tools in the selection of external leaders is a relatively new phenomenon. In my experience, assessment tools for external candidates have become fashionable over the past decade and can be tied to the increasing focus that many corporations place on talent management.   Traditionally, and in my opinion incorrectly, corporations have held the recruitment and selection of external leaders as separate and distinct from such company pillars as its culture, leadership development and succession planning process. The attributes by which an external candidate wins a leadership position in a new company are often at odds with the process by which an internal executive would receive a promotion in that same company.   Take the Julie Roehm/Wal-Mart debacle as an example. If Ms. Roehm had been subjected to an assessment process that included a review of how she would fit within the Wal-Mart corporate culture, would the company have hired her in the first place? Not just to Wal-Mart’s benefit either, as Ms. Roehm herself told Fast Company in 2009 for an article titled “Behind the Rebranding Campaign of Wal-Mart’s Scarlet Woman”: “She now ranks cultural fit — geographic and corporate — at the...