I have been thinking about what makes a good assessor for a long time. Everybody has a different view of a good assessor. Think of the assessors you know who dropped out. Can you learn to be a good assessor? Yes, to some extent. But just like being a good soccer player, you have to have talent, be willing to learn, and take the time to develop your skills.
Some people have talent and don’t really use it, some try hard but will never be really good, and some will never get it. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, just that you don’t have the talent for assessing.
You must be able to deal with uncertainty, have a sixth sense when something isn’t right, never stop learning so you can make decisions when faced with uncertainty.
There are some crucial elements that you need to incorporate into your style while you are in front of a client; whether it be the way you present yourself, the way you ask questions, or just the way you collect information. All of these issues can affect the quality of the assessment and how smoothly it performs.
A very valuable point to remember is the process you engage. Consider the many extraordinary factors when assessing; language, background, culture, they all play a crucial part in the final outcome. Care must be taken to value your students/learners.
The assessment process should be agreed on and how it will be managed prior to the actual assessment taking place. It may be a new assignment or it may be a repeat process. Be clear on what is requied.
‘May I see an example?’ should be your motto.
Staff/personnel can be a great way of gathering information, but the devil is in the details.
Don’t be afraid to ask the same question more than once.I assume you know about assumptions!
Your whole job as an assessor is to gather facts and to interpret to the results – no assumptions included. This is still important even if you are familiar with the environment. Watch out for this expecially if you are involved with the follow-up assessment process. Environments change from year to year, situation to situation and company to company. Presumptions into the assessment could bite you in the end.
Try and look at each assessment engagement as a separate issue. Even if you are familiar with the organization, ask the questions to the relevant personnel (who are involved in the process) again and let them answer the questions.
Let them do the talking.
Bottom line – you don’t get any answers when you’re doing the talking. Setup a list of questions that allow the staff/personnel to describe the process. For example, “Can you walk me through how you would typically perform this process?” Use a confirmation questions at the end – example “My understanding of the current situation is like this. Am I correct?”. You want to make sure that the processes you have agreed to are as accurate as recorded.
Be friendly but don’t be their friend.
This is one of the most helpful items that I have taken to heart. As an assessor, you want your students/learners to feel comfortable. If they feel pressured you won’t get the results. Try connecting to them at the beginning of the process. Ask them some pertinent questions about their working career, how long they have worked at the company and see where the conversation goes from there. Magically a repore starts to develop and the imagined wall starts to crumble.
Other things to bring up: weather, news (NOT politics), and opinions on technology. Also show a sincere interest in what they do. People love talking about themselves!
Don’t report the findings until the end.
How many times do you get asked the question “So how did I do?”. The best strategy is to just say that you need to look at all of the information holistically before disclosing the results. Save this until the end where you can present your report (outcomes) in an orderly fashion.
Practice good meeting facilitation.
Lastly, you should always practice good meeting facilitation such as introductions, setting the tone of the assessment, good time management, keeping proper focus on the objective. This is important to ensure that all of the necessary information is gathered within the appropriate time frame.
Keep in mind that these are all recommendations and general guidelines to an assessment process. When the actual work is being performed, you are the general on the ground and no successful battle plan has been followed to the letter and the battle won. Adjust to the changes within the organization and environment and everything will complete successfully!