Are you afraid of completing a team procurement skills assessment?

Dave HenshallAssessments, Skills Gap Analysis

Are you afraid of completing a procurement skills assessment?

Are you afraid of completing a procurement skills assessment? Many CPO’s would like to conduct a reliable skills assessment to understand the knowledge, capabilities and skill’s gap of their team, but don’t act upon it further. The reason for this inaction is often the fear of a negative reaction or ‘kick back’ from their team or an organizational culture that does not support such ‘hard’ analysis of its employees capabilities.

Frozen Inaction

Many leaders display frozen inaction because they are uncertain how to manage the impact of conducting a skills assessment

This post will explain how best to unfreeze the fear of conducting skills assessments based upon our best practice advise:

In our discussions with clients, the following question comes up repeatedly early on in the discussion:

How do you position the skills assessment for the culture of the organization?

Behind this question lies a valid concern:

Nobody likes being assessed, and there might be an unintended negative reaction to the assessment.

Interestingly, the reaction to a pending skills assessment is one of the leading indicators into the mindset of your team, which is critical to its performance and, therefore, a central issue for its future development.

Understand Mindset:

Growth MindsetCarol Dweck’s ground-breaking research on individual mindsets shows that employees with a growth mind-set are more open to learning, willing to confront challenges, able to stick to difficult tasks and bounce back from failures. While those with a fixed mindset tend to set their goals low and avoid difficult challenges, and deflect failure elsewhere.

People with fixed mindsets will be fearful and resist skills assessment while people with growth mindsets will first accept it and then thrive on the challenge.

Dweck introduces the concept that far from everyone being tied to a fixed mindset, a growth mindset can be fostered to help individuals and organisations aspire and achieve in a more meaningful way.

This understanding is essential for any leader or manager and helps us prepare for conducting skills assessments in a supportive, non-threatening way.

Leadership’s Role:

Without a doubt, the decision to conduct a skills assessment must be leadership led. They must be satisfied it is the right thing to do and then lead from the front. The key to this is to establish trust.


Trust is the ‘key stone’ upon which the skills assessment program must be built

In establishing trust, management must display behaviours that increase motivation and reduce anxiety amongst their team. This requires very supportive non-threatening behaviors so as to position the assessment in a positive and motivational light:

Supporting employees to change from a fixed to a growth mindset

The actions needed will vary depending on the current level of collective and individual mindset determined.  However, once a leader has determined the general mindset of employees within their organization, they must create a credible environment to change mindsets for it to be successful:

Commitment to:

  1. Help employees grow
  2. Providing the resources to enable employee mindset growth and sticking to it, it’s not a quick fix
  3. Developing a management team who have bought into the concept and a commitment to changing culture
  4. Improvement and learning and ditching any semblance of a blame culture
  5. Improve terms and conditions to support employees through lower levels
  6. Providing opportunities and challenge for growth
  7. Understanding the proven benefits of an improved mindset
  8. Follow through with meaningful training and a commitment to continuous learning to address the identified development needs

Demonstrate Credibility Validity & Fairness:

  • The credibility of the assessment so that employees have trust in the accuracy of the assessment.
  • Assessment should always have a clear  purpose. Nothing will be gained from assessment unless the assessment has some validity for the purpose. For that reason, validity is the most important single attribute of a good assessment:

Reduce employee anxiety by reassuring them that the assessment will be used positively to provide genuine development opportunities and not as a performance management tool.

  • Explain how the assessment will be conducted and applied in a fair and equitable manner.

Sell the Benefits to the Employee:

  • Empowers individuals to have meaningful development conversations with their managers and take ownership of their careers.
  • Provides staff at all levels with a vehicle and direction for their professional development plans.
  • Internal recognition?
  • Validation of learning effort

Reassurance, reassurance, reassurance:

Explicitly assure your staff that the assessment isn’t a performance management exercise:

  • Demonstrating a genuine leadership commitment to learning, continuous improvement, and optimizing talent, while reducing the need for external hiring.
  • Be ready to reassure employees post assessment. Employees who perform well in the assessment are more likely to perceive the assessment favorably than those who do not perform well. Management’s role here is to reassure the employee and remind them of the credibility and fairness of the assessment.
Employees must feel they have a real opportunity to develop

Employees must feel they have a real opportunity to develop

For the organization:

Any skills development is a program, a continuous journey of improvement. It is not a single training event or the outcome of sporadic training events. It is important therefore that your assessment can accompany you along this journey providing program embedded analytics to measure both the effectiveness of the program but also to provide direction on necessary interventions and future training programs. iProcure Bench does just this:

Wave 1:

  • Aligning participants roles, job descriptions and competency framework.
  • Establish a baseline of current capability at an individual, team, and organizational level.
  • Agree program priorities and schedule training
  • By embedding assessments into a development program, we can identify the aspects that employees have not understood. It’s then possible to repeat certain aspects again, provide reinforcement and repitition opportunities until employees have fully understood. In this way, iProcure provides direct feedback on the effectiveness of the training methods.

Wave 2 and beyond:

At the end of a learning program, we can measure the learning that has occurred and create a new baseline for planning the next phase of capability building. It provides a clear overview of what worked during the program and what didn’t – and they can then plan their next program with this in mind.

Assessment outcomes also provide a good insight into what concepts or skills employees master easily and the concepts and skills with which they struggle. This information is a valuable guideline when deciding how much training to dedicate to different competencies – and can help ensure organizations don’t waste time and money on training competencies employee’s already understand.


Helping people to engage, be well, and grow are essential to a successful organisation.

While some businesses can thrive, even though, they exhibit a “fixed” employee mindset, it is unsustainable in the long term. It will cost more in basic levels of customer service, lost output, slow reactions to change and unskilled and unprepared people.

After all, if your business is doing well in “fixed mode”, think of the endless possibilities for achievement when employees are “self-actualised”. A skills assessment in iProcure is the first step to success.

Nuff said …

If you would like to learn more about how the iProcure Platform can start your capabiliy building program we would love to talk with you. Register for a free demo here.

iProcure iProcure provides market leading analytics and reporting to your desktop

iProcure provides market leading analytics and reporting to your desktop