July 14, 2022

Employee Ownership and Skill-Assessment Tools

Executive Director

Is employee assessment different in employee-owned companies than in traditional businesses? The NCEO’s CEO roundtable addressed tools for skills assessment in its meeting, and the results were thought-provoking.

Of course, all companies assess the skills and strengths of their people at hiring, for promotions, or just as part of regular job performance or staff development. Some companies approach that evaluation informally, but many use systems developed by psychologists and offered through private companies. Those tools range from general personality assessment to tools designed specifically to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of employees and their fit with a particular job description.

One CEO noted that employee-owned companies tend to approach both hiring and staff development differently than non-employee-owned companies. “Other companies may offer a larger compensation package because they know that if economic conditions don’t meet their projections, they can just let the person go.” By contrast, employee-owned companies are more likely to invest in finding people whom they expect to remain at the company for longer and invest more in their professional development. That finding is consistent with research by ourselves and many others, including our recent study on employee ownership in the food and agriculture sector (members can, for example, read an overview in the June 2022 newsletter).

Many of the existing development tools can create a profile of an employee’s strengths on measures such as problem solving, flexibility, assertiveness, accommodation, and various aspects of emotional intelligence, and these measures can make it easier for the company to create a development plan for that employee’s career advancement. Those same measures can also identify the gaps in a team of employees: one CEO noted that his company’s executive team had strong scores across all the traits their assessment measured except deliberative decision making, highlighting an area for team training.

One CEO is considering adapting a skill assessment tool as part of creating a certified employee-owner program, with the idea that the company’s effectiveness and ownership culture depends on the employee-owners having the skills and awareness to work effectively as a team and contribute to their company’s growth plans. As another CEO said, “any tool that promotes self-awareness is a good tool for employee-owners.”