Eliminating Bias by Measuring Power Skills
Fundamento conducted an assessment exercise with 250+ students across tier 1, 2 and 3 colleges for an education management company
A harsh reality that still exists in today’s world of work is that employers globally continue to value credentials over potential while hiring. Particularly while hiring freshers, students from tier 1 colleges are at an advantage, and interviews and résumés are often misleading in reflecting the skill-levels of these candidates. Over the last year, we’ve highlighted the importance of power skills in improving performance at work and how it impacts business. This is especially true in customer facing roles.
Companies today are adopting a skill-based approach to hiring but the basic filtering of candidates continues to be a problem especially in organizations that hire at scale. Access to opportunity more often than not rests upon external uncontrollable factors like background and education institutions which typically restricts companies from accessing a much larger pool of talent available in the market. Remote work has helped drive this change to a large extent with resources spread across tier 2 and 3 cities and towns. However, there’s still a long way to go.
Fundamento worked with an education management company in the not-for-profit sector to showcase the potential of its diverse talent base. We conducted a thorough Skill Mapping exercise and assessed over 250 jobseekers who were fresh out of college. They were assessed across skills relevant for customer-facing roles in a remote work environment. We found through our study that their future-readiness was not dependent on the college or background of the candidate.
With on-the-job success being measured by remote work performance at the time, it was incredibly important to assess them on certain skills that played a huge role in determining this. Using the Skills Finder, Fundamento identified that the organization would benefit from assessing the following power skills for freshers:
The ability to exchange information, share and consider different viewpoints and pay close attention to the speaker while responding in clear, concise, and impartial ways.
Under this power skill, sub-skills like Negotiation and Persuasion were also measured. This was critical as these skills are highly indicative and predictive of success in sales roles.
The ability to be driven by eagerness, logic and realistic observations to explore and seek out novel information or experiences.
For customer-facing roles, it’s important that individuals are driven by eagerness and are able to probe extensively to understand a client’s needs to establish specific pain points that can be related to a company’s product.
The ability to be responsible for and willing to hold account of one's functioning, combined with the ability to maintain transparency, autonomy and dependability in all aspects of work.
Keeping in mind the remote work setup, the candidates required an understanding of the importance of getting work done and engaging in appropriate knowledge sharing to accomplish that.
The intrinsic ability to overcome hardships and to adaptively cope with stress in a way that allows one to bounce back and resume normal cognitive and physical functions.
In the rapidly-changing world of work, it is essential for individuals who enter the workforce to not be bogged down by objections, rejections and pressure while consistently finding new learnings.
The individuals assessed were spread across all three tiers. Almost 50% of the cohort had completed their Bachelor’s from colleges ranked as Tier 3.
Individuals from tier 2 & 3 colleges outperformed tier 1 individuals specifically on Effective Communication. The primary differentiator was seen in sub-skills Negotiation and Persuasion, both of which, as mentioned earlier, are predictive of success in specific customer-facing roles. It was determined that students from diverse backgrounds tend to offer unique insights and are equipped with critical power skills crucial to succeed in customer-facing roles.
Considering this assessment was conducted during a remote work situation, the main objective was to measure the readiness of individuals for remote work placements. Resilience stood out as another key skill that students across tiers scored well in.
There was in fact a unique correlation between GPA and Resilience for tier 2 & 3 college students. GPA was strongly correlated with micro-behaviors like the ability to work independently, show willingness to learn, and persevere. Nonetheless, the results were unable to capture a student's ability to be innovative & creative, or negotiate effectively based on a correlation with their GPA. It was concluded that the assessment results showcased a more holistic measure of an individual’s overall future-readiness, regardless of their GPA or background.
Another unique finding that emerged showed that students pursuing HR specialization showed highest tendency towards innovative thinking & curiosity (60%
average score) v/s other students pursuing Finance, Operations Management etc. (51% average score), and students pursuing Finance specialization displayed the highest average performance in Resilience (56% average score) v/s other other students.
Why is Resilience an important power skill for customer-facing roles?
In the current work environment, there’s a need for agile workforces. Step one in that direction is to develop critical power skills in individuals such as Resilience. Resilience allows individuals to be able to quickly adapt to changing situations. This is how it can potentially play out in a Sales or Customer Experience role:
- Finding new learnings and being determined despite not closing sales or facing rejections
- Moving past any client objections or critique in order to achieve goals
- Maintaining consistent efforts to bridge the gap in target achievement
- Staying focussed and not being bogged down by the need of working consistently under pressure
- Prioritizing tasks in order to deliver high-quality output
- Embracing criticism and viewing it in positive light
One of the biggest mistakes organizations make while not taking a skill-based approach towards hiring is losing out on jobseekers who might add immense value to the company. With remote work, employers now have access to an entire pool of individuals who irrespective of background or college, tend to be highly skilled and future-ready to perform well in a customer-facing role.
The top three takeaways of this data insight were:
1. Power skills are objective predictors of future-readiness in individuals
2. Measuring power skills allows for eliminating bias from the traditional hiring process
3. Power skills give employers a better sense of which role an individual is more suited to, for instance, someone who scored high in Effective Communication is likely to be a better negotiator and someone who scored high in Curiosity might be better at consultative selling.
If you want to power up your organization with behavioral skills, reach out to us at Fundamento.