How to roll out a global talent assessment transformation programme

How to roll out a global talent assessment transformation programme
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Global telecommunications company, Vodafone, is transforming. As the business transitions to a technology leader, a new approach to talent assessment was essential to attract the talent the business needs to deliver its future plans.

To talk about how Vodafone designed and deployed the programme, in partnership with Sova, we were joined by Vodafone’s Margarita Echeverria, Global Head of Talent Assessment and Simon Defoe, Global Assessment Manager.

Vodafone’s previous approach to assessment was leading to inconsistent outcomes in hiring. Talent acquisition teams in 22 different markets were implementing assessment in different ways, resulting in varying candidate experiences and unreliable selection decisions. A range of costly tools were limited by usage agreements and so assessments tended to be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. This meant that some smaller markets were being excluded from using the tools they needed to make fair decisions.

In response, the Vodafone assessment team designed and rolled out a global talent assessment transformation programme that offers a fair, consistent and engaging experience for candidates as well as providing much-needed data to the assessment and leadership teams.

The starting point for a new solution

The starting point for Vodafone’s new assessment solution was to define challenges with the existing approach. Margarita and Simon put together a list that helped them define what they wanted from a new assessment solution:

  • First were the assessments themselves. It was clear that there were gaps in the hiring process which meant the company was not assessing for the things that are really needed to be successful in roles. And with an eye on the future, it is becoming even more critical to assess for the behaviours and values that will support Vodafone’s transformation.
  • Second, building a team for the future can’t be achieved by looking at past experience. Vodafone’s previous process was too focused on people’s credentials and limited on assessing people’s talent. Not only did this restrict the extent to which the team could make the right hires, it also limited the talent pool.
  • Lastly, from an internal point of view, data from the current assessment process was scattered across different systems. It couldn’t be extracted and combined in a way that Margarita and Simon could use to either measure the impact of assessment or dispel some of the myths about it.

Having conducted a thorough review of processes globally, Simon and Margarita embarked on the search for a new solution.

A plan for the future of Vodafone

Using their analysis as the basis, the assessment team drew up a their wish list for a new global approach that would empower local recruiting teams whilst still generating fair, reliable outcomes. The solution needed to be:

  • Consistent across all 22 markets in assessing Vodafone’s core competencies, motives and behaviours. However, consistency needed to be balanced with flexibility to allow local markets to make adjustments.
  • Accessible so that candidates can take assessments in a language they understand and in a way that is not reliant on internet speed or access to a device. The new assessment solution had to enable mobility and open doors for more people regardless of where they live. This will help to improve the size and diversity of Vodafone’s talent pool which is much needed given Vodafone’s digital ambitions. Accessible, also means available freely to all hiring teams by removing limits on usage and thereby democratising assessment.
  • Data-informed so that the global team can constantly refine and improve the hiring process as well as measure return on investment. And, as candidate diversity was a key driver for this project, live reporting and analytics had to be part of the solution.
  • An intuitive, engaging digital experience for everyone involved including candidates, hiring managers, the talent acquisition and assessment teams in all markets. As a firm focused on technology, the new assessment solution needed to convey Vodafone’s commitment to the best technology through the hiring journey.

With these requirements in mind, the Vodafone assessment team searched the market for a partner, choosing Sova to co-design and deliver the solution globally.

Rolling out a global assessment solution

Designing, testing and rolling out the new global assessment solution was an exercise in communication and trust. Over and above the actual solution, the Vodafone team needed to generate advocacy and adoption for the new approach to assessment which would change the day-to-day roles of some talent acquisition team members.

In a candidate-scarce market, some hiring teams raised concerns about assessment being a barrier that could deter candidates from applying. To manage assumptions and reassure the global assessment community, Margarita and Simon made sure that they understood in detail the pain points that were being felt in each market and how the new solution would address them.

In designing the assessment journeys, the team took input from Vodafone’s global teams and built in enough flexibility to allow markets to add options but without compromising on the measurement of Vodafone’s core competencies. The assessment journeys that markets can choose from include situational judgment tests, personality assessments, cognitive tests and coding exercises. As Simon terms it, “We have baked the cake, the local markets decide how to decorate it”.

Talent acquisition’s role in digital transformation

Vodafone’s new assessment approach is now live across its global markets. Data is beginning to filter through, enabling the global assessment team to act on feedback further refine the assessments to improve diversity. Importantly, candidates are providing positive feedback.

“We are making sure we’re giving back to people who put the time and effort in. Making sure that all candidates are left with a positive impression of Vodafone”, says Margarita.

At a company level, the assessments and the data that flows from them is helping to shape a talent pool that fits Vodafone’s culture and values. The assessment tools are designed to identify people with the behaviours that drive Vodafone’s strategy, enabling the company to tap into a global talent pool in an inclusive way.

The entire digital assessment experience showcases Vodafone’s employee value proposition, articulating the company’s technology-focused future, meaning that hiring managers and talent acquisition teams globally are proud to invite candidates on the assessment journey.

What’s next for the team? To use assessment data in more strategic and future-focused ways, says Margarita. Now that she and Simon are freed up from the day-to-day administration and troubleshooting that came with the old process, they can concentrate on building the talent pipeline that Vodafone needs to build its future.

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