May 30, 2019
Exactly how do you go about capturing and effectively measuring a soft skill? Example: how to capture and effectively measure empathy?
Empathy has been widely studied and there are a number of validated assessments which attempt to quantify a persons capacity and/or display of empathy. In fact, there are organizations dedicated to assembling these assessments into one place, such as the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. But, the only way to truly assess empathy is in the context of relationships. A person or group being assessed can be present with or placed into a situational event, scenario, or mocked up interaction and their response observed by others in the scenario as well as onlookers to rate the individuals empathy. This quantified information can be combined with some of the assessment data (self report and observed) to come up with a very good rating of a person’s ability to empathize.
How you evaluate the development of a soft skill?
If we continue on with our empathy example above, ideally an assessment and observation would be done without the person knowing that you were measuring empathy. This will produce the best, most realistic, rating. Once the assessment or observation has been performed once, if done again, the subject of the assessment will be wise to what is being assessed and will automatically do better just because they were exposed to the assessment prior. Therefore, while it is easiest to administer the same assessments, it is more accurate to administer another.
Additionally, enough time must pass for an individual to grow in the development of that soft skill. The idea, then, would be to do an assessment to get a base value, a starting point, for the soft skill (like and empathy score). Then, to continue to assess that individual by different means (but which align somewhat to the initial assessment) to monitor the progress of, or the decline of that skill.
What stops an untrained HR team from using "emotional intelligence" as a proxy for hiring people they like/just like them?
Nothing. That, of course, is the company’s prerogative. However, as most organizations have found out, diversification of race, color, sex, age, viewpoints, attitudes, personalities, et cetera benefits a company much more than a set of employees who look, act, think, and feel the same. Some of the benefits are explained in research and online articles.