Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Are Our Colleges and Universities Missing the Mark?

Colleges and Universities often "miss the mark," when it comes to preparing professionals for success. When students leave our college campuses, they often leave with a deficit in two areas: Experience and People Skills. A lack of experience is expected but an absence of people skills is often a big surprise to employers.

Of course, a lack of either is an obstacle to higher performance, but while cognitive ability often steers an inexperienced employee clear of mistakes, there is no quick fix for mistakes employees make when dealing with people. Discovering that employees with higher level of people skills are quicker to succeed, our colleges and universities are taking note. No longer is it only about thinking skills.

For example, some colleges are screening applicants for admission to professional studies that require higher levels of people skills by using a series of behavioral type interviews that surface a need for listening, communication and emotional skills among candidates. Many applicants are being rejected for professional degrees, simply because they do not have the people skills necessary to succeed. Still other colleges are offering people skills training and evaluation in the form of emotional intelligence testing and training, listening assessments and communication labs and workshops.

One university, for instance, received 2700 applications for Medical school, they reduced the number to be considered to 239 as a result of cognitive testing, but plan to make even more reductions based upon the results of behavioral interviews over a 6 month period. Class size is set at 42, so nearly 200 more will be eliminated based on their emotional skill level. It does seem to make sense that the process could be enhanced even farther by assessing candidates on their Emotional skills at the same time cognitive skills are evaluated. In all, the combination of the two processes: emotional assessment and behavioral interviewing of candidates, while not the perfect solution, may be far more successful at turning out professionals that are "High Touch" rather than "High Tech." That will be a good thing.

Stephen J. Blakesley, Managing Patner, GMS Talent L P ( http://www.gmstalent.com ) is an Entrepreneur, Author, Radio Show Host, and Speaker. His two, most recent books, "The Target-The Secret to Superior Performance; ( http://www.targetthebook.com ) and Strategic Hiring - Tomorrow's Benefits Today are top resources for business owners, mangers and C-Level executives around the world.


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