Meet the people shaping talent assessment to support organisational needs
We interview Simon Roberts, regional head of talent acquisition for Siemens Energy, to find out which talent project he’s most proud of, and why.
Siemens is a pioneering digital business headquartered in Germany and operating globally. It is the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe.
Simon was head of talent acquisition for Siemens plc, before moving recently to the newly created Siemens Energy AG which is the leading pureplay energy company.
What talent project are you most proud of?
It’s what we call our Mindset project; we understand it is truly industry leading and it’s come about through the knowledge and support of many. In fact, the Mindset project came about almost from a perfect storm of internal thought leadership about how we hire, conversations and complex needs of the business and then the necessity to make it real.
Since January 2020, the project focuses how we select all external and internal hires in the UK and Nordics, and we hope will revolutionise selection for the business globally.
The Mindset project helps our hiring managers select people who are most likely to thrive and adapt in our ever-changing, complex environment –
when it’s frequently not possible to pinpoint what may be needed in the near future.
Siemens has been evolving for 200 years, but the last 2-3 years have seen the biggest changes ever. We need a workforce who can learn and then unlearn. We needed assessments that give us insight on whether individuals will adapt to our circumstances, and whether we are the right company for them to work for.
Like many organisations, it’s also essential to improve the diversity of our workforce, at all levels. This is happening in any number of interventions across the business.
We’ve been big on understanding behaviours in early careers hiring for the last 5 years. We see behaviours as more important than someone with a certain number of years’ experience or attending a certain university. Yet 95% of Siemens recruiting didn’t have the same rigour with assessment. It was the kick start the business needed.
We started by developing our Mindset model internally to unify our organisational culture, values and behaviours that are important for future success. We wanted to select people who can keep up with the unpredictable ways in which roles, the organisation and the industry change.
We reached out to suppliers, aiming to find out how to translate our ideas into actions, needing to have a lens into how candidates measure up. Aon’s Assessment Solutions was the best, its science and expertise brought our ideas to life.
Aon’s support included mapping Siemen’s Mindset Model onto pre-validated assessments to measure abilities, work styles and preferences. Four of Aon’s assessments help the talent team and hiring managers to understand candidates’ numerical reasoning, logical reasoning, learning/memory capacity and personality. All assessments were designed to engage digitally for completion on laptop, phone or tablet.
What really impressed me with Aon was the focus on the candidates’ hiring experience. It wasn’t that it was just robust for us as a business, it needed to be good ask for applicants. We needed it to be challenging, of course, but enjoyable to a certain extent.
Measuring success: the key achievements
So far, for the business and talent acquisition, we’re gaining evidence-based information about our people, we’re making sound hiring decisions backed by science.
Instead of competency-based interviews, we see individuals’ potential and mindset. If someone can demonstrate the right abilities, it doesn’t matter if they haven’t got a certain number of years’ experience or formal degree qualifications. This also means we can hire from a wider talent pool and be more inclusive, accessing diverse talent that may have been overlooked before.
We’re also gaining greater talent mobility, accessing candidates globally, increasing fairness and reducing bias. We believe, too, we’re increasing retention potential by hiring future fit employees.
What we didn’t know at the start, is how it would come into its own during the pandemic with no face-to-face interaction with candidates. We were able to carry on with assessments, while facilitating a more effective and safe experience for candidates, hiring managers and the business.
The Mindset project helps change perception, seeing people in a different light
to make much better and informed hiring decisions.
Anecdotally, feedback from managers and candidates is positive, even though it creates change for all. They are given stronger information to interview and hire better. Feedback is that the new hiring process is a really good lens. One senior leader was interviewing three internal candidates for a role. He said using the new process led him to a different outcome that what he thought, based on his previous knowledge of the candidates. On top of this, our UK CEO has used it too, and is very happy with the results.
As for candidates, we want them to feel the process is fair and valuable, while also being clear and engaging. With information on our website, we help them with information about the process, our working environment and provide preparation tips. The new process means too, that they can access assessments at a time and place that suits them, plus they are now able to apply for global roles. Indeed, it will help drive career decisions for their time at Siemens. Every candidate gains results from the assessment, which is useful for an interview at Siemens or any other companies they apply to.
One of our next phases is to validate the new model, to understand how it translates into work performance. Interesting results are already apparent and predicting success – candidates who perform better in the assessments are showing the ability to perform 12% better than those who didn’t perform as well.
What did we learn?
Our managers were crying out for extra hiring support, yet many weren’t understandably able to articulate what they needed when everything changes so rapidly here. We needed to bring or own thought leadership. In this sense, the importance of co-creating with people cannot be underestimated. We’ve had great support and ideas from our CEO and hiring managers.
My belief is now that mindset is key, not university, degree or experience.
We also learned that there’s a balance between tech skills and soft skills, even in an engineering organisation like ours. The Mindset project has shone alight on behaviours and competencies. We’d always talked about it but couldn’t previously measure it in a sophisticated way.
I wasn’t sure this project was possible. It’s all well and good a vendor saying they can do it, but now we can say we are doing it and making an impact on selection. We think we’ve delivered something quite unique, and we’re proud of it.