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May 16, 2016 Issue

The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information


Assessment Based Solutions for Employers in the Talent Management Area


Joseph Kistner

Founder & CEO





Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – May 16, 2016


CEOCFO: Mr. Kistner, your site indicates you are providing talent solutions for the future work force. What is your approach?

Mr. Kistner: At Talexis, we specialize in measuring people by utilizing a suite of psychometric assessment tools. We provide employers with relevant insights to a person’s reasoning ability, their personality, as well as their occupational and motivational interests. Our solutions are assessment based solutions in the talent management arena. We are uniquely focused on identifying the characteristics from the millennial workforce to help employers with recruiting and managing of this emerging workforce. Today everyone has looked at millennials almost as another species and they are leery of how to work with them. They’re not sure how to manage or recruit them. At the end of the day, they are just people.


CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of what you are measuring and how you analyze?
Mr. Kistner:
We measure three components. The first is cognitive ability. We use a reasoning comprehension assessment tool that is designed to measure an individual’s capacity to reason. It’s not about how smart they are, what their IQ score would be, or a measure of their GPA. It is a measure of their expected learning, reasoning, and problem solving potential. That’s an important differentiator. I have seen people with double PhDs score low on this assessment. It measures the way and the speed of which the individual processes information. We then move into the personality characteristics. We measure six personality characteristics that decades of research have proven to be indicators of success on the job. These personality characteristics are Manageability, Attitude, People Contact, Competitiveness, Take Charge or Assertiveness, and Sense of Urgency. Measuring these factors will help the employer identify behaviors that a candidate is going to bring to the job. We also measure their occupational interest. The world of work is broken down into six different interests based on the Holland model. These interests are based on decades of research from the psychology world. The categories are Business and Enterprising, Financial, Creative, Mechanical, Technical, and People Service. Interest is important and often overlooked. Research shows us that people are motivated by what interests them most. If you can identify an individual’s interest, then you can better learn how to engage them and raise their motivation on the job. When you have a workforce engaged, motivated and matched for the job that they are suited for, you are going to have a productive work force. The combination of all this provides the ability to find individuals who are a good fit for a position. And that’s what it’s all about – job fit. We help employers put the right person in the right job the first time.


CEOCFO: What do you include that perhaps less knowledgeable or talented people are not seeing as important?

Mr. Kistner: I think talent management professionals understand the importance of measuring these components but what a lot of managers and recruiters are doing is measuring these through observation. There are two ways to measure an individual. You can do it through observation. This takes time, can cost money and, most importantly, it is subjective. The other way is to use a standardized psychometric assessment tool that measures these characteristics. Our assessments can be completed quickly - in less than an hour and the information provided is completely objective. Bringing objectivity into the talent management process is paramount. By delivering this information to organizations, we are reporting the core personalities and behaviors that an individual would bring to the job. When a hiring manager is going through an interview they are trying to compare people to people. So while they are interviewing, they are saying to themselves “Is this person going to be like Sally?” but they really wish the individual would be like Steve. Man, they hope he is not like Joe. They are sizing them up, trying to evaluate their personality in that interview to discover what they are going to bring to the job. All we do is to take that process and make it scientific by assessing them with an accurate, reliable measuring tool that can provide objective information to the employers, to the hiring manager, and to the HR professional. This way they can have reliable, consistent, and objective information to make the best decision. The key thing about this is to measure people consistently. Then it becomes a matter of what you do with the information that makes process valuable. Assessments are just one of the tools that should be used in the management/hiring process. Because we consistently measure people, we can work with clients to help them understand what to do with this information, how to maximize this information, and make better decisions with their talent.


CEOCFO: Who is using your services today?

Mr. Kistner: It varies. Currently we deal with mid to small size organizations for the most part. The reason being is that larger organizations have often hired teams of psychologists that have created their own assessment tools in-house. They have invested heavily, millions of dollars, in their process. This fact shows that they do understand the value assessments bring to their talent management processes and to their bottom line. Our market is the mid-size employers which have the same challenges and issues that a large company has but cannot afford to develop their own assessment tool. We cover the entire employment lifecycle throughout all industries. Our platform and processes are completely scalable enabling us to answer the needs of the small company to the Fortune 100 size company.


CEOCFO: Do candidates try to game the system and provide the answers they think you want? How are the tests designed to overcome that tendency?

Mr. Kistner: Any solid psychometric assessment tool will have checks and balances inherently built into the tool. There are things that are done to measure consistency and inconsistency. The technical term would be called Distortion. This is an internal consistency measurement to see if the responses seemed to be distorted. Masses of people have been assessed over decades to create standardized data which is at our foundation. Distortion checks to see if the responses are inconsistent or statistically not in line with how these people responded. The level of Distortion is indicated on each of our products, providing additional data for the employer.


CEOCFO: How are you reaching out for potential customers?
Mr. Kistner:
We are dealing with clients out of our corporate office, mostly local. We also have a distribution network that consists of independent consultants, entrepreneurs, trainers, and coaches and they see the benefit of adding assessments to their repertoire so they can have more of a product offering. As a consultant, everybody is trying to sell their time. What we bring is an added dimension to consultants which enables them to have a product based consulting business. This makes it a lot easier for point of entry. If you are going to do any kind of consulting in the talent management and talent development space, you have to start with information. The best way to get information is through assessments. We call our network of distributors Alliance Partners and they are instrumental in distributing our products. Some of the larger organizations will want to work directly with a corporate office, so we take care of those accounts out of our corporate office.


CEOCFO: One of the things that you mentioned was measuring a person’s interest. It seems that millennials look at work differently and look at jobs in areas of their interests as top priority them. Is that more of a myth than reality?

Mr. Kistner: Next month I am doing a webinar on the millennials and the myths associated with them. The primary interests of millennials are different than prior generations. Since the millennial workforce has largely been overlooked and misunderstood when it comes to developing psychometric assessments we are including a significant sample size of millennials as part of our reliability and validity studies. The most recent one we finished was 300 plus students at Texas State University. The results were very interesting. We found that the millennials differed from previous generations in a number of ways. The primary interests in previous generations was enterprising and business where today the primary interest of the millennials is creativity. They are very creative and people focused. Where before, creative was the fifth highest out of the six for previous generations. What motivates millennials, and what they are interested in is different. It’s important for managers to know these differences as they are trying to manage and motivate the millennial workforce. But that is just their interest piece. As you look at them as individuals and look at their behaviors, there are many misconceptions about the millennials. People think they are lazy. Well, I can show you statistical data that says their sense of urgency and their energy level is equal to previous generations. People interpret laziness as “They are just not doing what I want them to.” That all changes when you get them focused on what they want to do. They are not lazy; they just want to do different things. We cannot interpret their actions as lazy just because their motivators are different from mine, or yours or somebody else’s in the previous generations. They are not lazy just because they do not want to do what you want to do or the way that you want them to do it. The other thing that we measured was manageability. They are challenging the rules and they are much lower on manageability. They question, they are skeptical, and they ask, “Why are we doing it this way?” This is a big change in the previous generations’ thought processes and behaviors. This can be a good thing, you just need to make sure you take that information, harness that information, and apply it to the right job within the organization.


CEOCFO: Are you able to work with your clients, in addition to providing the tools, with imparting some of this knowledge or leading them in a direction to utilize what you are able to provide in a more productive way for the company?

Mr. Kistner: Absolutely! That is the number-one reason why we distribute our products through a network of independent consultants, because the skill sets they bring to the process add a different level of values. At Talexis, our specialty is assessments: assessment development, assessment design, and distribution. Where the most value is provided to the client, is where the output and the information provided by the assessment is combined with ways to leverage and implement that information. That is where our Alliance Partners come in. Clients will not get as much value from having the information when we say, “Yep, here is the report. Thank you very much.” The real value is when you have a consultant who understands the product, understands the report, who can interact with the client, and say, “Based on how I know your business and based on what the information is telling us, this is the direction we should go.” This is the value of Alliance Partners.


CEOCFO: Do most employees anticipate tests of this nature and is it becoming standard?

Mr. Kistner: It is actually changed radically. Ten or fifteen years ago, an employer would say they did not want to use the assessment because then people would not apply for the job. They could look somewhere else to find a job and not have to take a test. That has now changed. If you look at Bersin by Deliotte in one of his last articles, he published that 40% of companies are using pre-employment assessment tools now and that is increasing by a rate of 13% annually.


CEOCFO: You have been in the industry a long time but Talexis is a relatively new company. What has surprised you as Talexis has grown and evolved in a short time?
Mr. Kistner:
The biggest surprise is the number of HR professionals who still do not know this industry even exists. I have talked to literally hundreds of people in the last couple of months as we are explaining our opportunity. They listen to it and believe it is an unbelievable methodology and approach and they did not realize that this technology was even available. Everybody understands assessments at some level. Everybody has been through Myers Briggs or some sort of survey or assessment - even all the way back to the university days. To take the type of technology that we have with psychometric assessment tools and create a standardized benchmark per position within an organization is an approach that leaves people amazed. We are not new at doing this. Our methodology has been around for twenty years because I was involved in the design of this methodology back in the early nineties. So it is not a new methodology. That’s why I am so surprised with the number of people that still do not even know it exists.


CEOCFO: When you are testing, does ethnicity, nationality or socioeconomic level come into play or does the fact that people are people trump everything?

Mr. Kistner: At the end of the day, people are people. That being said, the factors you are talking about are critically important. It is the difference between a real assessment and a want-to-be assessment. An assessment tool that has done development work, psychometric research, validation and reliability work is solid if the samples that you use to do that research include all of those groups. If you do not include all of them, you cannot claim the output of your assessment is an accurate representation of the working population. You could, therefore, open yourself up to discrimination. It is critically important that you have a cross section of the working population when you do your validation and research to create the standard and the norms needed to build an assessment.


CEOCFO: What is the competitive landscape?

Mr. Kistner: You might think the assessment landscape was flooded but it is not. The assessment industry that Talexis is a part of is the personality based assessment industry. It is a completely different world than the educational assessments and skills assessments. However, the employee evaluation or personality assessment industry has been a very fragmented industry. Believe it or not, it has actually been referred to as a cottage industry. There are only a handful of players in this space. One of the reasons I created Talexis was because it was time for a new look and a new face. It was time for a new approach. All the competitors in the market have been around since the last century – literally! Talexis is the newest generation assessment company in the world today. Everyone at Talexis has been in the personality assessment industry for at least 10 years or more. Several of us have been a part of this industry for over twenty years. Our combined past allows us to bring all that experience to bear as we avoid the pitfalls of the past. Being able to stand on 40 years of science and research allowed us to develop more efficient, intelligent ways of measuring individuals while creating better ways of achieving job fit. The world has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. We once used the postal service to deliver pages of information. Now we text a few letters to express ourselves – LOL. Other companies that have been around for a long time are bound by the foundation of product design and delivery choices made in a previous century – before the advent of technology. It is difficult for these assessment companies to make the changes and to react to the market needs in the ways the market needs them to, because of their product’s foundation. It is difficult to make changes to the product because they have a large user base that they then have to go retrain. Most of the competitors choose not to make those changes. When I started Talexis, I had the luxury of years of feedback from clients, users, and resellers since I was in charge of product development. They would ask for new features. It used to frustrate me when I kept saying, “Great idea, I really cannot do it. I am at twenty languages and if I make that change, I have to fix it in twenty countries.” It was difficult. When I started Talexis, I had a clean slate with today’s technology. I was able to acquire great psychometric science and create a great assessment tool based on solid science. I could productize it and bring it to market in a current fashion, with a current design, modern look and feel. It was all designed by, tested on, and implemented with millennials in mind. That is a significant difference that Talexis brings to the table.


CEOCFO: What is the takeaway for our readers?

Mr. Kistner: It is our mission to ensure that individuals and organizations succeed and grow together. We help companies put the right person in the right job. When this happens the organization is going to grow, the individual is going to succeed and all the other business drivers will be met - such as profitability and productivity. This all stems from making sure employers focus on their people and use the right tools to ensure that they put the right person in the right job, the first time.


“It is our mission to ensure that individuals and organizations succeed and grow together. We help companies put the right person in the right job. When this happens the organization is going to grow, the individual is going to succeed and all the other business drivers will be met - such as profitability and productivity. This all stems from making sure employers focus on their people and use the right tools to ensure that they put the right person in the right job, the first time.” - Joseph Kistner





Joe Kistner








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