Over the last four years of the Career Progression Gateway (CPG) assessment process for FRS promotions, the pass rate has hovered somewhere around 55%. Sometimes it will drop below 50%, but in general 60% + is more common, and this is consistent across FRS’s and promotional levels.

However, lately, pass marks seem to have risen. What does this mean? Is it a problem? Do we need to change anything?

Firstly, an increase in the number of candidates passing isn’t any great surprise for a few reasons.

  • Candidates are better prepared.
    FRS’s are making sure candidates are equipped for the assessment challenge they face. This essential support can positively impact how candidates feel about the tasks and their FRS itself, protect their self-esteem and encourage stronger morale. Whether this preparation is in the form of a briefing, self-study workbooks or the new VCA e-learning course , candidates will have a better understanding of what the tasks will look like, what the standards are and how to demonstrate them in both every day and assessment contexts. Preparation activities help individuals become better candidates, which in turn creates better results and ultimately better managers.
  • Candidates are re-sitting the CPG after an unsuccessful result
    There will be a familiarity effect of a re-sit (even on different exercise versions), but more important than that is the way candidates commit to the development process. Most candidates are very open to learning and motivated to improve. It makes sense this will be reflected in their assessments second time round.
  • Candidates are getting better feedback
    With the CPG support options available from a developmental feedback report to feedback and development session with a work psychologist, candidates have better access than ever to detailed guidance on how they performed and how they can improve their approach in the future. Feedback in the past could be a bit hit and miss, with focus only on how candidates did in the assessment (and how to tick boxes to do better next time!) Feedback options now are much more holistic; discussion of exercise performance is framed within the context of exploring what this means to workplace performance and how changes can result in more effective leadership and management behaviours.
  • Development programmes are focusing on leadership behaviours
    The NFCC Leadership Framework is guiding assessments such as the CPG, and development programmes (such as the NFCC’s Supervisory Leadership Development Programme). The consistency in messaging, development and assessment creates an ideal environment for behavioural and ultimately cultural change.
  • Conversations about the leadership behaviours are increasing
    Whether this is through the CPG/ assessment feedback options, career conversations (NFCC talent management toolkit) or Portfolio Discussions, the role that leadership behaviours have is being highlighted more clearly at all levels. Line managers are being encouraged to embed coaching, feedback and mentoring behaviours into team functioning, and being supported towards a greater understanding of how the leadership behaviours impact on day to day organisational functioning and service delivery.

All of these factors are very positive. But what does this mean for the organisation?

Ranked results

Even if all candidates pass, there will still be a rank order of pass marks, which means that if there are limited places on a formal development programme they will still be allocated to those who score the highest.

Development Needs

A CPG pass by no means signals no development needs, and irrespective of score, there are always areas to consider for future growth. More organisations are now building in development programmes for candidates who don’t pass their promotional assessments, which may include coaching, mentoring and a range of more creative routes for development (which some FRS’s are actively supporting Line Managers to identify and coach). It may be that candidates with a lower pass would be directed to this route.

Candidate Perceptions

Although disappointing for a candidate to not earn the promotion they hoped for with a pass mark, the sense of achieving the required level may offer consolation on the outcome. Promotion processes are generally competitive, although quite rightly emphasis is also encouraged for the career progression and development aspects. But knowing that you reached the required standard, even if it wasn’t strong enough on this occasion, may be more supportive of wellbeing and continued motivation.

Higher Scores

Achieving the pass mark or up to 10% above this demonstrates a fair understanding of most of the key elements of the leadership framework. Scores of 15% and above tend to show both that the candidate has understood and can explain how they would implement the leadership qualities.

Higher scores across the board is a demonstration that the messages around what is valued and important are taking root. This is a positive indicator for culture change. However, there is still enough differentiation in performance to be able to see which candidates are likely to perform consistently and effectively at a more senior level.

Range of Assessment

A narrowing of the spread of scores does further support the best practice advice of using at least two different assessment exercise formats which measure the same criteria in the same way. Performance across the CPG Case Study and Roleplay can differ considerably, and as such offers a more well-rounded approach to performance evaluation.

A narrower range of scores is also a positive reflection on the application process. Scores lower than 40% for the CPG indicate that the candidate was probably not ready, in terms of preparation or experience. Scores which lie above 50% suggest the application process, whether this is a career conversation, appraisal, portfolio, application form or other method, is identifying suitable candidates effectively.

Thinking about new approaches to promotions, appraisals or helping your line managers develop their teams? Talk to us! We are industry experts and would love to help you continuously improve the FRS.

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