Lipscomb uses Polaris® assessment model to develop more effective employees

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Lipscomb University has launched a new, innovative competency evaluation service to help employers in the Nashville community identify proficient and ethical future employees as well as strengthen the skills of current employees.

CORE badgeThe service is offered through Lipscomb’s new CORE (Customized, Outcome-based, Relevant Evaluation) Competency Assessment and Development Center and is tied to the nationally recognized Polaris® competency assessment model which identifies and rates an individual’s key competencies. This information can be used effectively in hiring, in personnel management and in scoping out an effective program for individuals returning to finish undergraduate studies and earn graduate degrees, said Charla Long, dean of Lipscomb’s College of Professional Students.

“Through this new program, we offer a method of helping employers identify competency gaps in their employees and customizing an individualized plan of action to help fill those gaps,” said Long. “This helps the employee become stronger, more skilled individual and helps the organization develop a workforce that meets its needs. It can also be used by graduates to help a potential employer further interpret a potential employee’s best skills, an evaluation that is difficult if not impossible using traditional GPA and grades in a given course.”

Lipscomb is the only university in the nation to adapt the full competency assessment to higher education, both for incoming and graduating students. It has been widely used by human resources departments in major corporations across the country for 35 years. Companies already utilizing this system include Nike, PetSmart, Disney, Mars and Wendy’s among many others.

The CORE Competency Assessment and Development Center follows a four-step process that includes assessing an individual based on key competencies, awarding e-credential badges for mastering these competencies and creating a customized, self-paced development plan for the individual.

This assessment can be used in various ways. Individuals may earn competency “e-credential badges” that can become part of an employment resume that identifies an individual’s particular strengths. Human resources professionals may make more informed employee selection and promotion decisions, identify managerial potential, diagnose training and development needs, provide information for planning and evaluate the effectiveness of human resource programs.

The Polaris® model is an evaluation system that assesses individual ability in up to 41 essential competencies in seven general categories: communication, conceptual, contextual, interpersonal, leadership, management and personal. At its launch, the university will assess 15 of these competencies based on those most often demanded by employers. These will be expanded to respond to additional employer and student needs.

“Polaris® is a trusted model that is used by a number of successful companies across the country. But, regardless of the industry, the competencies are relevant and applicable.” said Long. “This system works because it is based on years of research that defines competency levels and shows how competencies work across a wide-range of functional areas. We wanted to develop a valuable resource for the business community in Middle Tennessee and to partner with a system with a proven track record. We believe this is a program that will help strengthen the workforce in this community.”

An assessment is a rigorous one-day process in which an individual’s behavior under a clearly defined set of circumstances is observed and evaluated by multiple assessors. Assessors, who receive extensive training in the licensed process, use a number of tools to evaluate individuals including observation; measurements such as simulations, in-basket exercises, role-playing and work sample; tests; and interviews. Observed behavior is assessed against very well-defined ideals for a particular behavior, eliminating most subjectivity in the evaluation process and creating an outcome that is replicable and comparable.

For more information about Lipscomb’s CORE Competency Assessment and Development Center, visit or call 615.966.1104.