Friday, March 1, 2019

Personal Development Assessment (PDA) for the Purposes of Staff Recruitment and Development



The Personal and Professional Development Assessment (PPDA) is created by Patrick Tomlinson for the purposes of recruitment and development.  It is based on many years’ experience and research into the personal qualities most associated with successful performance and development.  The aim is to assist:

organizations in achieving excellent outcomes in staff recruitment, retention, and development;
individuals in identifying their developmental needs and objectives to fulfil their personal and professional ambitions.

The assessment is carried out by interview by Skype, etc. Therefore, it is easy and efficient to plan. It takes 1-1 ¼ hours.  It can be used in any profession, at any level, - from entry to CEO. It is especially relevant to those involved in demanding and challenging work.  

The PPDA can be used to inform decision making on the recruitment of new staff, as well as the promotion or change of role for existing staff.  It assesses -  
  • The personal qualities that are linked with resilience, positive performance, and development.
  • Where a person is now in their development.
  • The level of demand and responsibility currently capable of.
  • Potential in the short to long-term. 

Results from the assessment provides important information to consider an applicant’s suitability for a role and potential for development.  This can also be used to help create an Individual Development Plan.  It is anticipated that the consistent use of the assessment in organizations will contribute to significant improvements in,
  • retention
  • reduced absence from work
  • engagement
  • quality of performance
  • development

The assessment areas are informed by research that identifies the qualities most associated with successful performance, resilience, and development.  It looks at the candidate’s life and work experiences, personal qualities and views on key issues. Each assessment area has its own focus, but also overlap with each other.  The areas covered in the assessment are,
  • Sense of Purpose
  • Perseverance
  • Ownership (Responsibility)
  • Growth v Fixed Mindsets
  • Supportive – Demanding Scale 1 (‘Parenting’ Style, Personal Development– general approach to one’s own development and that of others)
  • Supportive – Demanding Scale 2 (Professional Development, People Management)

See Appendix 1 for Glossary of terms

There are three parts to the assessment process,
1.      Carrying out the interview
2.      Assessing the interview
3.      Providing feedback
The same interview and assessment are used for all purposes. It may be used for recruitment or development, or both.

Confidentiality All interviews respect confidentiality. Where an organization is involved only the overall assessment results are shared.  Any personal content of the interview is not shared except with the permission of the candidate or when it is appropriate to share concerns.   


There are three feedback options.  Option 1 is feedback to the organization with the overall assessment below. Feedback will be given re suitability for specific roles.

Feedback Option 1 is most suited to entry-level positions where there are many assessments to carry out. This summary is emailed to the organization within 1-2 working days.  

Option 2 This includes the information from Option 1 and a full assessment report and recommendations for development (See Appendix 2).  This can be especially helpful where the development of internal candidates is a part of the process.  A ½ hour feedback session is also offered to the candidate with a copy of the report.  In this option, the report is emailed to the organization/individual within 3-5 working days.    

Costs A full summary of costs is available on inquiry, with any other queries to Patrick Tomlinson    Further info @

Patrick’s experience spans from 1985, mainly in the field of specialist residential and foster care services.  Beginning as a residential care worker, he has since been team leader, senior manager, Director, CEO, consultant and mentor.  He is a qualified clinician, strategic leader, manager, and author of many publications.  He is vastly experienced in recruitment, training, and development.  He has carried out longitudinal studies and research on staff retention.  With one organization staff retention was improved by 60%.   

In 2008 Patrick Tomlinson Associates was founded to provide development services for people and organizations.  Services have been provided to clients in Australia, Japan, UK, Ireland, India, and Portugal, among others. 


Personal Development - The way someone has developed over time and his/her potential development.  Each person’s development is unique with different development styles.  Different personal qualities may either promote or hinder development.  Personal development is a lifelong process.  The development during the formative years has a significant influence on professional development. 

Professional Development – The way someone develops and progresses over time in his/her work. Professional development is influenced by personal development and vice-versa. For the purpose of this assessment, the individual’s general qualities rather than technical skills are assessed. These qualities are very relevant to how a person progresses professionally in any field of work.

Sense of Purpose – Having a clear view of one’s life purpose and commitment to it.  A strong sense of purpose is like a vocation or calling.  A job or occupation is seen as contributing to a bigger cause that benefits others.  Having a clear sense of purpose is strongly linked with resilience and development. 

Perseverance - The ability to carry out continuous deliberate practice, to persist and overcome obstacles.  Each person’s capacity is unique. It can change, grow and develop.  Perseverance is strongly linked to resilience and development.

Ownership (Responsibility) – The capacity to take ownership of one’s life, challenges and development. People with strong ownership take responsibility for themselves in all aspects of life.  They also tend to have a positive outlook.

Growth v Fixed Mindsets – A person’s outlook on change and development can be categorized into growth and fixed mindsets.  People with growth mindsets tend to believe in the possibility of change at the micro and macro levels – from self to society.  They tend to see difficulty as an opportunity.  People with fixed mindsets, tend to believe that change is not so likely.  People with growth mindsets are more likely to persevere and work through difficulties rather than give up.  Growth mindsets are like having an open mind, and fixed mindsets a closed mind.    

Resilience - The capacity to sustain oneself in challenging situations.  The ability to keep on a positive pathway following setbacks.  Resilience is important to continuous positive development.  Sense of Purpose, Perseverance, Ownership and Growth Mindsets all contribute to resilience and development.

Supportive – Demanding Scales - Development is spurred both by demands and support. Demands push, focus and stretch a person, while support encourages and enables.  It is the balance of the two that leads to optimal development.

Our first experiences of development are as an infant.  They are significantly influenced by our parents and other caregivers.  This continues throughout childhood and into adulthood.  The word parent derives from the Latin verb 'parere' – 'to bring forthdevelop or educate'.  Therefore, parenting style has general relevance - to work with clients, colleagues, and teams.  It is likely that a person has a similar approach to others as they do to themselves. By using a horizontal demanding scale and vertical supportive scale, 4 quadrants are created,

  • Supportive-Demanding – S-D
  • Supportive-Undemanding – S-Ud
  • Unsupportive-Undemanding Us-Ud
  • Unsupportive-Demanding – Us-D
Supportive means the quality of nurturing development, through encouragement, concern, empathy and positive reinforcement.  Demanding means having clear expectations, goal setting, constructive criticism, challenging, holding accountable and a focus on improvement.  Research has shown that those who are in the S-D quadrant are likely to achieve the most positive development outcomes.  Through experience and practice it is possible to improve one’s development style.

‘Parenting’ Style, Personal Development – This scale focuses on how a person is likely to approach the development of themselves and others.  It is especially relevant to ‘parenting’ and work with clients.  Developing a high level of competence in this area can support professional development and people management.  The two scales often overlap.

Professional Development, People Management – This scale focuses on how a person is likely to approach the development of adults.  For example, of colleagues or team members. It may also reflect a person’s approach to their own development.  It is especially relevant to progress into management and senior positions.  This area of development can be challenging and usually continues to develop many years into work.

Potential Development - This is the pathway a person may aim for.  Each person’s pathway is different, both in terms of direction and pace.  However, everyone has the potential to develop and grow.  The starting point is knowing where one is and where one would like to get to.  Potential development is usually helped by the support, encouragement, and expectations of others.  One’s own commitment to development and ongoing perseverance are also key.

Development Plan - An individual’s development plan is a way of capturing developmental needs and turning them into focused goals.  The goals need to be relevant to the individual’s developmental and the role that he/she is in.  Individual and organizational goals need to be aligned.  The plan is agreed between the individual and his/her supervisor/mentor.  Usually, a plan looks at the year ahead and progress is reviewed on a regular basis.  At the end of the year, it is fully reviewed, and a new plan created.


Candidate:  Jo xxxxx                                  Assessor:
Organization:                                               Int. No.:         Date:

Assessment Results

Summary: Jo has a strong sense of purpose supported by a positive change mindset. Her sense of purpose and belief in the possibility of change are clearly connected. This positive philosophy is reflected in her own development, responsibility and willingness to take on new challenges. Jo’s perseverance is not quite so strong, and she may lose her focus especially when she feels unsupported. On these occasions, she may appear to take less responsibility for herself.

X ‘Parenting’ Style, Personal Development: Jo has a strong style, which is well balanced between a supportive and demanding approach.  This means that she understands the need for nurture as well as clear expectations.  It is likely that she has a high level of competence in this area and in her work with clients.  This may be due to life experiences and practice in work.

Y Professional Development, People Management: Jo has a good balance between supportive and demanding styles. However, there is room for development in both.  She tends to be more supportive than demanding.  Colleagues and direct reports are likely to find her supportive but may not be fully stretched by her.  A focus on this area helps develop the skills to become a successful manager in a challenging environment.  Because Jo has developed a positive level of overall competency but is not so high on the adult demanding scale there could be a tendency to stay within a comfort zone.

Overall Summary
Jo’s assessment results suggest she is a resilient person with a strong sense of purpose.  She has a change mindset and a positive level of perseverance.  Though there may be a tendency to lose focus.  There may be an avoidance of difficult situations, especially where she perceives that conflict could be involved.  With her strong sense of purpose, she may try to solve problems on her own and over-work. So, there is a risk of excessive tiredness coupled with frustration.  

Overall Jo has achieved positive development and a good level of competency. However, in a management role, she may struggle to have a consistent expectation of others. She may struggle to keep task-orientated and holding people accountable.  Jo’s assessment results suggest she has the potential to become effective in a management position in the next year or so.

Recommendations for Development
1. To further develop Jo will need stretching in her work. She will benefit from a supportive manager who will keep her on task.  Without this, there will be a tendency to drift in her work and development.  

2. As Jo tends to be more supportive than demanding in her work with colleagues, this should be explored in supervision with her manager. It will be helpful for her to identify her concerns and find ways of overcoming her anxiety. 

3. It will also be helpful to monitor and regularly review her tendency to over-work and take too much on herself. 

4. As part of Jo’s development plan, it will help to identify a project where she has to take a lead role with her colleagues. Her progress in this can then be regularly reviewed and worked on. A supportive approach, but also holding her to task will be important helpful.

5. Clarifying her medium to long-term direction will further strengthen her sense of purpose. She is clearly competent in work with clients and could develop as a specialist in this. On the other hand, she also has management potential. Her preferred direction is not clear.