Friday, March 1, 2019

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



INTRODUCTION The Personal Development Assessment (PDA) is created by Patrick Tomlinson for the purposes of staff 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.

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 a wide variety of professions. It is especially relevant to those involved in demanding and challenging work.  It can also be used by individuals to focus on their own development.     

The PDA 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 is relevant to all levels of position from entry to senior.  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 provide 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 will contribute to significant improvements in,

  • staff retention
  • reduced absence from work
  • staff engagement
  • quality of performance
  • staff development

The assessment areas are informed by research that identify the qualities most associated with strong 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 staff recruitment or development, or both.

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

Feedback Option 1 is most suited to entry level positions where there are many assessments to carry out.
Option 2 This includes the information from Option 1 and 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 both options the feedback reports are emailed to the organization within 1-2 working days of the interview.   

Costs A full summary of costs is available on inquiry, with any other queries to Patrick Tomlinson    Further info @
Organizations can also be trained in carrying out the assessments.

Patrick Tomlinson Brief Biography: The primary goal of Patrick’s work is the development of people and organizations.  Development is the driving force related to positive outcomes - for service users, professionals and organizations.  It is closely associated with general happiness and fulfillment, which underpins successful achievement. 

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 and manager and author of many publications.  He is vastly experienced in staff recruitment, training and development.  He has carried out longitudinal studies and research on staff retention.  With one organization staff retention was improved by 60% and maintained for 5 years. 

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

Personal Development - The way an individual has developed over time and his/her potential development.  Each person’s development is unique with different development styles.  Personal qualities may either promote or hinder development. 

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 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. 

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 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 a 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 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.



This assessment can be used for used for considering the suitability of the candidate for different professional roles. It focuses on the candidate’s character and personal development in terms of,
·       Sense of purpose
·       Perseverance
·       Ownership (Responsibility)
·       Growth v Fixed Mindset
·       Supportive-Demanding scales - approach to development of self and others

The assessment focuses on characteristics that are associated with successful performance and positive development. It can also be used to inform the candidate’s development plan. For a full picture of the candidate’s present capability and potential - this assessment should be considered alongside assessment of the candidate’s professional skillset and capability.   

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. To further develop she will need stretching in her work.  Jo will benefit from a supportive mentor who will keep her on task.  Without this there may be a tendency to drift in her work and development.  

X ‘Parenting’ Style, Personal Development: Jo has a strong style, which is well balanced between a supportive and demanding approach.  This means that the 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.  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 will help 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 and Recommendations for Development: 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 from time to time.  She is well balanced in ‘parenting’ style/personal development.  Jo tends to be more supportive than demanding and especially so in the way she works with adults.

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. Her development and management ability will benefit from a clear plan, with stretch goals and regular review of progress.  A supportive mentor/manager who can also hold her to task and keep her focused will be helpful.  Jo’s assessment results suggest she has the potential to become effective in a management/senior position.


  1. Very educational and informative. Also, not as much filler content as in other Posts I have read about this topic so very nice to see that. Keep it up!

    Read my Latest Post

    1. Thank you Pete, sorry about my late reply. Please let me know if you are interested in finding out more,

      Best Wishes, Patrick

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