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What Raters Look for in Subordinate Counseling/Employee Problem Exercises

By Kim Alyn

Have you ever wondered what you’re being rated on when you do a subordinate counseling exercise in an assessment center or a promotional process? Raters are given guidelines for scoring candidates based on how the candidate performs.
Candidates that score the highest usually exhibit the behaviors/traits below that raters are looking for:

  • Maintains control of the meeting
  • Is able to identify and address the main issue(s)
  • Stays courteous and respectful to the role-player
  • Appears organized in the approach
  • Has a method for discipline (if discipline is needed)
  • Recognizes discipline is not always needed (sometimes coaching is needed)
  • Directs the role player to EAP when appropriate
  • Addresses the concerns of the role-player
  • Shows effective communication skills by leading a two-way discussion
  • Listens effectively to the role player’s side without cutting him/her off
  • Makes consistent and friendly eye contact
  • Uses a calm tone of voice and friendly body language
  • Discusses how the role player’s actions/decisions affect the whole crew
  • Gets a commitment from the role player to change behavior
  • Shows compassion towards role player
  • Focuses on steering the role player back to the values of the dept.
  • Establishes an action plan to correct issues
  • Demonstrates a willingness to follow up on action plan
  • Uses positive influence to get the role player to buy-in to the solution (doesn’t“strong arm” the role player or try to intimidate him/her)
  • Exercises self-control and doesn’t lose patience
  • Involves the role player in the process of developing solutions
  • Demonstrates good command presence with confidence and courtesy
  • Explains to the role player his/her leadership philosophy/style
  • Uses time effectively (doesn’t go over time limit)
  • Asks questions of the role players to ensure he/she gathers all the necessary facts and information
  • Demonstrates approachability
  • Demonstrates strong leadership skills

Candidates score in the lower categories and even fail when they exhibit these behaviors/traits:

  • Lets the role player dictate the flow of the meeting
  • Demonstrates poor listening skills (interrupts, interjects, is defensive, etc.)
  • Shows a lack of comprehension of the issues.
  • Does not take responsibility for what he/she should
  • Demonstrates a low level of confidence and command presence
  • Is too cocky/arrogant
  • Jumps to conclusions without gathering information
  • Appears disorganized and unprepared
  • Allows the meeting to run too long or too short
  • Takes the side of the role player against management or the chief
  • Lets the role player get off track with the real issues (and stays off track)
  • Does not take corrective actions
  • Does not administer discipline (if needed)
  • Does not recognize the importance of leadership
  • Fails to recognize need to be a mentor, coach, and role model
  • Is hard to understand (talks too fast, mumbles, talks to low, etc).
  • Demonstrates too much nervousness
  • Keeps repeating himself/herself
  • Has aggressive body language
  • Comes across as pushy and hard to follow as a leader
  • Comes across as too passive or a “push-over”
  • Will not take a stand for the mission, vision, and goals of the dept.
  • Shows defensiveness and an inability to take responsibility
  • Demonstrates rude behavior
  • Raises voice at role player
  • Lets the role player continue to make excuses for behavior
  • Lets the role player roll over the top of him/her
  • Is not viewed as someone people could follow as a leader


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