What is a Development Centre?

The difference between a development centre and an assessment centre is that candidates are not in a pass or fail situation. This is reflected in the definition of a Development Centre:

‘A Development Centre is a day or number of days where the participants  are actively involved in the assessment of their own and others behaviours as part of their professional development.’

You will most likely take part in a development centre as you progress from front-line to managerial roles, or from a general role to a more technical or strategic role, often as part of an organisation’s graduate management programme. As a participant of a development centre your preparation will follow the same approach as that for an assessment centre and specific preparation relevant to any internal promotional activity is discussed in greater detail in later chapters. 

The fundamental differences for the participants are:

  • They will actively be involved in assessing themselves.
  • They will be required to assess and give feedback on the competencies of other participants.
  • They are given detailed feedback on their results and what they mean for their future development.
  • They will be expected to ‘own’ the development requirements as part of their Continuous Professional Development.
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    The role of the assessors is focused more on facilitation and identification of the competencies that participants need to acquire or develop. The way in which the assessors score an individual during an exercise will emphasize their developmental needs rather than their competency to perform a specific role. This may alter the nature of the exercises so that the developmental aspects are emphasised.

    The results of these tests will then be discussed and decisions made as to where the main focus of personal development should be. For example,

  • Management,
  • Research, or
  • Technical.
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    If you take part in a development centre, you can expect there to be more emphasis on your abilities to explore or brainstorm an issue or the potential of a situation; rather than simply to display particular competencies. It is important to focus on why you are taking part in such a centre and you may wish to assess your own level of competencies before your development centre.

    Many centres also use a technique called ‘Domain Mapping’. This is where you identify where you want to be in a particular skill or level of knowledge, e.g. become a Senior Consultant. You then work out a staged plan of personal and professional development of how to get there through discussion with your assessor or your peer group.

    Throughout the development centre you will have ‘Evaluation Sessions’ where you will be given feedback on how you performed compared to the competencies of your potential future role.

    Many internal candidates perform below par because they neglect to familiarise themselves with the latest internal policies, procedures and interpretation of the organisation’s mission statement. They also forget to review their personnel file, which will provide important clues as to how their strengths and weaknesses are perceived by others.

    If you want to manage your career within an organisation, then you must prepare for all internal assessment as diligently as you would for any external opportunity.  Many people forget the importance of their preparation when attending internal assessments as they feel there will be no surprises during the process. Experience often shows that these interviews are equally tough and in some ways more challenging than external ones.

    Organisations are obliged to ensure that all recruitment is operated fairly and frequently incorporate ‘Assessment Day(s)’ as part of their internal promotional. 

    You may also be interested in:

    What is an Assessment Centre?
    Who uses the Assessment Centre?
    What are the Different Types of Assessment Centre?
    What Format Does an Assessment Centre Take?
    Who are the Assessors?
    What are Assessment Centre Exercises?
    What is an In-Tray Exercise?
    What is a Presentation Exercise?
    What are Group Exercises?
    What are Role Play Exercises?


    Pass Assessment Center