With Test-taker’s NeuroPsychoanalysis Profile Serving as Inputs
In his book, Right PersonRight Job, Chuck Russell wrote: “Core personality is made up of traits that have been conditioned over many years. Such traits are critical inassessing a candidate’s ability to perform virtually any aspect of any job” (1). AlbertEinstein once said you cannot solve problems with the same kind of thinking that youused to create them (2). If you keep on doing what you have always done, you will keep on getting what you have always gotten.
Organizations and businesses spend an enormous amount of time and money in a never ending effort to train, coach, motivate, or develop marginalv employees to a level of performance that is merely adequate. In organizations andbusinesses throughout the world, there are people who are not performing at the levelsexpected. At some time or another, virtually every person has been in a job that was notright for him or her. All the same, organizations hired each of these people with carefulthoughts and positive expectations. Most people took those same jobs with everyintention of succeeding.It is very difficult and expensive to train your way out of a bad hiring decision.
The process by which individuals are selected is clearly the most critical and controllable variable in the development of a productive and successful work team. However,traditional selection methods have several limitations for the accurate understanding ofpeople and their performance. Traditionally, organizations have viewed people and their performance within the context of ability.
Those with lots of ability can do almost anything well, and those with less are often assigned to jobs in which they won’t cause significant damage. This type of thinking supports the belief that education, experience,training, and more training will enhance ability and, therefore, performance. If a person with perceived ability does not perform well after being trained, his or her problem is assumed to be motivational.
CORNERSTONES OF JOB PERFORMANCE
In reality, three factors may have impact on a person’s ability potential: attitude(organizational match); technical competence (skills match); and cognitive ability,personality structure, and interests (job match). Organizational Match Organizational match is the degree to which the candidate’s attitudes, values, ethics, and grooming fit those required by the job position.
Face-to-face interviews are typically used to evaluate these things. Being honest, drug-free, and not prone to hostility are alsoimportant factors, and are usually determined by use of various paper-and-pencil,electronic, and chemical tests, as well as by background check, and experience-based observations of a well-trained interviewer are invaluablein assessing certain qualities of attitude and match with an organization’s culture. Thereare problems, however, with relying wholly on the face-to-face interview process.
One such problem, the halo effect, occurs when the interviewer sees a part of himself or herself in a job candidate. The interviewer may focus on a common experience, part ofgrowing up, school, or some other aspect of background that he and the applicant share.A similar personality characteristic in the interviewee could generate a positive feeling of recognition within the interviewer.
This self-recognition generates a “halo” that can cause a relatively mediocre candidate to glow with merit. On the other hand, another potentialpitfall of the interview process is the unconscious bias, which is the opposite of the haloeffect. The more a candidate is different from the interviewer, the more conscious effort is required on the interviewer’s part to regard the candidate in a positive or neutral light. This is a fundamental characteristic of being human: when a candidate appears to be different in some way, there is always some effect. This effect may be large or small,good or bad. The important thing is that interviewers recognize the subjective nature offace-to-face interviewing.Unfortunately, outstanding verbal and communication skills during an interview or their opposite, lackluster responses do not necessarily translate into job performance,just as the ability to talk knowledgeably about baseball and look good in a uniform would not necessarily translate into the ability to throw or hit a 95-mph fastball.Skills MatchSkills match is the degree to which a candidate’s educational background, technicalskills, previous job experience, and particular expertise matches those required for theposition. There are many job positions that demand specific sets of knowledge ortechnical skills. Research has shown that people charged with selecting for thesepositions are often tremendously biased toward thinking that expertise highly important.On a broader scale, one of the common hiring myths is that highly intelligent people cando anything. Job match research has proven that people actually perform best when they are fully engaged by the challenges of a job.
Unless highly intelligent people are provided with a steady source of intellectual challenges, they may not only become poor performers, but may even become counterproductive.If organizational match or skills match, or both, are unsatisfactory, improvement ofan individual’s long-term job performance with training or coaching is almost impossible.Job MatchJob match is an integral part of a candidate’s actual on-the-job success. Job match refers to how well an individual’s cognitive abilities, interests, and personality traits match those required for success in a particular job.
To illustrate, let’s paraphrase the parable“Let the Rabbits Run,” from the book Soar With Your Strengths (3):There were several young animals in the forest: a duck, a fish, an owl, an eagle, a squirrel and a rabbit. Each told his parents he wanted to go to school to improve. The parents thought this was a good idea. They enrolled the young animals in a school with a curriculum of running, jumping, swimming, tree climbing, and flying.On the first day of school, the little rabbit got up early to be in school on time.He brushed his teeth, combed his hair, ate his breakfast, and went to school withhigh expectations and excitement. His first class was running. He did great! Histeacher told him he was a wonderful runner, and he got an A+ and his self-esteemgot a boost.The next day, the little rabbit went to jumping class. Again he did very well,received compliments from his teacher, and got an A+ and a boost to his self-esteem. The day after that, the little rabbit went to swimming class. He wasn’tvery good at it. His teacher said he didn’t do very well at swimming, gave him alow grade, and told him he had to learn to enjoy being wet. His self-esteemsuffered. The little rabbit was determined to succeed. For two weeks, the rabbittried as hard as he could, but he just couldn’t get the knack of swimming. Hebecame discouraged and began to lose interest in school. The rabbit was called to the principal’s office with his parents. He was toldthat he was failing swimming class. As a remedy, the principal and the littlerabbit’s parents decided that he would be taken out of the running and jumpingclasses (because he could already do these things so well) and instead would beassigned to three swimming classes each day. The little rabbit tried to improvehis swimming, but eventually became totally discouraged. When he was told that flying classes were next, he dropped out of school.
“Let the Rabbits Run” illustrates what happens when managers try to train their people for tasks or skills that are foreign to who they are. Knowing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, a manager can amplify (on the job) that person’s strong points while minimizing (or avoiding) weak areas, thereby helping build the employee’s self-esteem and increasing his job performance.
A manager who hires a person without a natural job match and thinks he can overcome the new hire’s shortcomings with training might as well be trying to train a rabbit to swim instead of hiring a fish. The degree to which a candidate’s cognitive abilities, interests, and personality fit those required by a particular position determines the degree of job match. People fail ina job not because they can’t do the job, but rather because they don’t match the job.
Cognitive abilities are factors such as how quickly a person learns and what type of learning is most effective.
In a business sense, this is a far more useful measurement than what is generally called intelligence. It is critical to match an employee’s cognitive abilities with those required for the job. For example, exceptionally fast problem solversthrive in a challenging environment. When placed in relatively routine situations, thesesame people quickly become bored, resulting in low performance or unexpected turnover.In comparison, slow learners become frustrated in environments that do not allow sufficient time to assimilate key information about the job.
Whether a person has an interest in or preference for working with people, data, or thingsis important. An individual may be capable of performing certain tasks, but may not beinterested in those tasks. If that is the case, the person will probably not perform thetasks well for very long.
Personality of the candidate consists of measurable characteristics of behavior thatdetermine how an employee will behave in particular situations. Core personality ismade up of traits that have been conditioned over many years. Such traits are critical inassessing a candidate’s ability to function as part of a team, ability to close, ability tomake decisions, ability to handle customers, and ability to perform virtually any aspect ofany job.Understanding organizational match, skills match, and job match is integral tounderstanding job performance. Each is a necessary part of any hiring or performance-enhancement decision. The idea of predicting job performance through the use ofassessment tools has long been a dream of the business world, and until recently, anelusive dream. With the advent of fifth-generation assessment tools, organizations andbusinesses now have an instrument that offers remarkable accuracy and reliability,enabling information to be used in a number of applications that were not possible witholder technologies. If management can acquire better information on people, it willinevitably make better decisions.
First-generation assessment tools have two fundamental problems: they are easy to fakeand they are ipsative (describing tendencies without using any point of reference).Second-generation tools add some evaluation elements that are normative (usingestablished units of measure), but most are still ipsative. Third-generation tools offer vastimprovements; however, the normal manager cannot use them because they must beadministered by licensed psychologists, and further, they contain questions that legallycannot be asked of employees, or on job applications. Fourth-generation tools domeasure cognitive skills and personality characteristics; however, the fact that theirvalidity base was developed in 1972 causes significant validation errors when currentapplicants and employees are measured for the twenty-first century. In addition, severalscales in the mental abilities section measure crystallized knowledge (specific knowledgethat is dependent on cultural environment and education) versus fluid knowledge(fundamental reasoning ability independent of specific content).Fifth-generation assessment tools, which produce quantified scales (normative) and valuate the total person, can be used accurately and effectively by non-experts to generate job patterns. Developed in compliance with legal requirements of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, fifth-generation instruments can also serve to document nondiscriminatory hiring practices. Fifth-generation tools measure.
•Mental abilities (cognitive can the person do the job?),
•Interests ( is the person interested in doing the job?), and
•Twenty-four personality factors. (Does the person have what it takes to do the job and does the person fit the organization’s culture?)
USING JOB MATCH ASSESSMENTS WITH EXISTING EMPLOYEES
Have you ever worked with someone whose performance was not what you expected?Today, job match assessments can tell you why that happened and whether it can bechanged. The accuracy of higher-generation assessment instruments has createdextraordinary possibilities for analyzing and understanding the performance of existingemployees.
Almost all managers or supervisors know who their best and worst employees are. What they generally do not know is why people hired by the same methods, doing the same job, and managed by the same person perform so differently. For centuries,businesses and organizations have relied on observation, opinion, and emotion to solvetheir people problems. At the same time, system solutions were based on objective data,quantified data, and common frame of reference.
Modern assessment instruments can provide this same level of data about people.The concept of the three cornerstones of job performance for selecting newemployees is also essential to understanding the performance of existing employees. Inthe case of successful current employees, job attitude is a more precise terminology thanorganization match. Successful current employees typically have a can-do attitude andbelieve in the value of the contribution of each employee. They are positive andenthusiastic and are happy with their work place. Many factors affect this attitude, suchas organizational leadership, work environment, and personal issues.If job attitude is the only problem within an organization, motivational programs can work well toward improving performance. If, however, there is a more fundamentalcause reducing performance, motivational programs can prove to be expensive andfrustrating.The second part of the puzzle of existing employees’ performance is skills match.Well-constructed training programs may have a tremendously positive effect on skillsmatch. The difficulty arises when training is viewed without consideration of job match.Job match, as described earlier, is the degree to which the employee has the cognitiveabilities, interests, and measurable personality traits that are necessary to perform the jobsuccessfully. When job match is determined prior to training, the most effective trainingprogram is usually clear. The critical point is that unless job match is known, the besttraining is a hit-or-miss proposition: it can be frustrating for the employee and expensivefor the organization.
Team Engineering Versus Team Building
Personality assessments have been used for team-building exercises since the first half ofthis century. Often four personality types are identified: dominant, influencing, stable,and compliant, or driver, expressive, amiable, and analytical. Other assessments mayidentify eight or nine types. All of these typing methodologies are based on behaviorism,or behavioral style theory, a concept that is no longer supported in mainstream psychology. Team-building exercises based on these four quadrants, however, can be often very productive. The concepts are simple and easily understood. The construct isvalid and accurate. The exercise normally does a superb job of describing each type and how each type relates or communicates with other types. The problem is that there is noaccurate way for these instruments to sort people into types. It is unlikely that just four sizes fit all. The most recent generations of assessment tools incorporate a total picture of cognitive abilities, interests, and personality. All of these factors play key roles in teaminteraction. More importantly, these newer instruments measure a range of discreteelements with considerable accuracy. This enables specific analysis of team fit. It also has the capability to deal with teams that are relatively homogenous or with work teams composed of specialized positions. The level of specificity possible is reflected in the designation of the process as team engineering.
Reorganization or Restructuring
The concept of job match is integral to any plan for reorganizing a work force. Withoutit, the outcome of the process becomes largely a matter of luck or hope. Job matchassessments can be used to statistically analyze both the old system and the newconfiguration. The existing population of employees can then be compared to the newrequirements of job match, and a strategic plan for transition can be developed. Someemployees will fit easily into the new design, others will be phased in with training, andthe ones that cannot make the change can be identified.
Succession planning is basically a matter of an internal selection process. Job matchassessments allow the analysis of an executive’s career path relative to the various jobmatches that are available. Even when experience demands a period of time in a positionof marginal benefit, that analysis enables a temporary adjustment of the expectations ofperformance during that period. This information can also be used to design individualtraining curriculum.It is important to note that the numbers 1 through 10 make up the range of a scale. Aperson’s holding any position(s) on the scale does not imply good or bad about that person. The numbers in the range are used to relate an individual’s match to the requirements of a particular job. Everyone is a good match with some jobs and a bad match with others. In other words, accurate assessment tools do not judge a person good or bad; they only assess whether a person does or does not match the requirements of a particular job.Please note that some of the words used to describe the person’s personality characteristics don’t necessarily mean what you and I usually think of when we use them.Psychologists have their own vocabulary.Once you know the total person, you must be sure you know the job and its requirements. Then you must investigate the qualities a person needs to succeed in that job. You accomplish this by doing a study to determine what kind of person the job requires (organizational Match, skills match, and job match).
Evaluating the top and bottom performers in a job classification is the best basis for performing the study. Think for a moment about a key department in your organization.• Can you identify the top people in the department?• Do you know the bottom people?• Do you know why they are different?Normally, you didn’t hire some of the people to be top performers and others to bebottom performers. However, when a study is made of your top and bottom people, the characteristics that make your top performers different can be identified and made into a job match benchmark for new hires or effective training programs for existing employees.
The job match benchmarks can be customized exclusively for your own organization by job title and by department. A well-designed job match pattern can even take into account different management styles and expectations.The shaded areas indicate the job match pattern for a particular job. Creating patternsis a major step forward for most organizations who do not have the job descriptionsrequired by the Americans with Disabilities Act. These patterns can be customized for all the jobs in your organization, based on the qualities of your people who are already successful and the different management styles of your department heads . The shaded areas are the job match pattern and the black-encircled numbers are the candidate’s score. You can quickly see that all of the numbers are within the shadedareas, indicating a good match. You can tell at a glance if a particular job candidate islike your top performers. You can quickly tell if the candidate is the right match or a miss. Every score doesn’t have to fall into a shaded area in order for a candidate to be a good match. A candidate whose score matches 80 to 85 percent of the job requirementswould be considered a good match. Candidates with scores that match 70 to 75 percent of the job requirements may also prove to be successful with properly structured coaching and training. Again, the shaded areas are the job match pattern and the black-encircled numbers are the candidate’s score. You can quickly see that several of the numbers are outside of thepattern, indicative of a bad match. Candidate scores matching less than 70 percent of the job requirements indicate a poor match.
To further validate the importance of matching people to jobs, the Harvard Business Review published results of a study involving more than 360,000 working people in 14 industries that had both high and low turnover rates. The study’s objective was to examine the effectiveness of traditional hiring practices as a means of filling jobs with productive people. The study concluded: “It’s not experience that counts, or college degrees or accepted factors; success hinges on fit with the job”(8).
Effect of Job-Suitability via Benchmarking on Turn-Over (7)
Clearly, the Harvard Business Review study indicates that if you want to cut your turnover rates and their resultant costs, start matching people to the job. As J. W.Marriott of Marriott Hotels once wrote, “Put the right people in the right job. Train and motivate them, give them an opportunity for advancement, and your company will grow and prosper.”
1. Russell, C. Right PersonRight Job: Guess or Know: The Breakthrough Technologies of Performance Information. Johnson & James Press, Alpharetta,Georgia,
2. Einstein Quotes. Colorado Springs, Colorado,
3. Coates, D. E. Soar With Your Strengths. Delacorte Press, New York,
4. Hogan, J. Employment Tests: History and User Considerations. PRO-ED Press,Texas, 1990.
5. Americans With Disabilities Act Handbook. EEOC and U.S. Department of Justice.U.S. Government Printing Office Press, Washington, D.C., 1991.
6. Duston, R. L. The Effects of the ADA on Employee Selection Procedures. UniversityPublications of America Press,
7. Use of Integrity Tests for Pre-Employment Screening. U.S. Congress. Office ofTechnology Assessment, U.S. Government Printing Office Press, Washington, D.C.,
8. Greenberg, H. M., and J. Greenberg. Job Matching for Better Sales Performance.Harvard Business Review, Vol. 58, No. 5, pp. 128−133.