Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Take Personality out of Assessments

I read an article titled, “Assessing Personality” written by Peter Cappelli that appeared online at about the use of personality testing to assess the quality of job applicants and employees has been an on-again, off-again practice – with interest growing recently. But there was a reason the use declined once before.

First, I believe that my personality came from my mother and father. Second, I think the influence that others have had on my life including my mother, father, friends, neighbors, teachers, bosses, colleagues, and experiences have helped me formulate my behavioral style and this style is unfortunately rather predictable. This now enables me to walk down the street with several letters written on my forehead or just one card with the letter “D” taped to my baseball cap.

The assessment world should eliminate personality testing from their vocabulary. The uses of each of the assessments should be defined by its validity, reliability and definition and design for what it measures. The testing of aptitude coupled with behavioral traits might be appropriate in the hiring and selection process if the company is willing to profile the leaders of the organization to develop a profile. This could relate to people development as well. Personality testing might compliment the understanding of the differences in all of us that lead to conflict and communication barriers. So if we focus on team development, improving communication, or relationship building, then let’s look at Personality testing, but only if they are already hired. Orientation to certain competencies or skills may be helpful in determining the potential for liking or disliking a particular profession, job or skill set. Didn’t we take those in the sixth grade to solidify our lifelong career objectives? If you call most of the publishers relating to Personality Tests, they will tell you that their assessment instrument is not indicated for use in the hiring and selection process and certainly cannot predict successful leaders. So how then have we come to believe they are a valuable tool in areas they have no indication?

More importantly then, are there any good predictors for future job performance? The answer is definitely yes but it is a skill that most of us are not very good at. It is called behavioral interviewing. I happen to believe that interviewing skills are the most important competency for a manager that can be learned if they consider interviewing a process and not just an event. It takes planning, organization, a defined skill-set, vehicles to measure the skills needed for your “open” position, and a scorecard to rate the candidate on each of those skills, time, and energy. Don’t hesitate to use any of the tools validated for use in hiring and selection but make sure you incorporate them into a process that takes the “guesswork” out of selection and development. Just work at it and practice…practice…..practice.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What Do Workers Need?

We are starting to focus on the “bottom of the barrel”. In the majority of companies, we have not integrated our business strategies into the culture of our workforce and are not challenging people to learn the skills that will enable them to lead our company long after the disappearance of the baby boomers.

Globally, we are struggling to acquire the employees we need. The demand for workers in the emerging markets like China is outpacing the supply of talent in those areas. The exodus of the “boomers” in the US coupled with the downsizing that occurred in the last fifteen years has left us with a void in talent that is now needed to fill key management positions.

We have not developed the talent that will provide the skills that we will need to achieve our business goals. Linking talent to strategy is something that we must focus on now, not in the future. Companies must focus on their best employees and make sure we give them what they want. We can no longer afford to spend the majority of our time bringing up the “bottom of the barrel”. The top performers in most companies want opportunities for personal development, feedback and positive discipline, and the ability to work with a mentor/coach in a non-threatening environment.

We have to re-energize the “boomers” to become the best teachers of experience and get the younger workers to become the teachers of technology so that the end product will be a high achieving workforce. We have focus on changing behaviors and learn to measure the change…..isn’t that what Human Resources all about?