Saturday, May 26, 2012

Measure for Success not for Seats filled - Are you both eligible and suitable?


Always useful to listen to a creator like Dr. Dan Harrison. The enmeshment of mathematical matrices and psychology of human preferences or tendencies is the Harrisons Assessment Talent Solutions (HATS). This note is to help recall some salient aspects of Dan’s approach. Am glad I had some direct interaction of high quality with him over the past few months. This is from my recent one on May 23, 2012 in Bangalore.

1.       In human assessments, especially for the workplace, two fundamental purposes need fulfillment. They are a) Predict Job Success and b) Inspire Performance. Now while that may seem obvious and ordinary, the uniqueness of such languaging is that values for science through measurement and values for humanism through accurate concern for human beings are both accomplished in HATS without compromise or deception.

2.       Without a method to integrate both prediction and inspiration, we find that the larger picture in relation to an incumbent’s job is lost. Often, we hire for eligibility or what people do, and fire for lack of suitability or for what people eventually become. Quite a shame is that not?
3.       In recruitment and related people management processes, for want of method, the numbers in measurement that business reviews today are the number of seats filled or attrition by some direct cost related demographic. Filling seats does not guarantee capability against competition. The measurements required are that of target role eligibility criteria, and person-job-fit for suitability.
4.       Suitability is more than just personality. Personality includes motivation for the job and attitudes towards it that a person has. Suitability includes personality and work preferences and interests. So, when hiring a person for selling medical equipment, over-emphasis on product or market knowledge may blind us from more determining factors such as self-improvement in a turbulent market.  In customer service roles, almost 70% of weight-age should go to suitability, than to eligibility criteria.

5.       Personality hardly remains stable across cultures. Suitability criteria for jobs or roles hold relatively constant across cultures. Hence, assessments that are job or role centric will yield better outcomes, than assessments on rule of thumb or those that are merely ‘assessment’ centric.
6.       Generally speaking the weightage criteria between eligibility and suitability would be 50:50 for upper management roles, 30:70 for middle management roles and 70:30 for entry level roles.
7.       When recruiting, do the most cost effective steps first. E.g. eliminate ‘spam’ candidates. Specify eligibility requirements in ways that weed out irrelevant applications. Then check for suitability. Until then there is no point interacting with them on a face to face basis. If the applicant is both eligible and suitable, you may then go for work sample tests or aptitude third-party assessments like verbal or numerical reasoning. Lowering your costs means knowing how to configure job success criteria.
8.       To ensure predictability of job success, measure ALL aspects of behaviors, including motivation, interests, personality, work-values and preferences. Missing any one will adversely affect the outcome. Without measuring at least 100 traits or tendencies, the complex construct of personality and suitability will be less robust in measurement.
9.       You’ve heard of the lie-detector. Missing reliable ways to test authenticity of response will lower predictability of assessment. For top or upper management roles, you need at least 90% consistency in response authenticity scores. Generally, you will need at least 75% consistency to predict job success through assessment.
10.    75% consistency in response is required to assure satisfaction on the job.  The gap today is that we do not look for what employees want in a job or role. Go further, and the questions become of what methods do we use to get such data about employees' interests and work preferences?
11.    The valid issue today is how do we cut people from the misery of uninformed choices regarding vocations we pursue? Do we end up cutting people from jobs that will inspire them?


So what is then the best data that will help the world of work today? Is it not data on what will make people succeed on their jobs? Hire for passion, train for skills! 


Develop for relationship and help people uncover their paradoxical constraints.  People develop polarities over time. They can uncover them through the Paradox Technology (TM). I particularly enjoyed Dan's humility when I mentioned of Barry Johnson's approach to Polarity Management. These come handy when coaching my executive clients. Just last week, an entrepreneur wondered at the insights he got, and realized what a sustained process development should be. Development is indeed no trifle either, as I have earlier written.