Author Archives: Susan Rochester

About Susan Rochester

BSc MHRM FIML Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. According to her Harrison Assessment, Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Reports that are job specific, quantified and easy to understand

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International. For a copy of the full report, please email us.

If a behavioural assessment report simply describes the person’s behaviour or personality, each interviewer or interpreter will assign their own meaning to the behaviour or personality trait, usually based on their own bias rather than a formula of job success factors.

This seriously detracts from the benefits of job assessment. The report must be focused on the specific job requirements and provide an overall score related to the suitability of the person’s overall behavioural patterns in relationship to the specific job. This must be such that it is easy to understand and not left to the interpretation of the person reading the report.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Download sample reports here:

Recruitment Package Reports

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   How To Attract

Key points that will help convince a top candidate to accept a job offer

•   Interview Guide

Worksheet with behaviorally-based interviewing questions

Development Reports

•   Development For Position

A development plan for each of two traits that would most improve performance for a specific person related to a specified job

•   Manage, Develop, Retain

Key points to effectively manage, develop and retain selected employee

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Main Graph Report

Overview of trait relationships. Requires expert training to interpret (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Paradox Report

Analysis of paradoxical behaviors (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Summary Keywords

A summary and key word descriptions of the individual’s job-related behavior

•   Traits Definitions

An individual’s scores on all the primary traits listed in order of the highest score and optionally highlights the traits related to the job

Team Reports

•   Group Screening

Compares a group of people to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Team Main Graph

A graphical overview of the relationship between traits for a group of people

•   Team Paradox Graph

A graph showing a group of people plotted against each of the twelve paradoxes

•   Trait Export

An export of all the scores from all the traits for a selected group of people (used for analyzing performance factors or organizational culture)

Career Reports

•   Career Comparison

Compares an individual to the specific requirements of a particular career

•   Career Development

Personalized guidance for an individual’s career development

•   Career Options

A list of careers that would provide the greatest job satisfaction for a specified individual

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Measuring a sufficient number traits in behavioural assessment

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

It is not practical to develop a separate behavioural assessment for each job or even each job type. Therefore, nearly all job behaviour assessments assess people using one questionnaire and then try to evaluate the answers for different jobs. However, our research has shown that less than 25% of the traits measured in a behavioural questionnaire relate to job success for any one job. Therefore, to be effective, a job behaviour assessment needs to measure many different traits in order to have a sufficient number of traits that relate to job success for any one given job. Most behavioural assessments measure only 10 to 30 traits. They try to overcome this problem by measuring norms of different types of jobs. For example, they do research that identifies managers as having certain traits, like “energy” for example. This is merely a distraction from the real purpose, which is to identify the traits that relate to performance. 

There is no benefit to hiring people who fit the profile of an average manager, especially when more than 75% of the traits are completely irrelevant to job performance. I have helped thousands of companies assess employees and I have never had a single customer that aims to hire average employees. They would be very unhappy if they knew that an assessment at best would them to hire average managers and three quarters of what was being considered in the assessment was completely unrelated to job success.

In order to effectively measure job success, job behaviour assessments must measure at least 100 different traits and each job needs to have a formula or template of at least 20 traits that relate to performance. In addition, each trait must have its own formula regarding how different amounts of that trait impact performance. Finally, each trait must be weighted against the other traits according to its impact on performance. That is why the Harrison Assessments system measures 156 traits and is built on a body of research that relates to job performance.

The need to measure more than 100 traits creates a great challenge for job behaviour assessments. Measuring more than 100 traits would normally require more than a full day of testing. However, in this age of talent competition, few qualified applicants are willing to spend a full day for one job application. Harrison Assessments has overcome this problem by creating a high tech questionnaire in which there are 16 groups of 8 statements. In each group, the 8 statements are ranked against each other. In addition, each statement appears in 2 different groups, enabling the computer to cross-reference all of the answers against each other.

By comparing each statement to every other statement on the questionnaire, a total of 8103 comparisons are obtained. This is equivalent to 2,701 multiple choice questions and more than a full day of multiple choice testing!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Media multitaskers pay mental price

Stanford Report, August 24, 2009 by Adam Gorlick

Attention, multitaskers (if you can pay attention, that is): Your brain may be in trouble. People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time, a group of Stanford researchers has found.

multitaskingHigh-tech jugglers are everywhere – keeping up several e-mail and instant message conversations at once, text messaging while watching television and jumping from one website to another while plowing through homework assignments.

But after putting about 100 students through a series of three tests, the researchers realized those heavy media multitaskers are paying a big mental price.

“They’re suckers for irrelevancy,” said communication Professor Clifford Nass, one of the researchers whose findings are published in the Aug. 24 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Everything distracts them.”

Social scientists have long assumed that it’s impossible to process more than one string of information at a time. The brain just can’t do it. But many researchers have guessed that people who appear to multitask must have superb control over what they think about and what they pay attention to.

Is there a gift?

So Nass and his colleagues, Eyal Ophir and Anthony Wagner, set out to learn what gives multitaskers their edge. What is their gift?

“We kept looking for what they’re better at, and we didn’t find it,” said Ophir, the study’s lead author and a researcher in Stanford’s Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab. In each of their tests, the researchers split their subjects into two groups: those who regularly do a lot of media multitasking and those who don’t. In one experiment, the groups were shown sets of two red rectangles alone or surrounded by two, four or six blue rectangles.

Each configuration was flashed twice, and the participants had to determine whether the two red rectangles in the second frame were in a different position than in the first frame. They were told to ignore the blue rectangles, and the low multitaskers had no problem doing that. But the high multitaskers were constantly distracted by the irrelevant blue images.

Their performance was horrible. Because the high multitaskers showed they couldn’t ignore things, the researchers figured they were better at storing and organizing information.

Maybe they had better memories. The second test proved that theory wrong. After being shown sequences of alphabetical letters, the high multitaskers did a lousy job at remembering when a letter was making a repeat appearance.

“The low multitaskers did great,” Ophir said. “The high multitaskers were doing worse and worse the further they went along because they kept seeing more letters and had difficulty keeping them sorted in their brains.”

Still puzzled

Puzzled but not yet stumped on why the heavy multitaskers weren’t performing well, the researchers conducted a third test. If the heavy multitaskers couldn’t filter out irrelevant information or organize their memories, perhaps they excelled at switching from one thing to another faster and better than anyone else.

Wrong again, the study found. The test subjects were shown images of letters and numbers at the same time and instructed what to focus on. When they were told to pay attention to numbers, they had to determine if the digits were even or odd. When told to concentrate on letters, they had to say whether they were vowels or consonants.

Again, the heavy multitaskers underperformed the light multitaskers.

“They couldn’t help thinking about the task they weren’t doing,” Ophir said. “The high multitaskers are always drawing from all the information in front of them. They can’t keep things separate in their minds.”

 The researchers are still studying whether chronic media multitaskers are born with an inability to concentrate or are damaging their cognitive control by willingly taking in so much at once. But they’re convinced the minds of multitaskers are not working as well as they could.

 “When they’re in situations where there are multiple sources of information coming from the external world or emerging out of memory, they’re not able to filter out what’s not relevant to their current goal,” said Wagner, an associate professor of psychology. “That failure to filter means they’re slowed down by that irrelevant information.”

So maybe it’s time to stop e-mailing if you’re following the game on TV, and rethink singing along with the radio if you’re reading the latest news online. By doing less, you might accomplish more

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Key factors in effective job behaviour assessment

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

According to my 20 years experience in job behaviour assessment, there are several key factors that enable a behavioural assessment to effectively predict performance. These include:

  •  The ability of the assessment to measure more than 100 traits
  •  A questionnaire that is work focused
  •  The ability to detect false answers and to pierce self-deception
  •  Performance research that is used to create job success formulas for specific job
  •  Reports that are job specific, numerically quantified and easy to understand.
  •  The ability to weight and integrate eligibility score and job behaviour assessment scores.

Next in this series:  Measuring a sufficient number of traits

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Job behaviour assessment compared with personality assessment

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

Personality Assessments have been available for about 60 years. Some of them have obtained a great deal of validation research. However, it is important to understand that they are not actually job behaviour assessments and such validation is not relevant to job performance. In most cases, the validation simply means that the assessment favorably compares with other means of assessing personality.

Many people are fooled into thinking that this large amount of research indicates that they are valid and useful tools for job assessment. In fact, many of those assessments specifically state that the instrument does not predict job performance.

It makes no sense to use an assessment for job selection that was never designed for the workplace and has no ability to predict job performance. Some people say that they can effectively use personality assessments for employee development. However, this also makes no sense. The main point of employee development is to improve performance and if an assessment does not measure the factors that relate to job performance, how can it significantly help to develop employees?

Next in this series: Key factors in job behaviour assessment

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Overcoming ‘interview infatuation’

When I met Matthew Farrell, Principal of Five Pillars Financial Planning, he was in the process of selecting a new financial planner to support the growth of his business.

business man closeupMatthew was impressed with a candidate but confided that one of the traps he’d fallen into in the past was loving someone at the interview, only to find they didn’t live up to expectations on the job.  This is a familiar scenario, especially when faced with a charming and enthusiastic interviewee.

To ensure he didn’t make the same mistake this time, Matthew decided to use Harrison Assessments to determine the candidate’s suitability for the role.

Matthew was keen to:

1.   Have a quick answer and
2.   Ensure the candidate had traits that met the specific requirements of the business.

Within 24 hours of our first conversation, Matthew had the result he needed and within 48 hours, the candidate had been offered and had accepted the role.  This is how we did it:

1.   After the first meeting, we sent the candidate a ‘questionnaire invitation’ so that he could complete the online assessment overnight.
2.   We sent Matthew a draft job template for him to consider.
3.   Next morning, Matthew and I discussed the template and I made adjustments to the template online.
4.   The candidate had completed the assessment so we were able to immediately run the  reports, comparing him to the customised template.
5.   Matthew and I discussed the reports and the candidate’s suitability straight away.

We asked Matthew to comment on his experience of using the Harrison Assessments:
“I was looking for an objective assessment tool that took away the temptation of me being swayed by the candidate’s pleasing personality and charm. I wanted to know if the candidate possessed the internal qualities required to perform in the position.

We had always tested for aptitude or the ability to perform the technical aspects of the position but we lacked a process to tackle the question of whether the prospective candidate had the disposition or personal qualities necessary to thrive in their new role.”

TIP:  Don’t let your heart rule your head!  Get some objective advice before you make decisions about the people in your business.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Using interviews to assess job behaviour

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

handshakeIn the past, interviews have been used as the primary means assess attitude, motivation, and job behaviour. However, even if interviewers are extremely intuitive, there are many reasons why accurately assessing job behaviour with a normal interview process is nearly impossible.

1. Interviewers do not have access to a real behavioural success formula. There are dozens of behavioural factors that either promote success or inhibit success for any one job. Interviewers rarely have access to a job formula that identifies the behavioural success factors, weights the success factors against each other. And formulates how different levels of these success factors impact job performance

2. Even if the interviewer has access to such a formula, the interviewer would need to accurately assess specific levels of each applicant’s behaviour for each of the job success factors.

3. Some people are skillful at being interviewed. However, being skillful at an interview usually does not relate to job success and therefore it often confuses them into thinking that such skillfulness will relate to job success.

4. The interviewee aims to tell the interviewer what he/she thinks will be viewed as the best response. The interviewer aims to determine how much of what the person is saying reflects genuine attitudes and behaviour and how much is related to just trying to get the job. This in itself is extremely difficult to resolve in the short period of the interview.

5. Interviewers are biased. Research clearly shows that interviewers routinely give favorable responses to people who are similar to themselves, and less favorable responses to people who are different from themselves. In the end, the result is very likely to come down to how well the interviewer likes the candidate rather than how well the candidate fits the behavioural requirements of the job.

Many interviewers claim insights into the personality of applicants and certainly some interviewers are quite perceptive. However, predicting job success is an entirely different matter. It is not sufficient to perceive a particular quality of a person. Rather, the interviewer must be able to accurately assess the magnitude of each of dozens of qualities in relationship to a complex formula of behavioural requirements for a particular job. This is nearly an impossible task without the aid of significant research and tools.

Assessment research shows that interviewing has a moderate ability to predict job success. However, this doesn’t mean that interviewers can predict job behaviour. The moderate ability to predict job success comes as a result of exploring the candidate’s resume, previous experience, education, and job knowledge rather than the interviewer’s ability to predict job behaviour. If you doubt my assertion, I suggest you try the following experiment. Have your interviewers conduct the interview without ever seeing the resume and without discussing past experience, education or skills. Then have them write down their job success prediction. Later, you can compare this prediction to the actual job success. In fact, conducting interviews in this way would be so difficult that I doubt anyone would even attempt it.

Next in this series:  Job behaviour assessments compared to personality assessments

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Assessing suitability

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

For most jobs, suitability factors are about 50% of the job success factors. Therefore, effectively measuring suitability is an essential part of assessment. However, suitability is much more difficult to measure than eligibility. The first challenge is to determine which suitability factors relate to job success for a particular job. However, even when that is determined, assessing job suitability accurately is unlikely unless you can determine how different levels of each suitability factor impacts job success.

For example, you may determine that self-motivation is an important factor for job success for a particular job. But you still need to determine how detrimental or how beneficial each level of self-motivation. In some cases, the more the person has the better. However, for other jobs, a moderate level is enough.

Each level of each factor needs to be scored according to its impact on performance. That is why HA contains significant previous research regarding suitability factors and their impact on performance for different job types and for different jobs. Without this, it is nearly impossible to assess behaviour effectively.

Suitability factors are behavioural and are much more difficult for people to change than eligibility factors. This makes it even more important to accurately assess behaviour during the recruitment process. Most organisations hire people for their eligibility and then try to develop their suitability. And in many cases fire them for their lack of suitability. Since behaviour is fundamentally more difficult to change than eligibility, it is better to hire people who already have the suitability for the job.

To illustrate different aspects of suitability, here are some examples of job behaviour factors that could be relevant to a specific job. These are just a small sample of more than one hundred important suitability factors that could relate to job success.

• What types of things will an applicant or employee accomplish or put off?

• What motivates them?

• How will they communicate, influence and lead?

    • How well they can handle autonomy, freedom and responsibility?

    • How much initiative will they take?

    • How much will they persist when faced with obstacles?

    • How innovative will they be?

    • How much will they accept and respond appropriately to feedback?

    • To what degree will they become autocratic, dogmatic, dictatorial or controlling?

    • How much will they resist change and/or be rigid?

    • What behaviours will they exhibit under stress?

    • How much will they be blunt or harsh in their communications?

    • How much will they tend to be blindly optimistic, impulsive, illogical or easily influenced?

    • To what degree will they avoid difficult decisions?

    • How well will they organise and handle details?

    • How much will they be scattered or chaotic in their approach to projects or planning?

    • How much will they seek to learn, grow and excel?

    • What kind of recognition do they need?

    • As a leader, how well will they provide direction?

    • How well will they enforce policy and standards?

    • How likely are they to steal?

    • How well do they handle conflicts?

    • How reasonable will they be when assessing the value of their contributions to the company?

    "The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
    By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
    "We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
    By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
    "Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
    By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
    "We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
    By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
    "The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead employee and team development sessions."
    By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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