Category Archives: Assessments

How can assessments assist low SES students?

This is a question we were asked recently. We are sharing what we found out so you can use it too.

Often students from low social economic status (SES) backgrounds may lack access to the types of career decision-making support that comes from growing up in a family where professional educations are taken for granted. If the students are first-in-family at tertiary studies, they often don’t have good role models to talk with and rely heavily on the university, TAFE or school careers advisers to inform them about what to expect from careers that require tertiary qualifications.

Why would you use psychometric assessments with low SES students?

  • In order to give them an accurate and timely awareness of their workplace preferences and personal strengths, so that they can fully capitalise on their abilities, skills and suitability to their careers so that they can be productive and financially independent as soon as possible.
  • The combination of assessments, career counselling and education allows low SES students to fully appreciate their most preferred career options at an early stage.
  • Providing accurate, objective assessment that matches them against the right career, at the beginning of their careers is the ultimate gateway to help them move out of their current SES grouping.

Why would you use Harrison Assessments in particular?

  • “The system is designed for all levels, including low income students.” Dr Dan Harrison, 3 September 2014.
  • There are no questions in the assessment that could be viewed as discriminating against low SES background.
  • Although we do not collect data for SES when using the questionnaire, data for other factors indicates there are no adverse impacts of the assessment. Harrison Assessments keep a close eye on any potential for adverse impacts in order to ensure EEO legislation compliance.
  • It has been used successfully with students of low SES background in a recent US case study.
  • If required, the questionnaire can be delivered via a ‘simplified English’ questionnaire and/or a pencil and paper test.
  • Harrison Assessments does not measure personality alone. The questions also relate to a person’s interests, preferred tasks and work environment, decision making, management styles, motivations and values, communication, leadership, interpersonal styles and workplace cultural fit.

With many thanks to Patricia Parish, Careers Education Consultant at University of Western Sydney, for her valuable insight in this area.

Do you have any experiences working with low SES background clients that you’d like to share?

We look forward to reading them below.

Why using Myers-Briggs at work Might Be a Terrible Idea (MBTI)

By Jesse E. Olsen, University of Melbourne and Peter Gahan, University of Melbourne The Conversation logo

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is the most popular personality test, boasting millions of test-takers each year. Developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs, the MBTI is based on the ideas of Carl Jung. Upon completion, test-takers are presented with one of sixteen personality types based on four dichotomies: extraversion-introversion (E-I), sensing-intuition (S-N, because “I” was already taken), thinking-feeling (T-F), and judging-perceiving (J-P).

Despite its general popularity, however, the Myers Briggs test is met with seemingly unanimous revulsion among academics (who are probably just sceptical INTPs). We (the authors) like to see ourselves as open-minded ENFPs, but alas, we must own up to our I and T tendencies. While we don’t necessarily meet the MBTI with revulsion, we’re far from impressed. Further, as management scholars, we have reservations about promoting the use of the MBTI in the workplace.

1. The MBTI to make any employment decision Is Definitely a Terrible Idea (IDTI).

Here, we are in full agreement with the test developers’ original intent. According to the Myers-Briggs Foundation:

It is unethical and in many cases illegal to require job applicants to take the Indicator if the results will be used to screen out applicants. The administrator should not counsel a person to, or away from, a particular career, personal relationship or activity based solely upon type information.

The MBTI is meant for developmental purposes, and the 16 types are meant only to emphasise uniqueness, rather than goodness or badness — a lot like a horoscope.

But importantly, research suggests that scores or personality types as measured by the MBTI do not relate to job performance. Employee selection tools should be chosen based on the degree to which they find good employees; the MBTI does not do this — a lot like palm reading or handwriting analysis.

Further, in using personality tests more generally, we have to understand that there are limitations to measuring self-reported personality even with the more reliable instruments, and that situational factors also play a very important role in determining our behaviour.

2. Using the MBTI as a reliable measure of personality Is Probably a Terrible Idea (IPTI).

MBTI results are based on self-reported preferences, which are forced into categories or types. The more reliable tests of self-reported personality — like the Big Five — measure aspects of the personality on more of a continuum, rather than as types.

When we measure many human characteristics — like height, weight, intelligence, and many personality traits – we tend to find that most people fall fairly close to the average and very few people fall at the extremes, forming what is known as a bell curve or normal distribution. What would happen if we choose to represent intelligence as an arbitrary dichotomy – “sophisticated-simple” (“S-I”, because they clearly can’t both be represented by “S”) — rather than as a continuous IQ score? If the average person (who sits around the middle of the distribution, near the arbitrary dividing line) took an intelligence test twice, they’d have a good chance of falling into a different category each time.

Here lies one of the big problems with the MBTI and the reason many people find their type changes when they take it multiple times. Most of us are about average on at least one of the four dimensions, which means that we probably teeter on the edge between two (or more) types. Answer one of the questions differently, and you might fall into a different personality type. This happens about 50% of the time, according to some reports, which should further emphasise the importance of not using the MBTI to make any important decisions.

3. Using the MBTI as a development tool Might Be a Terrible Idea (MBTI).

Using the MBTI in training and development can provide for some fun times at work. People like typologies, and going through the MBTI assessment and feedback process can provide an opportunity for self- and/or mutual understanding.

You may have reasons for spending around $35 per person on an unreliable and invalid test to further self-understanding or think about your career. (We won’t judge; we’re Ps, not Js.) However, we submit that there are plenty of equally unreliable and invalid tests available online for free, or that you might make your own, and that they might even be more fun than the MBTI. Your $35 could instead be directed to satisfying the world’s growing demand for creative ice bucket challenge videos.

So, in sum, the MBTI unreliably, invalidly, and perhaps even inappropriately assigns four-letter labels to test-takers. Of course, if this sounds like your idea of fun, go for it, but we’ll take our $35 to the local pub, for measurably more fun as we assign our own four-letter label to the MBTI.

The ConversationThe authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Before you judge personality tests, consider what they don’t judge

By Nick Haslam, University of Melbourne The Conversation logo

Many job seekers are wary of personality testing. They will accept prying interviews and secretive reference checks, but baulk at having their personalities assessed. A review of studies conducted in 17 countries found personality tests were judged less favourably than most selection tools, disliked almost as much as handwriting analysis.

Personality testing and graphology have their unpopularity in common, but they differ in an important way. Personality tests are valid predictors of performance on the job. A vast body of research shows test scores help to identify who is suited to particular kinds of work and who will do them well.

This conclusion should not be surprising. Personality traits influence all aspects of our lives, and the workplace is no exception. Personality characteristics predict happiness, social attitudes, susceptibility to disease, economic behaviour, relationship breakdown and even longevity.

Success at work is not simply a matter of being able to perform particular tasks. It also depends on motivation and the capacity to handle stress, complexity and the social context within an organisation. Personality traits are especially relevant to this broader context of work. They tell us how people are likely to behave rather than merely what narrow skills they possess.

The ‘Big Five’ traits and their role at work

Most research on personality and work focuses on the so-called “Big Five” traits – conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion, emotional stability and openness. Some of these broad traits are especially useful predictors of work performance and specific work behaviours, both desirable (teamwork, leadership) and undesirable (absenteeism, theft).

The strongest personality predictor of work performance is conscientiousness. The components of this broad trait include orderliness, self-control, dependability and achievement motivation. More conscientious workers tend to be rated higher by their supervisors and show greater commitment to their organisation. They also show less turnover and report greater career satisfaction.

Agreeableness, whose components include trust, altruism and modesty, also makes a difference at work. More agreeable people engage in more good citizenship towards colleagues and fewer counterproductive work behaviours. Work teams with more agreeable members tend to be more effective. In contrast, disagreeable people are especially likely to have interpersonal frictions with co-workers.

Extroversion, whose components include sociability and interpersonal dominance, is only modestly associated with work performance. More dominant people tend to do well in sales and managerial roles, and extroverted people tend to perform better as leaders.

Emotionally stable workers tend to show better overall job performance and job satisfaction than their more neurotic colleagues and are more likely to be effective leaders. They are less likely to procrastinate, engage in counterproductive work behaviour and have fractious relationships with co-workers.

People who score high on openness are imaginative, curious and appreciate ideas and culture. This trait is not strongly predictive of work performance. However there is some evidence that more open people do particularly well in workplaces that foster innovation and creativity.

Numerous personality tests are available to assess Big Five traits. Many tests that purport to measure other characteristics such as emotional intelligence are capturing them instead. Such tests typically pose a standardised set of questions or statements to the test-taker, whose responses are scored mechanically.

In selection settings, where the stakes are often high, it is important that personality tests can detect “faking good”. Test-takers are often motivated to present themselves in a rosy light either deliberately (“impression management”) or inadvertently (“self-deceptive positivity”; essentially everyday narcissism). Test producers have sophisticated ways of identifying invalid responding, and there is ample evidence that tendencies to fake good do not weaken the predictive power of standard personality tests.

Recruiters are also sceptical

Even so, many recruiters and job applicants are sceptical of personality tests. Recruiters often believe that their personal judgement is a sufficient basis for making selection decisions. They sometimes feel reined in by the standardised and mechanical nature of personality tests, preferring informal methods such as employment interviews.

Unfortunately interviews have their own limitations. They are often biased by faking and irrelevant first impressions. The firmness of an applicant’s handshake, the aesthetic qualities of her shoes or a transient sign of anxiety can influence the interviewer’s impressions despite having no bearing on the applicant’s suitability for the job. The predictive validity of interviews is also questionable. Two personnel psychologists summarised decades of research findings when they recently wrote that “an unstructured interview is almost entirely useless as a prediction tool”.

Disliked but fair

Rather than distrusting personality tests, job-seekers should recognise their advantages. Unlike an interviewer, a personality test will not ask you questions that it does not ask other applicants. It will not judge you on how you look, the clothes you wear or where you went to school. Its scores will not be distorted by unconscious biases based on your gender or cultural background. Its findings will not rest on blind intuition or the subjective chemistry of rapport. The mechanical, impersonal nature of personality tests is part of what makes them fair and valid.

Personality is only one factor among many that predict workplace success or failure. Work experience and education, cognitive abilities and skills, aptitudes and attitudes all play a part. However, personality matters and tests that assess it can improve selection decisions.

The ConversationNick Haslam does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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Personality doesn’t tell the whole story, but neither does any other one selection method on its own

If the aim is to predict performance or enjoyment, then many other factors come into play. This is why we choose to use Harrison Assessments.

What have been your experiences with using personality and other tests?

There’s more to personality than a test score

workplace training

By Luke Smillie, University of Melbourne The Conversation logo

Have you ever completed a personality test and felt dissatisfied with your scores? Maybe you’ve quibbled with the low score you received on extroversion – a personality trait reflecting outgoing and gregarious behaviour. Well, fine, you’re not a party animal, but when you are out with your friends you are lively, chatty and enthusiastic. Doesn’t that count for something?

For many people, the idea of a numerical “score” on a personality test seems simplistic. We can’t argue with the feedback from the bathroom scales, but personality is different to weight: it is a description of who we are – and we are complex, dynamic and changeable.

We are different around our friends compared to our romantic partners. We might even feel sure that aspects of our personality have changed at key points in our lives. Can a test score accurately describe any aspect of your personality?

The simple answer – as for many things in psychology – is yes…and no.

We are different people at different times

Personality tests offer broad, reasonably accurate descriptions of what a person is like. Test scores are relatively stable over time. How people describe themselves on a personality test is quite similar to how people who know them well describe them. Test scores also predict important outcomes in our life – from how long we spend at university to how long we spend on earth. So personality test scores do reflect something meaningful and enduring about us.

On the other hand, it is obvious our behaviours and experiences change across time and situations. Optimists experience moments of pessimism, and intellectuals sometimes watch mindless TV. Most people are quiet and reflective when reading a book, but not when attending a music festival. How can this variation be reconciled with a personality test score?

One answer to this comes from research conducted by Wake Forest University’s Professor William Fleeson. He has shown that our various behaviours and experiences form “distributions” of momentary states. While these states can vary dramatically from one moment to the next, over time they tend to cluster around some average level.

For example, you might sometimes behave in an outgoing and gregarious way (like an extrovert) and sometimes in a reserved and quiet way (like an introvert). Nevertheless, you will also tend to spend a majority of your time at one particular point along the continuum.

Consider it what we tend to do, not always do

According to Professor Fleeson, our score on a personality test is a brief summary of what we tend to do, not an absolute indicator of what we always do. A relatively low score on extroversion does not suggest that you are never gregarious and outgoing. Rather, it means that you behave this way relatively less often. And while our behaviour changes from moment to moment, our average levels of a particular behaviour are highly consistent over time.

Going back to the bathroom scales, we can therefore see that our score on a personality test is a bit more like our average weight for a particular year. (And like with personality, we might quibble that our average weight does not fully capture how we are at every point in time!)

If our score on a personality test is a summary of what we tend to do, can we change our personality simply by doing something else? For instance, does an introverted teacher who develops a highly extroverted presentation style, in effect, become more extroverted? This notion captures what Cambridge University’s Professor Brian Little calls “personal projects”.

The ‘me project’

Like projects in any other domain of our lives – to learn Spanish or renovate the kitchen – we often work on projects concerning our personality. We try to be kinder and more patient (“project agreeableness”). We push ourselves to try new things (“project openness”). These projects may often arise in response to new challenges in our lives. For instance, working at the University of Illinois, Professor Brent Roberts found that women who increased their participation in the workforce in young adulthood became more assertive and socially dominant over the following 10-15 years. Such changes may reflect deliberate efforts to survive and thrive in the workplace.

Similar to the idea of personal projects, people flex different aspects of their personality in accord with their current goals. When we want to engage others and hold their attention, we tend to act in a more extroverted way.

Acting in an extroverted way might also help elevate our positive mood levels. Personality psychologists have long known that extroverts typically feel more upbeat than introverts. Recent research from a number of teams around the world, including the University of Melbourne’s Personality Processes Lab, shows these benefits of being extroverted can be reaped simply by acting extroverted. Surprisingly, the boosts in positive mood caused by acting extroverted are just as strong for introverts: quieter, more reserved people enjoy being talkative and enthusiastic too.

Of course, there are limits to how easily we can change. Professor Little suggests an introvert can act extroverted for a short time, but will later need to recharge. Some aspects of our personality are resistant to change. More sensitive, anxious individuals probably get tired of people telling them to stop worrying about things (as if this were a simple choice). Change is possible, but various factors have a stabilising effect on our personality – such as our genetic make-up, which we can’t change. As a result, personal projects can be life-long endeavours requiring constant tinkering.

What we can say with confidence is that personality is a more complex and versatile phenomenon than is reflected in a personality test score. These scores seem like very rough descriptions of what we are like, because in many respects they are. They provide a brief sketch of what we are like overall, on average. They do not capture everything that we are, or everything we might become.

Luke Smillie does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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Introvert or extrovert, normal or abnormal: the problem with personality types

By Nick Haslam, University of Melbourne The Conversation logo

The idea that people can be classified into types has a long history. Writing 23 centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Theophrastus sketched 30 characters that are instantly recognisable to this day. They include the chatterbox, the back-biter, the ungrateful grumbler, the penny-pincher and the patron of rascals.

This ancient attempt to sort people into types reflects the enduring challenge of understanding psychological diversity. As Theophrastus put it:

why is it that, while all Greece lies under the same sky and all the Greeks are educated alike, it has befallen on us to have characters so variously constituted?

More recently, psychologists have proposed an assortment of types. Best known is Carl Jung, who introduced us to the introvert and the extrovert. “The two types are so essentially different,“ he wrote, “presenting so striking a contrast, that their existence, even to the uninitiated in psychological matters, becomes an obvious fact.”

Jung’s work inspired the well-known Myers-Briggs typology, beloved of many consultants but belittled by most researchers. Cleaving humankind with four dichotomies – introverted or extroverted, intuiting or sensing, thinking or feeling, perceiving or judging – it lays out 16 types, each with a unique personality style.

For Theophrastus, the tapestry of human variation was woven from dark threads, his types each defined by a character flaw. For the Myers-Briggs the palette is bright. Each type represents a distinct gift that suits people for positive roles. There is the teacher type, the healer, the performer, the architect, the provider, the mastermind and so on.

Many other types have been proposed. There are physique-based “somatotypes”, such as scrawny, intellectual ectomorphs, and jovial, big-boned endomorphs. There are attachment types that capture differences in how children relate to caregivers, or adults to their romantic partners. There are angry type A and inhibited type C personalities, supposedly at risk of heart disease and cancer.

Non-psychologists have also got in on the act. Muhammad Ali proposed a fruit and nut-based typology, classifying people as pomegranates (hard on the outside and inside), walnuts (hard on the outside, soft on the inside), prunes (soft outside, hard inside) and grapes (soft inside and out).

Muhammad Ali: pomegranate or prune?
Cliff/Flickr, CC BY

The trouble with these proposed personality types is that there is scant evidence that they are, indeed, types. Personality types are kinds of people who differ categorically from one another, just as cats and dogs are kinds of animal. Cats and dogs don’t differ by degrees: there is no continuum from one to the other composed of intermediate cat-dogs. If extroverts and introverts are truly types, like cats and dogs, then any person is either one or the other.

In a review of almost 200 studies examining possible psychological types, my colleagues and I found no compelling evidence that any personality characteristic is type-like. Instead, these characteristics are dimensions along which people vary by degree alone. Extroverts and introverts are not distinct types of person. They merely represent the fiery red and cool blue ends of a personality spectrum.

If personality “types” are not true types then what are they? They are probably best seen as arbitrary regions on an underlying continuum. We can arbitrarily define “tall” as exceeding 1.83m (six feet) in height without believing that tall people are a distinct type. Similarly, an “introvert” is someone who falls towards one end of the introversion-extroversion spectrum.

How we think about personality makes a difference. If we think in terms of types, we place people in categories and use noun labels. The person is “an introvert”, a fact that defines the kind of person they are. If we think in terms of dimensions we use adjectives. The person is “introverted”, an attribute they possess, not an identity that defines them.

Studies have shown that people draw different implications from noun labels and adjectives. When they hear someone labelled with a noun they are more likely to see the characteristic as a fundamental, unchanging aspect of the person. Thinking of someone as “an introvert” rather than as “introverted” leads us to expect them to act in introverted ways always and evermore.

So much for personality type. Might psychological types exist in the realm of mental illness? Many diseases are clearly types: measles is essentially different from mumps, gout and swine flu. Is this also true of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression?

Our review found that categorical types are vanishingly rare in psychiatry. Very few mental disorders are “cat”-like categories. Most fall on a continuum that extends from normality at one end to severe disturbance at the other. A spectrum of milder variants falls in between. Freud wrote that psychoanalysis aimed to turn neurotic misery into everyday unhappiness, and our findings suggest this is just a difference of degree.

Several implications follow if most mental disorders fall on a continuum with normality. First, these disorders tend to be diagnosed as either/or categories, and as if a bright line could be drawn between those who have a disorder and those who do not.

If this assumption is often incorrect, then psychiatric diagnosis should perhaps be done differently, in ways that recognise degrees of severity. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, introduced in 2013, made moves in this direction.

A second implication is that deciding who has a particular disorder is bound to be contentious. If there is no objective category boundary separating normality from abnormality we should not be surprised if people draw a boundary in different or shifting ways. Just as lowering the arbitrary threshold of “tallness” would increase the prevalence of tall people, lowering the threshold for defining disorder can inflate the diagnosis.

This issue also matters for what everyday people think about mental disorder. People who see the mentally ill as categorically different tend to hold more stigmatising attitudes than those who place mental illness on a continuum with normality.

Similarly, those who use noun labels such as “schizophrenics” to refer to people with mental disorders tend to have less empathy towards them, see them as defined by their condition, and view that condition as less alterable.

Despite its long history and continuing appeal, the idea of psychological types is problematic. Evidence for types is lacking and thinking typologically has a significant downside. We need to replace “either/or” with “more or less”.

The ConversationNick Haslam receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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How smart SMEs save time and money with assessments

Killing the business you love

For every business, the pressure is on to hire the right person the first time! But for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), that pressure is so much stronger. There’s not only the cost factor involved,  but also the social factor of how much influence one person can have, especially in a SME.

Finding the right person takes time

…but using assessments will allow you to make a good decision faster. Using an automated recruitment assessment process as a filter at the beginning of the recruitment process can eliminate the need to read every resume received. Your minimum criteria regarding eligibility can be set with respect to qualifications, prior experience and training, so unsuitable candidates will not proceed to the next level. Instead of reading a large pile of resumes, you only have to consider the shortlist of those who ‘can do’ the position.

Part two of finding the ‘right’ person concerns their suitability to the job. Yes they are capable of doing it, but how will they fit with your organisation? Do they really enjoy  the work they are doing? Will they want to do the job well? Today’s technology by way of assessments, can provide reliable data which measures an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and motivations as they relate to a specific job.

Finding the right assessment for your company

When looking for an assessment to use when making your talent decisions, see if the criteria is met with the following questions:

1. Is the assessment job-related?

2. Can the assessment be validated against job performance research?

3. Is the assessment easy to administer (or can you find someone to administer it for you if you are not inclined to do so yourself)?

4. Are the results easy to understand and interpret (for both you and your employee)?

In an organisation where staff numbers are small, there may not be an experienced interviewer or a person available with the knowledge to Identify that ‘right’ person. A good assessment program will also provide tools such as interview guides relevant to the position and selection criteria upon which decisions will be based.  

But what happens after you’ve identified and hired that right match for your business?

How do you keep them for the long run? If the normal time frame for employee retention is two years, what can you do to avoid the same process again in the not too distant future? As with most businesses, turnover needs to be avoided in an SME as it can create a multitude of problems such as there not being ample staff to handle the workload left by the vacancy.

Again, a good employee assessment program such as Harrison Assessments will be able to identify what is important to your new employee – what engages them, what do they need for their long term development and how they will fit in with your business culture.

When all these benefits are measured, it’s easy to see the return on your initial investment on an employee assessment program. You have the ‘right’ person skill-wise and organisational culture-wise … and you can feel a bit more secure that it’s unlikely you will be repeating the process for that position any time soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using Harrison Assessments to develop staff

workplace training

In our experience, a well-planned combination of tools and activities gives the best outcomes when coaching and training employees.

Here’s an example where Harrison Assessments was used as part of an integrated approach to staff development.

How could you use an integrated approach to staff development in your organisation?

New products from Harrison Assessments

Agile Culture

We are thrilled to announce:

  • The Career Navigator
  • The Succession Planner

Dr Dan Harrison and his team are upgrading the Harrison Assessments HATS system this month to include these new modules.  There will also be updates to the questionnaire and the standard Job Success Formula library of over 6000 templates. Click here to download a summary of the changes: Harrison Assessments New Release Sept 2013

Here is a brief explanation of the new assessment products and talent management tools soon to be available in your HATS system at no extra charge:

CAREER NAVIGATOR

This is an interactive career system that has been added to the current Career Module.  This means that now when you send a questionnaire invitation to a client you have the option of linking their results to their own Career Navigator account.

The client can log into their Career Navigator account to run their own reports and view much more information about careers than previously available in HATS reports.

And you’ll notice that the reports have been updated to be more focused on career satisfaction with an additional 19 ‘interest’ and ‘employment preference’ traits.  HATS administrators will still be able to log into their clients accounts to see the results and run reports for coaching purposes.

The Career Navigator will make it much easier for career professionals, schools, universities, and employment organisations to give their customers access to the accuracy and vast amount of valuable employment information only found in the Career Module in HATS.

SUCCESSION PLANNER

The Succession Planner is an internal job succession tool for employees.  Companies can invite their employees to compare their work preferences (HA questionnaire) against any number of internal jobs included in the Succession Planning module.

Applications are linked to the recruitment campaign module which includes external applicants (if desired) and ensures a transparent, fair and performance based selection process.

The Succession Planner helps companies retain talented and committed employees and is a great resource for HR professionals.  It means employees have the benefit of applying for jobs they know they are already suited to, and may even consider a change in career direction with confidence.  It is also a valuable tool for company restructures and mergers.

For more information on what these changes mean for you, please contact us.  We look forward to answering your questions!

It’s not all about the money

hiring

The recently released Hay Group Australian Salary Movement Index report has some interesting things to say about the basics of finding good staff – and keeping them:

The research reveals that organisations wishing to have higher engagement among employees and lower turnover should focus on getting these five fundamentals right.

1. Confidence – in the organisation and its leadership, providing clear direction ‐ line of sight ‐ and
support

2. Development – ensuring clear pathways for career development and progression are in place and communicated

3. Selection – ensure you are selecting the right people for the right job in order to maximise employee contribution and minimise turnover costs

4. Reward – fair (internal and external) recognition of both monetary and non‐monetary methods,
ensuring it’s a good fit for the organisation

5. Enabling employees – giving people what they need to do a good job, and an environment that is
positive and one that fosters innovation and creativity

How do you apply these basics in your organisation?

A (very) simple guide to business productivity

We’re all busy, so here’s some quick advice on how to get the most from your staff!  Of the millions of words written about productivity, there are really just three things you need to remember.

For your employees to work the way you’d like them to, they need:

1.  Something to believe in

  • What are your core values, vision, mission and goals?
  • How have you communicated these to your team?
  • Can they see a connection between your plan and their future?

Your strategic plan describes the game.

2.  Best job fitness
In my experience, productivity and performance issues are often the result of ‘square pegs in round holes’.  This is a perfect time to reassess the fit of key people within their teams.  If you have identified individual strengths, you’ll be able to make the most of them.

Sometimes, this may result in more training or restructuring, or it may simply lead to the shifting of some tasks between people.
With the right people in the right positions, you can be confident you have built a winning team.

3.  Knowledge of what they’re supposed to be doing
Your organisational chart, policies, procedures, job descriptions and employment contracts are the rules of the game.  As with any successful team, training and coaching are ongoing.

Also let employees know how their role fits into the wider picture of the work that is done in your organisation.  Are they fully aware of the consequences for the business of their excellent (or poor) performance?

By putting in a little extra effort on people management, you can make huge productivity gains. If you would like some help with this, please click here.

What have you tried to improve productivity in your business?

Warning: 13 lies applicants will tell you to get the job

trust

We tell potential employees what we want.  We shouldn’t be surprised if they bend the truth to fit our requirements.

Although slightly ‘tongue in cheek’, the following list is based on actual recruitment experiences in real workplaces.

1. I’m self-motivated

…I applied, didn’t I?

2. I have excellent communication skills

…just don’t read my CV too closely.

3. I have industry experience

…not necessarily in this industry.

4. I love a challenge

…as long as it’s one I choose.

5. I’m very flexible

…so long as I can be out of here by 5.15 every day.

6. I believe in excellent customer service

…if I’m the customer.

7. I’m well organised

…in fact, I can spend all day tidying my desk and sorting my emails.

8. I can juggle priorities

…you’ll notice how I have Facebook and YouTube open at the same time.

9. Money isn’t important to me

…as long you pay me what I think I’m worth.

10. I’m a team player

...oh, you mean at work?

11. I work independently

…as long as I can go around asking everyone else for help.

12. I’m innovative

…just tell me what you want and I’ll Google it for you.

13. I have great interpersonal skills

…but please don’t ask me why I left my last job!

Too cynical? Too harsh?

If you’ve been caught out by any of these statements from a prospective employee, the good news is that there are independent ways to assess every one of  them – if you’d rather get the full picture.

Of course, you may agree or disagree!  I look forward to reading your comments.

Not everyone wants to learn, you know…

Have you ever tried training someone and felt like you were getting nowhere?

This was one of my early HR lessons: We can’t assume everyone wants to learn and develop their skills.

In some workplaces and some roles, you will find people who just want to get on with the job they were employed to do. They may even see training as an added imposition from the employer, rather than an opportunity to grow their skill set.

Sometimes, they will be learning in another area of life, perhaps a hobby, that is more fulfilling to them. Work is just the means to earn the money to fund what really matters. For them, work is not a way to grow. Work provides for their basic needs so they can grow in other areas.

If you value life-long learning it can be a challenge to see this perspective. Even more challenging if you are the manager of someone with this attitude – especially if you’ve hired a person for their cultural fit, confident that through training they will acquire the skills they need.

How does it happen?

Part of the difficulty is that this lack of motivation to learn is not always apparent or articulated. Imagine the salesperson who is not meeting budget but continues to believe they are doing all they can to bring in the business. When their manager suggests making changes, the salesperson pushes back, blaming the market, lack of support and other causes rather than reflecting on what they could learn that would improve their performance.

The salesperson above is likely to be quite self-accepting, feeling good about themselves. This is how we want a salesperson to be. On the other hand, the self-acceptance needs to be balanced with a recognition that they can still improve but developing further. If the desire to become better at what they do is absent, the result is a tendency to respond defensively to constructive feedback.

Have you tried to manage someone like this? 

Would it be useful for you to know why they act in this way?

We can help you find out – even before you hire someone – and prevent the frustration you feel. Contact us for more information.

 

 

"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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