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June 25

We Can Accommodate Your Assessment Competency Requirements (Part 2)

This level is for large organisations where 50 or more employees are in one department.

“The second level is much more objective. The decision makers do not have to rely on their own judgment about what is required. In this process the characteristics of the performers most likely to succeed and fail in that particular environment are identified objectively and assessments are built on the basis of this analysis. This is a more empirical approach.”

“Many assessment companies attempt to find fit by measuring just the high performers, probably attempting to “clone” success. This can be seriously misleading. For one thing, as mentioned above, even if this would produce a legitimate success profile, it would not guarantee success, given the effect of success-blocking environmental factors.”

“For example, in one financial firm, I found that both high and low performing groups were unconventional thinkers and were not attentive to rules. If the competency provided in the report were that general, no difference would be found. However, as we go deeper, it was discovered that the top group used this unconventionality to generate creative solutions for the client. The bottom group used it to get around rules.”

This turned out to be one of the key discriminators of the two groups. In that case, if I rejected anyone who was non-compliant, I would miss some good potential employees. On the other hand, if I were hiring for a position requiring innovative thinking, and hired just on the basis of unconventionality, I could be hiring those who might get the organization into trouble with regulators, an expensive proposition even if they didn’t get terminated.

Let’s look at a few other examples of general versus specific competencies. In the same financial firm, another differentiating competency dealt with attention to customers. Both were sensitive to customer’s needs, but the top group used this sensitivity to evaluate both positive and negative dimensions of the customer’s needs. In the bottom group, this sensitivity prompted a fear of addressing uncomfortable issues with the customer. In addition, both groups had strong commonsense ability and focus on results. But the top group used it to see how to get things done and the bottom group used it to focus so much on results that they overlooked future effects of those results.

Moreover, both groups had strong persistence, but top group used it to stay on track and complete tasks in a reasonable way, while the bottom group used it to make unrealistic commitments. It should be clear from these examples that general interpretations will not go far enough. Sometimes it’s more than a matter of both groups having a general characteristic that differs in its specificity. For example, notice the competencies characterizing these two management groups in a large international insurance company. If you look carefully at these lists, you will see a common theme through each group, but a different one group to group. That is, the top group exhibits a creativity, efficiency and effectiveness that is not present in the bottom group. Moreover, the bottom group exhibits a hesitancy to make decisions that is not in the top group. Yet, oddly enough, from the outside these differences might not be apparent, for the top group does take time to look ahead and be inventive. The bottom group, on the other hand, can seem to be reasonably reflective but are really being indecisive and hesitant to push forward. Again, it is important that distinctions between groups be very specific in order to capture the actual differences between the groups. If the consultant is to assist the decision maker in avoiding a bad hire, it is critical to provide information that will enable an identification of the actual competencies that are not able to be managed in that environment.

Only axiology’s laser sharp assessment the Thinking Pattern Profile™ can generate this information. And only very specific interpretations will adequately describe the result. Wayne Carpenter, for example, has spent decades perfecting these equations, integrating individual measurements of the Manual of Interpretation, and building complex decision trees reflecting the effect of one score on another. It is this kind of specificity that will surface relevant performance indicators.

When analyses like those described above have been done, it is assumed that the findings will be applicable to the same position in other organizations. This is not the case. In a sense, when we identify the complex of characteristics that describe the low performers, we are implicitly measuring a reflection of the culture of the organization. We have found that even different Strengths in the

Top Group not in Bottom Group

  1. Takes time to be creative and inventive.
  2. Pays attention to doing the right thing
  3. Inventive and aware of critical issues
  4. Sets realistic standards and expectations
  5. Attentive to consequences of solutions
  6. Thinks ahead about problems and solutions
  7. Tracks the success and failure of decisions
  8. Inventive thinking without losing perspective

(Items are in priority order, strongest strength at the top.)

Problems in Bottom Group not in Top Group

  1. Does not stick by decisions.
  2. Does not keep communications clear and to the point
  3. Does not make decisions with confidence
  4. Fails to maintain a strong sense of direction and purpose
  5. Does not make commitments they can/are willing to keep
  6. Fails to keep word and personal commitments
  7. Does not reinforce personal commitment to do one’s best
  8. Does not promote confidence to take risks

(Items are in priority order, strongest problem at the top.)

Not surprisingly, different geographical areas, yield different sets of characteristics that discriminate. Thus, a report that has been developed for one organization should not be used for another organization, even for the very same position. It may be that the problems low performers have in one organization can be well managed in another organization. Indeed, that is shown to be the case.

One has to be realistic about predictability. It is tempting to predict success, but as I mentioned early in this article, there are factors that can derail even the most competent candidate. A proprietary 5 year longitudinal study shows an 80- to-90% success rate in identifying bad hires, and in some environments even 100%. Avoiding eight to nine bad hires in ten is not at all bad, given the cost of a bad hire and the volume of candidates many hiring managers have to consider. This certainly confirms the value of Carpenter’s work on this process. Thus, as Wayne and Steve Healy at Axiometrics® International insist, we are looking at, not prediction, but protection with the Thinking Pattern Profile™.

That is where the economics of selection are the strongest. When we can assure a decision maker that we can protect from a bad hire, we are offering a very high level of assistance, all the while giving him good information to make his own decision.

It is extremely critical, even with the most accurate relevant information such as that described above, to let the decision maker make the decision. Only then can responsibility for hiring—and ultimate development of the candidate as needed—rest where it belongs.”

Author Dr. K. T. Connor, Center for Applied Axiometrics http://applied-axiometrics.com