Time Management Scale – The Utility of ATOMS

time managementThe importance of effective time management skills in the workplace has been highlighted by issues including increasing workloads, less funding and greater diversity in the client base. A situation has been created where health professionals need to achieve more in less time, making good time management skills essential. The importance of these skills has been endorsed by graduates, supervisors of recent graduates, experienced practitioners, and educators in the industry.

To that end, researchers at Sydney University investigated the most effective way of evaluating time management skills that would be suitable for an academic environment and clinical settings. They used the Australian Time Organisation and Management Scale (ATOMS) (Covic, Adamson, Lincoln & Kench, 2003).

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Employee Engagement Essential in Professional Services Firms

employee engagementThe importance of employee engagement has been discussed in previous posts. Recent research indicates that nowhere is employee engagement more important than in professional services firms. While these firms are necessarily primarily client focused, ultimately the success of professional services firms relies on the success of their employees’ work. And the most successful employees are engaged employees.

In fact, in professional services firms employee engagement is a strategic business initiative.

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Report reveals the benefits of skills testing

Skills are specific competencies (such as knowledge of MS Excel) that enable performance of job tasks or functions (such as accounting tasks). While often thought of as ‘less than’ a qualification such as a degree, skills are essential in the workforce.

While being intelligent and having a degree, diploma or the like provide the necessary foundation to perform well in many roles, it’s also important that employees have the necessary skills to perform the day-to-day tasks required by their job and which are often not taught as part of a formal qualification.

 

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Research shows: cognitive tests strongly predict job performance

 A meta-analysis conducted in the United Kingdom (Bertua, Anderson & Salgado, 2005) has found that intelligence tests and tests of  specific cognitive abilities are strong, reliable and valid predictors of both job performance  and response to training.  Operational validities are in the range of .5-.6, meaning that these  cognitive tests can account for approximately 30% of the variance in job performance between  candidates.  This makes cognitive ability tests the single strongest predictor of job performance, over and above other popular measures such as personality assessments and job interviews. The predictive validity of cognitive ability tests generalises across job types and  settings, meaning that these tests are useful predictors of most jobs in most industries (if not all!).  Their ability to predict job performance is strongest for more complex roles, such as professional and managerial roles.

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Surveys could be key to cutting staff turnover

Recent research has found that up to 80% of staff turnover can be better controlled by organisations by improving their understanding of employee needs, employee-organisational fit and workplace culture.  The research, which included over 11,000 employees from 40 Australian organisations, was based on exit survey responses from employees who left their organisations between January 2011 and April 2012.  It found that the main reason that employees cited for leaving the organisation was an unfulfilling job role.

It also found that one of the keys to trying to reduce staff turnover and retain top talent is to be aware of what is going on in the organisation: whether employees are well suited to their roles, and engaged in their jobs.

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Due diligence can avoid legal issues

When hiring senior executives, a lot of time and attention tends to be given to perfecting the remuneration package.  A leading workplace law and strategy firm warns that it is important to give equal attention to exit strategies, to avoid costly legal battles if the relationship sours.

One aspect of the exit/departure process that is often disputed when senior executives move on is the restriant of trade clause, which sets out which organisations the executive is prohibited from working for after they leave the organisation and how long this prohibition lasts.  For instance, some organisations prohibit executives from working for competitors for up to on year after moving on.

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Changing face of the workplace

A large survey of Australian businesses conducted by the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research reveals some interesting findings about the significant ways in which employment patterns have changed in the last 20 years.

They found that since 1992:

-There has been a significant shift away from full-time, permanent jobs, particularly for men

  • Only 20% of all new jobs were for men employed full-time on a permanent basis
  • Growth in permanent jobs had been concentrated among individuals aged 45-59
  • Labour hire has been growing rapidly and now comprises over 3% of all employment

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Importance of ‘soft skills’ in the workplace

As seen recently in a leading Australian Human Resources magazine, the importance of ‘soft skills’, including creativity, flexibility, diplomacy and original thought in the modern workplace is gaining momentum.  In an increasingly complex business environment these skills can help organisation’s develop new and better solutions to problems, as traditional ways of interacting with clients, colleagues and the public are becoming less relevant.

So what are soft skills and how do they differ from the more recognisable ‘hard skills’? The easiest way to explain is by way of an example:

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How engaged are your employees?

 Employee engagement (EE) refers to the extent to which your employees believe in the values and mission of the organisation, are committed to their work and will act in ways that further the organisation’s interests.  It integrates the well known constructs of job satisfaction and organisational commitment.

It can also be thought of as an emotional or intellectual “attachment” (positive or negative) to their role and the company.

Engaged employees = intellectually focused and/or emotionally connected at work, actively supportive of organisational goals and willing to put more effort into their jobs (Khan, 1990).

Disengaged employees= distant and withdrawn emotionally or intellectually and perform their roles incompletely, without effort or automatically (Khan, 1990).

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Safety matters, just ask Orica!

Incidents such as the leak of the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium by Orica in Newcastle in August last year highlight the importance of safety procedures and proper handling of health and safety incidents by organisations.

Following the leak the plant was closed for 6 months, it reportedly lost $90 million in earnings, it faced court over breaching Environmental Protection laws and the incident was the subject of a NSW Health health and safety risk assessment and two government inquiries.

The incident also forced changes in environmental protection laws, which now require companies to notify authorities immediately after an incident that poses a risk to the environment, with fines of up to $2 million for failing to do so.

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Assessment in Organisations – Current Status, Trends and Emerging Issues

Meta-analyses have revealed that the most valid predictors of job performance are ability measures (cognitive or intelligence tests) and personality assessments, particularly the “Big 5” personality traits, followed by structured job interviews.  Together, ability tests and measures of conscientiousness or integrity provide an adjusted validity of 0.65 (Ones, Viswesveran, & Schmidt, 1993; Ones & Viswesveran, 1998).  The combination of these measures also helps to reduce the impact of issues such as cultural differences in performance on ability tests and measurement error (Bartram, 2004).

In terms of ‘post-hire’ testing, research has shown that 360 degree feedback systems are one of the most popular and fast-growing types of assessments used in organisations.  These systems have evolved as globalisation and the increased pace of change in organisations have resulted in a need for flexible measures of organisational performance that assess a range of competencies rather than specific job skills (Bartram, 2004).

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How emotionally intelligent are your managers?

Leaders exert a significant influence over the satisfaction and engagement of the employees that they lead (Harter, Schmidt & Hayes, 2002). A good manager can inspire and transform a workplace; while a bad manager can derail their own efforts and those of the organisation.  Signs of derailment include failure to delegate, attitude of arrogance and insensitivity, bullying and inability to adapt to change (Kaiser & Hogan, 2007).  These can lead to reduced individual and organisational performance and have a negative impact on individual health and well-being.  See our blog on workplace bullying to understand one significant outcome that poor leadership can have on workers.

Studies vary in their estimates, but Hogan & Kaiser (2005) has advised that managerial incompetence may be as high as 30-75 per cent in America.  Friday 25th June’s edition of Human Capital Online cites research that shows that at least one in nine managers in Australia are underperforming and engaging in harmful behaviours.

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Identifying your strongest and weakest leaders

The idea of a 360 degree performance appraisal is to survey those around an employee to gather information about their performance from the perspective of different individuals they interact with at work. Feedback is typically provided by subordinates, peers and supervisors, the individuals themselves (self-assessment), and may include feedback from customers or clients. “360” refers to the 360 degrees in a circle, with an employee figuratively in the middle of the circle.

360 degree performance appraisals provide comprehensive, balanced information, i.e. they reveal how the individual operates in a range of roles and with a range of individuals; as a manager, as a member of a team, as a subordinate and, if applicable, with their clients. Reviewers typically remain anonymous, thereby reducing the likelihood of inaccuracies such as the ‘halo’ effect.

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The Multi-Tasks Test as a Predictor of Management Performance

Managers are arguably the most important members of an organisation.  Managers act as the liaison point between the workers and the strategy makers.  They lead and direct staff, implement strategies and policies devised by organisational heads and provide both upward and downward feedback and advice.  They are relied upon by all levels of the organisation.

So it is very important for your business that you employ the right managers.

Interviews and traditional ability measures will provide guidance in your decision-making, but there is another tool that has been found to uniquely predict performance in managerial roles.

It is called the Multi-Tasks Test.

RightPeople’s Multi-Tasks test paradigm has a long history in psychological research but has recently re-emerged as technological advances have made it possible to develop superior forms of Multi-tasks and efficiently administer this test in the average workplace.

Read on for more information about the theoretical basis for this test, the empirical research supporting it and how RightPeople can help you make one of the most important decisions you will make: who you put in charge of your business.

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WHO SHOULD YOU TEST FIRST?

It’s a reality that incompetent accounting staff can virtually destroy a business.

Accounting practices have evolved over the last decade due to unprecedented market pressures including commodity based pricing and increasing costs from training, technology, and litigation (Eilifsen, Knechel & Wallage, 2001).  A number of accounting scandals in the early 2000’s (e.g. Arthur Andersen and Enron) fuelled the revision of key accounting practices and highlighted the damage that can be done to an organisation’s reputation and livelihood when accountants and auditors act improperly, incompetently, or do not recognise or respond effectively to strategic risks.

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PULLING OUT THE BAD WEEDS

Recruitment & Pre-Employment Selection Testing
By using the intuitive method of psychometric testing during pre-employment screening processes, companies are hitting a home run the first time they hire someone. Selective testing is “intuitive”, because it assesses job candidates beyond the normal interview questions, extracting information about the candidate through various kinds of pre-employment tests

According to Human Capital Magazine, pre-employment selection testing assists in recruiting people who are suitable for both the position and the company. In addition, selection testing also aids companies in “pulling out the bad weeds” that seem like the perfect fit.

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GIVING PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES A FAIR CHANCE

Psychometric Aptitude Assessment
A rigorous interview and selection process may seem tedious for both employers and prospective candidates. However, if you implement aptitude psychometric testing in your interview process, believe it or not, you are giving job applicants a fair shot at the job position.

“But, aren’t these tests used to weed out the unqualified employees?” you ask. The answer is: Yes, but aptitude psychometric assessments are also great for determining which candidates are the most qualified as well. When an applicant passes the tests that you chose to administer with flying colours, you know that you have found a viable candidate for the position.

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