When dividing attention between two tasks (Multitasking), people need to find the most efficient ways of allocating their attentional or processing resources between the tasks. It is reasonable to presume that people with higher levels of intelligence will be better able to allocate their processing resources efficiently. This was investigated in a study by Ben-Shakhar and Sheffer. Read on to learn more about their findings and how RightPeople has used this information to help you make better choices during your recruitment process.
Making the right decisions for your business
An important consideration when recruiting older workers is to consider what their strengths and weaknesses are likely to be in terms of their cognitive abilities (thinking abilities or intelligence). By using the right mix of psychometric tests you can easily and quickly identify what type of work older workers are best suited for, and in what aspects of work more training may be required.
This may also help guide organisational restructure and employee development programs.
There has been much research about the effect of ageing on cognition. Read on to find out more about some of the key outcomes of their research.
Numerous authors have examined the relationship between speed of processing, working memory and age, and debated the role of these concepts in understanding individual differences in cognitive ability. There are arguments as to the relative contributions of both concepts, and most theorists tend to agree that slowing is the explanation for cognitive decline.
Using tasks that draw on working memory (holding placekeepers in mind) and fluid intelligence (task complexity incrementally increasing), it has been found that both speed and working memory are important for our understanding of individual differences. It is unlikely that speed of processing can completely explain the decline in fluid intelligence with age.
Over 2 million Australians, or 1 in 4 workers, are classified as casual workers. A spokesperson from the ACTU described the trend in the increase in casual workers, or ‘casualisation’ of the workforce as “one of the dominant trends in the Australian workplace during the past decade”.
Much has been written about the casualisation of the workforce and there are many opinions on the benefits and costs. Casual employment can facilitate flexibility in the organsiation and help achieve a better work-to-lifestyle balance for employees. It can be particularly attractive to those who have other commitments, be it study or family, and who cannot or prefer not to commit to full time work. However, there are some hurdles that organisations should be aware of in relation to hiring a casual workforce.
Research has shown that while intelligence in its traditional form, including tasks assessing verbal, numerical, visuo-spatial, reasoning and working memory, is the best predictor of job performance, other skills are also important for managerial success.
Sternberg’s (1996; 1997) triarchic theory of intelligence proposes that intelligence is comprised of traditional analytic skills, practical skills and creativity. He advises that managers need all these components of intelligence in order to be successful. Practical skills are those used in the workplace to guide interactions, help solve problems and knowing how to act in certain situations. They are usually acquired without the direct help of other people. Creativity in the workplace is about seeing old problems and situations in new ways, or the catchphrase of the early 2000’s: thinking outside the box.
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.
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.
What the research shows about Generation Y
Many surveys and studies on Generation Y (individuals born between approximately 1980 and 1995, earlier or later in some definitions) indicate that, as a group, there are a number of characteristics they tend to display that employers should be aware of when hiring and managing these individuals.
Specifically, research has shown that more than any other generation in the workforce, workers from Generation Y (Gen Yers) tend to:
- Anticipate changing jobs frequently (with some research showing more than half of Gen Yers anticipate changing jobs every 2 years).
- Be much more likely to move to a new job if their needs for challenge and career development are not met.
- Have high expectations of their employers, including work-life balance, challenge, high salaries, career advancement and flexibility.
- Apply for jobs in non-traditional ways, including via social networking tools such as Twitter and supplying applications relying on technology.
Our last blog looked at psychometric tests and the difference between psychometric and skills tests.
The main focus was on cognitive ability tests and specific skills sets. An interesting question, therefore, is where does personality fit in?
Personality tests are psychometric tests. They are based on personality research and theories about how personality is structured and how it can be assessed. They have robust psychometric properties (high validity and reliability) and normative data gathered from many thousands of people. They look at a different type of individual difference: individual propensities to think and act in certain ways. Unlike cognitive ability tests and skills tests there is no right or wrong answer. Different jobs and positions in jobs have different personality types that are best suited to them. Although, there are certain personality traits where performance in a certain range is preferable for many jobs.
Psychometric tests and skills tests are often used in job selection. Both can be vital tools to help you find the best people for the job. But what exactly are they, and what are the differences between these two types of tests?
Psychometric tests are instruments that tell us about individual differences: such as personal characteristics or cognitive ability (intelligence), compared to other people. Skills tests tell us about whether a person can perform a certain set of tasks, and how well. While they might sound quite similar, they are actually different. The main differences between psychometric and skills tests are their design, their applicability and what conclusions can be drawn.
Theory based tests are best for your business
From the end of the 20th Century and particularly in the early 21st Century a trend has developed so that cognitive ability tests are increasingly based on sound theoretical models. The benefits of basing ability tests on theoretical models are that they:
- Incorporate the most up-to-date research about how the brain functions and how learning occurs
- Allow for interpretation of results based on the theory
- Guide translation of results into practical outcomes.
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).
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 % in America. Human Capital Online cites research that shows that at least one in nine managers in Australia are underperforming and engaging in harmful behaviours.
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.
Evidence for the Relationship between the Big 5 and Academic Achievement
Many different personality traits have been linked to academic performance. Since the Five Factor Model, or “Big 5“, has enjoyed prominence in the personality literature (Digman, 1990), as well as being recognised by the economics literature (Borghans et al., 2008), we believe it is valuable to organise the findings of the research regarding personality and performance around the Big 5 framework. Here we review these findings, one factor at a time.
Published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Out of Time?
Researchers at the University of Sydney’s Department of Psychology have found that being a good time manager is closely related to how conscientious a person is, and that this may be a personality trait rather than a skill one can acquire. Good time managers are also likely to be early birds, and slightly more prone to worrying.
How It Affects Learning, Work, Relationships, and Our Mental Health
Emotional intelligence (or EI) — the ability to perceive, regulate, and communicate emotions, and to understand emotions in ourselves and others — has been the subject of best-selling books, magazine cover stories, and countless media mentions.
It has been touted as a solution for problems ranging from relationship issues to the inadequacies of local schools. But the media hype has far outpaced the scientific research on emotional intelligence. In “What We Know about Emotional Intelligence”, three experts who are actively involved in research into EI offer a state-of-the-art account of EI in theory and practice. They tell us what we know about EI based, not on anecdotes or wishful thinking, but on scientific evidence.
EI promises a new means for achieving success and personal happiness. Coaches and consultants offer EI training and administer EQ tests — despite the lack of any agreement on how to measure EI, the usefulness of testing for EI, and even how to define EI. ‘What We Know about Emotional Intelligence’ looks at current knowledge about EI with the goal of translating it into practical recommendations in work, school, social, and psychological contexts. The authors discuss what is (and what isn’t) EI, why the concept has such appeal today, how EI develops, and the usefulness of EI in the real world — in school curricula, the workplace, and treating psychological dysfunction.