Did you hire the right person?

How can you know whether the candidates you are considering will be a good fit with your company or organization or not?

Knowing what to look for in a candidate is tricky business. You need someone who has the knowledge and background to do the job, someone who is hard working, and you also want someone who will “fit in” to your company’s culture.  Basically we are all looking for someone with the “right” personality.

But what is personality?  How do we judge it and how can we know if any particular candidate has the “right” sort of personality?

Well, it turns out we humans are by and large, lousy judges of personality.  To help us be more objective we turn to personality assessments.

Workplace personality assessments are big business, like $500 million a year. Josh Bersin, principal of consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte, a unit of auditor Deloitte LLP estimates that 60% to 70% of all US workers have been subjected to a personality test in the workplace (see: http://www.wsj.com/articles/are-workplace-personality-tests-fair-1412044257)

The question hiring professionals need to ask is: do these assessments even tell us anything useful?  The answer is no. They don’t. Mostly because people don’t know what personality traits correspond to good work behavior. The problem of misused personality tests has gotten so bad that lawsuits have been filed against companies who are misusing personality assessments and the EEOC is looking into allegations that personality tests discriminate against people with disabilities.

 The other reason to consider how and whether to use personality assessments has to do with the fact that many of the most common tests have no science to back them up.

Yes, you heard me, most of the common personality tests (*cough* Myers Briggs *cough*) are not based on science. In fact, they don’t even use the same personality traits that are standard in the scientific community.  (see:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/types-of-psychological-testing/0005924/2 for a list of the types of tests that actual psychologists use when assessing personality).

So, what is a conscientious employer to do when faced with the need to determine if a candidate is good worker or not. Well, step one is to educate yourself. Find out what personality traits you should be looking for and how you might actually assess for that so that you can stop misusing personality assessments in the workplace.

What I can tell you is that according to Dr. Brittany Shoots-Reinhard a social psychologist with a focus on attitudes, persuasion, judgment and decision making, and personality: one of the best personality predictors of workplace success is actually rather simple: conscientiousness.  All things being equal, people who are conscientious are going to make a good faith effort to get their work done regardless of the conditions they find themselves in.

To learn more about how to stop misusing personality assessments so that you can be effective AND ethical – check out Brittany’s e-course at Humanist Learning Systems. https://humanistlearning.com/personalityassessments/


Happiness in the moment

While our moment-to-moment happiness depends on how we are treated by others, our larger sense of purpose in life is our own doing.

There was a recent study about every day morality – see report on it at: http://www.yourmorals.org/blog/2014/09/some-good-news-about-everyday-moral-life/

What they found is that people receive and commit more moral acts than immoral acts, but we are twice as likely to hear about immoral acts. Something we all know but it’s nice to have it validated by actual data.

The other big finding is that if you are a recipient of a moral act, you are more likely to act morally yourself within the next hour.  This is something the scientists call “moral contagion.” In other words, being kind encourages more kindness in the world.

What has this got to do with happiness?  Well, it turns out that being treated morally increases our happiness. No surprise there. But when you combine this with acting morally encouraging more moral behavior, you start to see the scientific underpinnings of the golden rule. You behave well because it encourages other people to behave well and when other people behave well towards you, it makes you feel happy.

What is really interesting is people who behave morally experience a big increase in their sense of purpose in life. Having a larger sense of purpose in your life not only feels good, it reduces stress improves your health and increases your lifespan. (see: http://magazine.ucla.edu/exclusives/sense-of-purpose-makes-you-happy-and-healthy/)

Apparently science backs up the Humanist approach to life. Be a good person, help other people be good too.

For more read my book: The Humanist Approach to Happiness: http://happiness.jen-hancock.com/ 

How Times Change

And yet, some things always remain the same. Like, how many of us hate change!

Routines are comforting.  We don’t have to think too much about them. We just do them, as if on autopilot and stuff gets done.  Like, laundry, or filing an annual report, or any number of mundane work tasks.

Workplaces are filled with repetitive tasks.  It’s not just manufacturers who stick to their processes. All workplaces do.  Whatever it is that has to get done, from cooking a hamburger to new client intake, to payroll all has a process.

And these processes are really helpful. They can help us get a lot of stuff done very quickly and with minimal error; precisely because – they are done the same way every time.

Processes are only a problem when we need to change them.  And suddenly all heck breaks loose.

No one knows what they are supposed to do anymore. No one knows who is responsible anymore. The new system doesn't seem to work as well as the old one. Why did management think we needed to change when the old way worked so well!  We have all been there and done that. It’s even painful to think about.

And yet, change sometimes is necessary. If a process isn't working, it needs to be changed.  So how do we help our staff change when it is necessary with as little trauma as possible so that their sanity and ours is saved?

The answer has to do with understanding how habits are formed and more importantly, how we unlearn old habits. Every business process is completed through habit.  And old habits are hard to break. Understand that going in and your change management process will go a LOT smoother.  It will still be a bit painful, but you will at least make the transition a little easier.

When we look at companies who do this successfully we see that their training programs are designed to foster new habit formation.  They don’t just tell everyone – hey – do it this new way and hope for the best. They train them on the new way – for about a month - until their employees can do the new process by habit – and THEN they turn them loose on the new systems. This is a pretty common practice at some of the larger restaurant chains whenever they roll out a new food item on their menu.

Companies who employ white collar workers should pay attention and learn from the success of others. If you want a smooth transition to the new way of doing things – learn how habits are formed and put in the time and energy needed to help your employees learn the new habits you want and need them to adopt.

To learn more – consider taking our “Why is Change so Hard?” e-course at Humanist Learning Systems. https://humanistlearning.com/change1/

Stress Awareness and Humanist Meditation

Stress happens. But you can minimize its impact on you by choosing how you respond.

April is Stress Awareness month. And yes, this is apparently a government recognized thing: http://www.foh.hhs.gov/calendar/april.html According to Federal Occupational Health – “Stress happens. Sometimes it's unavoidable, at times it's unbearable. That's why taking time for yourself is a necessity.”

They go on to say, “While you can't avoid stress, you can minimize it by changing how you choose to respond to it. The ultimate reward for your efforts is a healthy, balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun.”

I agree, which is why I practice meditation, as a Humanist. It’s why I encourage others to meditate as well. And yes, meditation is one of the ways the government says you can relax and recharge. And if they endorse it, well, it has to be good.

What meditation does for me is it helps me learn how to calm my mind. That’s what meditation is about, learning how to consciously choose your response, even when that response is hard wired into our nervous system like stress is.

What Humanist meditation isn't is a spiritual practice. I don’t become one with the universe. Nothing supernatural happens. I just relax, consciously and become more present and that feels good and that’s reason enough to practice it.

If you want to learn more about Humanist meditation, Humanist Learning Systems offers,  free guided meditations by Rick Heller of the Humanist Mindfulness Group at:  https://humanistlearning.com/humanist-meditations/ 

And if you want to learn more about the science of meditation and what exactly happens in your brain when you meditation, consider taking Humanist Meditation: Answers for Skeptics also taught by Rick:
https://humanistlearning.com/meditation101/ 

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