Don’t Dump the Dimensions: A New Model for Evaluating Assessment Center Participants

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/21/2011

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Topic: Assessment

Publication: Personnel Psychology (SUMMER 2011)

Article: Exercises and Dimensions are the Currency of Assessment Centers

Authors: Hoffman, B. J., Melchers, K. G., Blair, C. A., Kleinmann, M., & Ladd, R. T.

Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Assessment centers (ACs) remain a popular, and often effective, way for organizations to evaluate candidates, both in hiring and promotion settings. One choice that confronts users of assessment centers concerns the type of information that is gathered about candidates. A traditional practice with ACs has been to use multiple exercises to measure multiple job-relevant dimensions of candidate performance. However, some research has suggested that task-performance ratings are a more effective way to assess candidates. Some authors have even advocated for the abandonment of dimension ratings in AC practice.

Taking these differing perspectives into account, Brian Hoffman and colleagues conducted a study to identify a model that would effectively describe the structure of AC ratings. In their study, Hoffman et al. developed and tested a structure for assessment center ratings that included one general performance factor, as well as multiple broad performance dimensions and multiple exercise ratings.

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Trust in the leader is important for team performance

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/19/2011

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Topic: Leadership, Teams

Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2011)

Article: Cognition-based and affect-based trust as mediators of leader behavior influences on team performance

Authors: Schaubroeck, J., Lam, S. S. K., & Peng, A. C.

Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

Images Little research has explored the role that trust in the leader plays on team performance. This study examined that relationship and provided support for a model of affect-based and cognition-based trust in the leader mediating (linking) the relationship between leader behavior patterns and team performance.

Two types of trust in the leader were explored in this study: cognition-based trust and affect-based trust. Cognition-based trust is based on one’s perceptions of the leader’s competence, while affect-based trust is based on one’s feelings for the leader (e.g., a sense of empathy or concern from the leader). In this study, cognition-based trust was positively related to team performance through team potency (a team’s belief in its capability). Affect-based trust was positively related to team performance through psychological safety (a team’s belief that it is safe to take interpersonal risks, like suggesting unpopular ideas).

Transformational leadership is a behavior pattern in which the leader conveys a vision and strategic goals to inspire followers. Servant leadership emphasizes the followers, focusing on their welfare and supporting them. The authors found that transformational leadership was positively related to team potency through cognition-based trust. Servant leadership was positively related to team psychological safety through affect-based trust. In addition, both servant leadership and transformational leadership were positively and independently related to team performance.

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Improve service climate to retain customers and increase profitability

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/16/2011

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Topic: Organizational Performance, Strategic HR

Publication: Human Resource Management (MAY/JUNE 2011)

Article: The service climate-firm performance chain: The role of customer retention

Authors: Towler, A., Lezotte, D. V., & Burke, M. J.

Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

Images When an organization wants to improve customer retention and therefore its profitability, it will often turn to marketing. But could HR provide another option? In this study, Towler, Lezotte, and Burke (2011) tested a model of the way in which service climate (conceptualized and measured by concern for employees and concern for customers) affects profitability.

The authors hypothesized that showing concern for employees would lead to employees showing concern for customers, which in turn would lead to customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers are more likely to return, so customer satisfaction was predicted to lead to customer retention, which in turn was predicted to lead to store profitability. This model was tested using a huge sample of over 12,000 employees in 1,500 tire retail/vehicle service stores. The authors found full support for the model.

The results of this study indicate that if you want your employees to show concern for customers, you must first show concern for your employees. Their subsequent showing of concern for customers leads to more satisfied customers, who in turn become repeat customers, and that means profitability. Marketing therefore is not the only group that the organization should turn to for advice on customer retention – they should look to HR as well!

Towler, A., Lezotte, D. V., & Burke, M. J. (2011). The service climate-firm performance chain: The role of customer retention. Human Resource Management, 50, 391-406. Doi: 10.1002/hrm.20422

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I/O at Work: the Movie

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/14/2011

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Topic: Management, Work Environment

Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2010)

Article: When Distress Hits Home: The Role of Contextual Factors and Psychological Distress in Predicting Employees’ Responses to Abusive Supervision

Authors: S.L.D. Restubog, K.L. Scott, T.J. Zagenczyk

Reviewed By: Ben Sher

Restubog, S.L.D., Scott, K.L., & Zagenczyk, T.J. (2011). When Distress Hits Home: The Role of Contextual Factors and Psychological Distress in Predicting Employees’ Responses to Abusive Supervision. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 713-729.

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Life Isn’t Always Fair: Using Inducements & Contributions to Predict Employee Satisfaction

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/12/2011

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Topic: Employee Satisfaction, Evidence-Based Management, Rewards

Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2011)

Article: Promised and Delivered Inducements and Contributions: An Integrated View of Psychological Contract Appraisal

Authors: Lambert, L. S.

Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Images One of the most common complaints an employee may have with their employing organization is that they are not be fairly or adequately compensated for the contributions that they are putting into the company. A complaint of this type gets down to the concept of a psychological contract, which consists of inducements and contributions. Both of these come in two “varieties,” promised and delivered. Promised inducements or contributions are commitments that an organization or an employee, respectively, commit to providing to the other. Delivered inducements or contributions are what the organization or employee actually provide to the other, which may deviate from the promised inducement or contribution. Together, the balance, or lack thereof, between these four components determines the overall quality of the psychological contract between an employee and the organization they work for. The current study, by Lisa Schurer Lambert, addresses a gap in the psychological contract literature: the comparison, by employees, of inducements to contributions, particularly with respect to the weight that employees give to each component.

The author addresses how three different models can be used to compare inducements to contributions. Using the first framework, the discrepancy model, comparisons are made by directly comparing what is promised to what is received. The second model, the equity model, assesses the extent to which the employee feels the balance between work and pay is fair. Finally, the needs model evaluates the psychological contract to the extent that it meets an employee’s “needs”: things that benefit their physical or psychological survival and well-being.

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There to Serve: Servant Leadership and Team Success

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/09/2011

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Topic: Leadership, Teams

Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JUL 2011)

Article: Antecedents of Team Potency and Team Effectiveness: An Examination of Goal and Process Clarity and Servant Leadership

Authors: Hu, J. & Liden, R. C.

Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada

Images Teams are used in a wide variety of organizations for a wide variety of purposes. While teams can be useful to organizations in many ways, there are risks as well. By forming individuals into collective teams, organizations must risk conflict and competition amongst group members. Generally, it is also necessary to have one or more individuals lead a team. In essence, teams can yield very positive results, but they must be designed and managed thoughtfully. A new article by Jia Hu and Robert Liden addresses how a particular type of leadership – servant leadership – might be especially useful in guiding teams to success.

The authors note that teams tend to perform better when team goals and processes are clear to all team members. This clarity can lead to high team potency beliefs, wherein team members believe in the team’s ability to effectively achieve its goals. The authors go on to point out that leaders of the “servant leader” type are particularly well-positioned to elicit this clarity and trust in their teams. Servant leaders do this through behaviors that put team members first, empowering them, and helping them to grow and succeed both as individuals and team members. Among their hypotheses, the authors hypothesized that, by fostering team potency in these ways, servant leaders might lead teams to perform better and engage in higher levels of organizational citizenship behavior.

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Predicting Burnout: Playing Well With Others Can Go a Long Way!

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/07/2011

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Topic: Burnout, Engagement

Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (SUMMER 2011)

Article: Social strategies during university studies predict early career work burnout and engagement: 18-year longitudinal study

Authors: Salmela-Aro, K., Tolvanen, A., Nurmi, J. E. 

Reviewed by: Larry Martinez

Boredman Sure, there are days when we just don’t want to go to work.  In these times, the very thought of going in to the office can make one cringe…we feel like we need a long, isolated vacation.  In short, we’re burned out.  This is a big problem for companies, who rely on employees to be actively engaged and energetic at work.  However, it may be that some people are more or less intrinsically susceptible to burnout and disengagement at work.  That is, some people just have burnout-prone personality characteristics and thus may be unwise investments for employers.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could figure out who these people are likely to be?  Salmela-Aro and her colleagues (2011) address this issue directly.

These authors followed 292 university students through their academic and subsequent careers (sometimes for as long as 18 years) to find personality characteristics that might predict burnout and disengagement.  Specifically, they found that social strategies used during college were indicators of later reported levels of burnout and engagement.  Social strategies include the extent to which someone is positively (optimism) or negatively (pessimism) inclined to value and approach social relationships.  So, if you have an optimistic social orientation, you are likely to 1) build relationships with coworkers who can act as resources, 2) ask for help when problems arise, and 3) have support from others when the going gets tough.  The opposite would be true for someone with a pessimistic (avoidant) social orientation. 

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Is Bureaucracy Bad for Creativity? That Depends on You

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/05/2011

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Topic: Creativity, Strategic HR, Teams

Publication: Academy of Management Journal

Article: How does bureaucracy impact individual creativity? A cross-level investigation of team contextual influences on goal orientation-creativity relationships

Authors: Giles Hirst, Daan Van Knippenberg, Chin-Hui Chen, & Claudia A. Sacramento

Reviewed By: Katie Bachman

Index Bureaucracy and creativity. They might seem like mortal enemies—we often think of red tape and paper work as the killer of creative thinking—but it doesn’t have to be! Really, it depends on your employees. When we talk about goal orientation (why people do what they do), we usually take about three types of people. First, you have your learning-oriented workers. These are the ones who do what they do for sheer enjoyment of the work. They are intrinsically motivated. Second, you have your performance-prove-oriented employees. These workers want to show you how good they are. Third and finally, you have your performance-avoid workers. These are your risk-adverse employees—the rule followers. They all respond to bureaucracy differently, particularly when it comes to creativity.

We can divide bureaucracy into two dimensions—centralization and formalization. Centralization deals with the amount of decision making ability team members have. The more centralized decision making is, the less team members have opportunity to add their input. Formalization deals with the paperwork. It’s the policies and procedures employees have to adhere to in their job. Like centralization, the more formal the procedure, the less wiggle-room there is for workers.

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Increase generic human capital to increase unit-specific human capital

Posted at 5:30 AM On 09/02/2011

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Topic: Organizational Performance, Talent Management, Strategic HR

Publication: Academy of Management Journal (APR 2011)

Article: Acquiring and developing human capital in service contexts: The interconnectedness of human capital resources

Authors: Ployhart, R. E., Van Iddekinge, C. H., & MacKenzie, W. I.

Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

CorporatePeople102135544_std.337194406_std It is widely acknowledged that human capital is important, but does it matter whether the capital is generic (transferable to other organizations) or unit-specific (valuable to that particular work unit and not to others)? In this article, Ployhart, Van Iddekinge, and MacKenzie (2011) assessed both generic and unit-specific human capital in a large fast-food organization. They created and tested a model for how the two kinds of human capital relate to each other and to performance and effectiveness outcomes.

The level of generic human capital was based on the cognitive ability and personality of hired applicants, while unit-specific human capital was based on employees’ additional training.  The authors found that changes in generic and unit-specific human capital were positively related over time; that is, as generic human capital increased, so did unit-specific human capital. In addition, changes in unit-specific human capital were positively related to changes in unit service performance behavior (efficiency, service, quality), and changes in unit service performance behavior were positively related to changes in unit service effectiveness (unit financial success).

In other words, hire employees who are smart and whose personalities fit with their jobs.  This will establish strong bench strength and will set the organization up for success as employees are trained to build the skills necessary to excel in specific roles. 

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Career success? The differences are Black and White

Posted at 5:30 AM On 08/31/2011

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Topic: Diversity

Publication: Journal of Vocational Behavior (online pre-publication)

Article: Evaluating career success of African American males: It’s what you know and who you are that matters.

Authors: Johnson, C. D. & Eby, L. T.

Reviewed by: Larry Martinez

Blackandwhite Little research has specifically examined what makes African American males successful.  This research has been done with respect to Caucasian workers, but are the things that are related to success for Caucasians also related to success for African Americans?  Are there other things that might be related to success for African Americans in particular that has not been examined with respect to Caucasians?  These questions formed the basis of research by Johnson and Eby (in press).

Specifically, these authors examined four broad dimensions of characteristics that might be related to success for African Americans: human capital (e.g., education, work history, training), social capital (e.g., informal networks, professional associations, club memberships), individual differences (e.g., motivation, conscientiousness, ambition), and demographic attributes (e.g., marital status, age, skin tone).  In a sample of 247 African American males, these authors found that some characteristics that were related to success in Caucasians were also related for African Americans.  Specifically, human capital and demographic attributes were the most related, while social capital and individual differences were much less related. 

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