Monday, November 30th, 2009
A Training Needs Analysis is usually conducted as a precursor to establishing training and development programs within an organization. A training needs analysis allows organizations to assess their employees and address any potential gaps that may impact effectiveness and performance. These potential gaps relate to differences between current work performance and the desired level of work performance. By assessing these differences, an organization can develop training and developmental programs and enable the employees to achieve the desired level of work performance.
A training needs analysis can be conducted at three distinct levels. Firstly, at the organizational level. This focuses on organizational factors that influence the need for training and development as well as assessing the organization’s capability to provide training and development. The second level focuses on position specific information regarding the qualities necessary for optimal performance and this would allow the organization to clarify expectations regarding the desired qualities for that position. The final level focuses on the individual and provides information regarding the performance of the position incumbent and assesses the specific areas that could be improved through training and development.
By gathering information at these different levels, an organization can identify which employees require further training or development as well as ascertain the specific skills, knowledge, abilities and other qualities that should be addressed through training and development. This would allow them to implement tailored training and development programs or solicit the aid of third party training providers within the capabilities of the organizational budget or resources.
In order for training needs analysis to be effective, those involved not only need to be adequately trained to undertake it, they also need a holistic understanding of the organisation’s mission and its strategic objectives over the coming period of time (usually 1-3 years). This enables effective planning of the required skills and competencies and assessment of match and mismatch between strategic competencies and current competencies.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Competencies in human resources refer to the knowledge, skills, abilities and other qualities that an individual possesses which influences his or her performance at work. These competencies are typically assessed during a job analysis where the appropriate competencies for the role are identified and included in the position specifications. These competencies can be utilized during recruitment and selection to identify applicants who possess the qualities necessary for future success in the positions. They can also be utilized as indicators for tracking performance during the performance management processes.
Competencies can also be used for training and developmental purposes to identify potential competency gaps. These gaps refer to differences between the given level of ability and performance in a certain area and the expected level of ability and performance for that area. Through the identification of such competency gaps, remedial action can be taken through the application of training to address these gaps and ensure that the individual is provided with the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities and other qualities to perform at the expected level.
Another potential area for utility of competencies in development is that of talent management and development. In such cases, an individual may be in the process of being groomed for higher level positions within an organization. Having identified the competencies necessary for that position and assessing the individual’s current competencies, it would be easier to address his or her developmental needs and provide a map to track the progress. This would allow organizations to determine the potential of the individual as well as when that individual would be able to fulfil the requirements of the future position.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
To complement our BPS Level A and BPS Level B Certificates of Competence in Occupational Testing Training in Singapore, PsyAsia International has announced new dates for the same psychometric training course in Hong Kong. PsyAsia has been running this course in Singapore and Hong Kong since 2002 and has collected many impressive delegate reviews. The course is run by a British Psychological Society award-winning resident and registered business psychologist with a PhD earned through work with validation of Psychometric Tests in Asia. For more details of the course and facilitator and to register online, please click here.
The Hong Kong Psychometric Assessment at Work course will run over the following dates: Level A: 9-11 March 2010 Level B: 16-18 March 2010 Psychometric Test Administration only: 9 March 2010
The Singapore Psychometric Assessment at Work course will run over the following dates: Level A: 27-29 January 2010 or 24-26 February 2010 Level B: 1-3 March 2010 Psychometric Test Administration only: 27 January 2010 or 24 February 2010
Delegates may opt to join Level A in Singapore and Level B in Hong Kong if they wish at no additional cost but should contact us before booking in order to ensure availability.
The day immediately following Level B is conversion training for the Saville Consulting Wave®. Level B delegates may register for this training at 50% off the regular fee by selecting that option during the booking process.
Friday, November 20th, 2009
Organizational conflict is popularly known as a disruptive influence within organizations, as it can affect the organizational effectiveness and lead to counterproductive behaviours. This may not always be the case as research has suggested that conflict at moderate levels within an organization is optimal for organizational effectiveness (Jones, 2004). It appears that some conflict is required for organizational effectiveness but overly high levels of conflict can harm organizational effectiveness.
Amason’s (1996) study regarding this phenomenon has identified and differentiated between two forms of conflict, functional and dysfunctional conflict. According to the author, functional conflict refers to differences in judgment regarding the achievement of common goals and is mainly task oriented while dysfunctional conflict tends to relate to personal differences and is likely to carry an emotional slant. The results of the study indicated that improvements to decision making were due to the cognitive aspects of conflict while decision making suffered due to the emotional aspects of conflict. The author also proposed that although simulation of cognitive aspects can help to promote functional conflict, often it may unintentionally raise emotional aspects leading to dysfunctional conflict (Amason, 1996). Therefore, it is important to note that conflict does play a part in determining organizational effectiveness and also that it is not totally undesirable as some conflict appears to be necessary to maximize performance.
Having considered different forms of conflict that might be present within organizations, it would be important for organizations to be able to differentiate between sources of conflict that may provide beneficial effects and sources of conflict that are associated with negative effects. This would allow organizations to maintain an optimal level of conflict to promote organizational effectiveness and undertake strategies to minimize the negative aspects that are associated with counter-productive conflict within the organization.
Amason, A. C. (1996). Distinguishing the Effects of Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict on Strategic Decision Making: Resolving a Paradox for Top Management Teams. The Academy of Management Journal, 39(1), 123-148.
Jones, G. R. (2004). Organizational Theory, Design, and Change (4th ed). New Jersey Pearson Education Inc.
Friday, November 20th, 2009
Work References are a common assessment method utilized by most organizations in their recruitment and selection processes. Work references are based on the principle that the past performance of an individual is highly predictive of their future performance. Organizations obtain information from the candidate’s prior employers regarding relevant aspects of their work performance so as to get a perspective of how well the candidate would perform in the available job position.
Although this may appear to be a valuable selection tool for assessing candidates and seem to provide important information regarding their past performance, it is critical to be aware of the inherent limitations of such a method of assessment. Candidates who apply for job positions are likely to have a vested interest to market themselves to the organization and to ultimately obtain the job position that they were applying for. With this in mind, work references that the candidates provide are likely to be work references that would portray them in a favourable light. The result of this limits the validity and reliability of work references as a recruitment and selection assessment method.
Organizations who utilize work references as a significant component of their recruitment process need to keep this in mind when evaluating candidates. One way of ensuring that work references are more valid is to ask behaviour based questions regarding the relevant areas of the candidate’s past performance and obtain specific examples of situations which highlight the action that was taken by the candidate along with the final outcome. This provides a more accurate portrayal of the candidate’s past performance as it highlights specific references regarding the work behaviours that the candidate has demonstrated in the past.
Friday, November 20th, 2009
The Market for Psychometrics in Singapore
There are so many Psychometric Tests on the market in Singapore now, the task of choosing the right one is not easy. Choice is always a good thing, however as humans we often look for easy or stereotypical ways of making those choices and they are not always the best ones to make. For example, a client of ours was preparing for an upcoming team-building session. He approached us asking if we had a certain test that he could use in that session. Our answer was that we don’t supply that test for various very good reasons. The client’s response was “but so many people use it”. This is a typical response. Another potential client had been looking around in Singapore for Psychometric Personality Tests to use in his training sessions as an added benefit. He categorically advised us that he was not interested in validity and was looking for something simple and cheap! The reality here is that at best he is wasting his time and the time of those who will complete his tests. At worst and most likely, his trainees will be led to believe things about themselves which frankly may not be true (reliable or valid!).
Science, Psychology, Psychometrics and the Real World of Business
As busy professionals we often assume that if lots of other people are using a test it must be a good one. This is a huge mistake. Our evolution has programmed us to be seduced by glossy advertising materials and confident, friendly salespeople. On the other hand, we have a tendency to be turned off by less glossy scientific figures, statistics and perhaps psychologists such as myself who speak about the science and real value behind a test, its validity! Ultimately then, both our clients and ourselves as psychologists have problems to overcome!!
Psychologists have to be able to explain in more “glossy” terms about the technical properties of a test and our clients, usually the HR and aligned professions, are invited to turn their ears our way for a little while, just long enough to get the notion that there is more to a psychometric test than meets the eye!
Technical Properties of Psychometric Tests
When we talk of the technical properties of a psychometric test, we are referring to things such as its reliability and validity as well as how it was constructed. If a test is constructed well, it will take time. Not months, often years. The test will also evolve over time such that more and validity data will be added to its manuals. This process is costly, hence good tests cost money.
If you come across cheap tests, that should start to ring alarm bells. It’s possible to write a few questions on a napkin in a restaurant and call it psychometric and even try to sell it. If it looks good and the questions look relevant perhaps it will sell and gain a huge following. But how reliable is that test?
In other words, can it provide consistent measurement of your candidate? If your bathroom scales provide different results each time you weight yourself you take them back and say these are not reliable. Likewise with a test, you need to ensure that it is consistently assessing the constructs that it purports to assess. We often come across new clients who are shocked when we tell them that good personality tests often contain around 200 questions. However, buyer beware! We know that the longer the test, the more reliable the results (as long as it is not so long that the candidate falls asleep!).
An unreliable test can not be a valid test, hence reliability is a precursor to validity. However, validity is arguably the most important aspect of a test. You choose to use tests because you want them to illustrate where a candidate stands in terms of their ability or personality or in order to predict how your candidate will perform or behave in a job. The test’s ability to meet this need is referred to as validity.
Some tests on the market are simply more valid that others. In fact, one test in the past year has proven to be more valid than all other tests it was compared with on the market! How come users stay with their current test then? Perhaps because of preference, habit, price, mass-following and so on. However, do ask yourself and your test supplier, how valid is your test – this is the single most important technical property in a psychometric test!
Sometimes tests which are more valid will be more expensive but this makes sense. If a test took a long time to develop, was developed well and by a reputable publisher and is based on well founded theories that have been researched internationally, then surely it is worth paying the extra as such a test will provide an excellent return on investment with its strong validity.
Training to use Psychometric Tests in Singapore
Properly developed psychometric tests require proper training to be used competently. If your test supplier requires that you undergo very limited or no training, this is a reflection of the test as well as their lack of understanding of psychometrics. You need to understand the concepts referred to above, as well as error in testing and how to make decisions based on test results, let alone how to feed back results properly to candidates and decision-makers. The type of questions (i.e., forced choice versus rating scales) will also dictate how you can use the results – you need to be trained to understand this! In some parts of the world (South Africa for example), only psychologists can use psychometric tests. Whilst this is a strict rule, it has its logical basis in how easy it is for untrained professionals to use tests wrongly.
Purchasing Psychometric Tests in Singapore
You may also wish to consider where you purchase your tests from, particularly in Singapore. In recent years we have seen an influx of profiteers in the industry who seek to make money but lack any depth of understanding in psychometrics or psychology at work. This will change in time as psychology in Singapore develops. For now however, be wary of this and we suggest that you only purchase psychometric tests from fully registered organisational psychologists who have a firm grounding in personality, psychometrics and psychology at work and who are answerable to professional competence and ethics boards. Many of those selling psychometric tests in Singapore are simply not answerable to anybody in terms of their conduct or competence. You can therefore not be certain that any advice they provide is relevant, up-to-date or will work in your organisation.
There are many more things to be aware of when choosing psychometric tests in Singapore. We cannot entertain them all here due to space constraints. You may wish to look out for training courses in Psychometric Assessment such as our our Psychometric Assessment at Work training which leads to the internationally recognised British Psychological Society Level A and B Certificates of Competence in Occupational Testing. Such courses will prepare you further for choosing the right test and therein avoid costly selection and development mistakes. Look for courses run by experts in psychometrics who are based in Singapore and hence have a strong understanding of test use aligned with local culture, laws and practice.
Note: some Singapore firms will ship in overseas trainers to run psychometric training. We suggest you avoid this training reseller model given that the facilitator is based overseas and is thus likely to lack knowledge of the Singapore business/legal and cultural environment for Psychometric Testing.
This article is Copyright PsyAsia International Pte Ltd.
It was originally written for Human Resources Magazine in Singapore
A shorter version of the article appears in the magazine’s November 2009 issue
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
There is much emphasis placed on organizations being able to adequately assess the individual performance of employees so as to ensure that organizational goals have been achieved. This has been commonly done through periodic reviews conducted with employees to assess whether they have met their goals for that period. There is more to performance reviews than to just assess whether their goals have been met; there is additional potential for organizations to assess how the goals were met, what were the barriers to achieving those goals, as well as whether improvements could be made.
Performance reviews also provide the opportunity for management to assess the process that was undertaken by the employees to see whether the course of action taken to achieve the goal was effective. This can be very enlightening as management gets a clearer perspective regarding the operational concerns involved while obtaining feedback from employees regarding any potential barriers that are present or even suggestions about how things can be improved.
For the employees, this is an additional forum where they are able to provide relevant input for the organization and it can be motivating when they see that management is interested in what they have to say as well as implementing some of the suggestions that they have provided. This ensures greater buy-in and commitment among employees as they are able to contribute to the process.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
It is well documented that redundancies have been perceived in a negative light, in particular there is a focus on the negative effects that have been associated with employees whose job positions have been made redundant. Even so, many forget about the employees who are still with the organization following a redundancy. It is important to note that these employees who remain with the organization are also subject to potential negative effects known as “Survivor Syndrome” (Baruch & Hind, 1999).
Following a redundancy, employees who “survive” or remain with the organization have to cope with a range of different issues such as a potentially negative climate within the organization or their emotions following the exit of close co-workers and, even increased workload due to the decrease in staffing levels. If not managed properly, “survivors” are likely to display negative reactions such as reduced commitment levels, negative emotional responses, increased stress levels and burnout (Baruch & Hind, 1999). This in turn can lead to decreases in productivity and efficiency. Potentially, this may also lead to “survivors” to make the decision to leave the organization voluntarily.
Whatever the reason the organization has for conducting a redundancy, such as reducing the costs due to downturns in the economy or even when conducting organizational restructuring for improved efficiency, organizations need to be aware of not only the effects on outgoing employees but also be aware of the potential effects on the existing and remaining employees in the organization. This would allow them to develop plans for managing such effects and providing support to the remaining employees.
Baruch, Y., & Hind, P. (1999). Perceptual Motion in Organizations: Effective Management and the Impact of the New Psychological Contracts on “Survivor Syndrome”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8(2), 295-306.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Outplacement Services refer to services offered by organizations undergoing downsizing activities. These services help affected employees through the transition and assist them in re-employment efforts. The services can be provided by the organization, but are usually provided by third party consultancies.
It is recognized that employees whose positions have been made redundant undergo a very stressful time in their lives. They have to deal with the practical aspects of being unemployed such as financial issues, as well as needing to locate employment in a market that potentially has changed. There are also potential psychological effects that may result such as negative emotions arising due to loss of employment and the stress of having to deal with a potentially life changing situation.
Outplacement services provide services that assist employees in dealing with both the practical and psychological aspects of this transition. They provide counselling services to affected employees to help them cope with the psychological aspects of the transition. They also provide skills training via workshops or through individual sessions in areas such as resume writing, preparation for interviews and job search skills to facilitate any of the re-employment efforts of the affected employees.
Outplacement services provide both benefits to the organization and to the employees. The employees are provided with resources and support to help them through this transitional period, while organizations mitigate some of the uncertainty and stresses associated with such periods of downsizing for both departing and remaining employees.