Monday, December 31, 2007

Factors That DO NOT Predict Performance

The first question often raised in competency model research is which factors truly differentiate performance? If you look at actual business practices you would assume the list of factors goes well beyond interpersonal and technical skills. Most job descriptions and training classes cover such things as professional experiences, industry experience, physical environment conditions, physical ability, education, licenses or certifications, employee tenure, and intelligence. However, each of these factors has one or more critical faults:
  • We cannot quantify the lessons gained from a professional experience, but we can identify the technical or interpersonal skills that were gained or improved after that experience.
    Having worked in a particular industry does not make a difference unless specific skills were gained as a result. Those should be evaluated as technical skills and not assumed based solely on industry experience.
  • The physical environment is managed by a person’s interpersonal and technical skills. Successful performance in a specific environment (ergonomics) is based on those abilities more than any previous experience in such an environment.
  • Accessibility requirements are being challenged more frequently through the legal system so an employee’s physical abilities are less of barrier to performance than his/her skills at managing his/her physical abilities via resources. More and more companies are being required to provide such resources.
  • Most education systems, including training programs, are too generic to provide a performance edge. Instead it is the motivation of the students and their ability to synthesize and use information (skills) that determines the value of the classes. The classes themselves offer no value and the average retention rate of students in any environment is six to twelve percent.
  • Being certified or having a license is no guarantee of performance. If there is a legal or regulatory requirement for such status then consider the requirement a ‘price of admission’ item and omit it from the position model.
  • Length of employment is in no way correlated with job performance. Having spent a great deal of time with the same company or in the same position does not guarantee continued success in that position (requirements change over time for every position) or in the next level higher in the organization (the Peter Principle shows us that a unique set of skills are required at every level from managing work to people to process to strategy).
  • Intelligence is a favorable predictor of performance up to a point. In excess of 120 IQ seems to be a problem in leadership positions and lower IQ’s can have an adverse affect on positions that require highly technical skills. However, there are no IQ tests currently available that fairly assess everyone. All existing testing instruments produce prima facie evidence of discrimination in their results, often discriminating against black males. Also, it is not always how smart you are in terms of performance it is whether you use your intelligence to perform or to learn how to perform. That ability is affected more by interpersonal skills than intelligence.

No comments: