By Herb Greenberg, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Caliper
Way back in 1980, Caliper conducted a study that revealed the pervasiveness of “misemployment.” The study consisted of 36,000 salespeople and showed that individuals who were considered a good fit for a sales job, based on their personality traits, substantially outperformed the individuals who were not suited to the job from a psychological perspective. The people who were not performing well were what we call “misemployed.” Unfortunately, it looks like not much has changed in the last 30 years.
Even prior to that study and continuing beyond it to this day, studies indicate that upward of 70 percent of people currently working are misemployed. So misemployment hurts at least 70 percent of the working population, with the resulting reduction of productivity.
When we discuss misemployment, we are by no means saying that 70 percent of people in the workforce are failures. Far from it. What Caliper’s studies have proven is that 70 percent or more of the current population is not doing work maximally suited to who they are. That has a major negative impact on productivity and morale.
For example, in studying literally hundreds of existing sales forces, 55 percent of people trying to earn a living in sales lack the dynamics for successful selling. Another 20 to 25 percent have strong sales dynamics but are not suited to the particular product or service they are selling. This leaves just 20 to 25 percent who possess sales dynamics and are in the right environment. These are the 20 percent who sell 80 percent of what is sold. The 80/20 rule.
Much of this misemployment problem stems from management
a) Not having a clearly detailed description of job responsibilities
b) Not having a clear understanding of the traits and qualities an individual needs for success in the specific job
c) Lacking specific ways to measure that success
Just think about how much productivity and job satisfaction would go up if the majority of people were in the jobs that are best suited to them. When people are in jobs that play to their natural abilities, everyone benefits.
Here are some basic tips and techniques to ensure your employees are successfully matched to the jobs you need to fill.
Don’t rely entirely on experience. Conventional wisdom is that prior experience will prepare someone to hit the ground running. All too frequently, “experienced” job seekers don’t live up to their claim. Ten years of experience can be one year of bad experience repeated 10 times. Effective hiring has less to do with experience than it does with potential.
This is not to say experience should be completely disregarded—it is more that experience should not be a sole determinant in making a hiring decision. Past experience does not necessarily equal future success. Hire based on potential first.
Consider using a personality assessment. The information from an in-depth personality assessment can provide you with insights to make a better-informed decision. Will the individual fit in with your culture? Work well with others on your team? Connect with his or her manager? Those are the important nuances that can make all the difference as to whether an individual ultimately will succeed or not.
A validated personality profile can provide you with a measurable, objective view of an individual from a personality standpoint and give you a clear idea of how this person is likely to operate in the workplace.
Use the interview process as an opportunity to address concerns. Sometimes, a new employee’s best performance is in the interview. So use the interview to probe those areas that may concern you.
With the insights you received from the personality assessment, you then can delve deeper into the candidate’s strengths and potential limitations by asking behavior-based questions. For example, if you have concerns about the applicant’s level of resilience or how they deal with rejection, you can ask questions about situations where they struggled or faced disappointment. You also can ask about how the applicant felt in that situation. And what they did to make sure the situation wouldn’t happen again.
Knowing the answers to these questions beforehand will help you bring on the right people and avoid the wrong ones.
Find the right fit and coach for success. As a manager, you want to ensure that your employees hit the ground running, so prepare them by giving them the right tools to be successful. By doing so, new employees will know your company is committed to their success and is willing to invest in their future. By coaching new employees as soon as they start their new jobs and setting up a training program with milestones, they will understand how to avoid potential clashes and adapt their work style to fit in with your organization’s culture.
Herb Greenberg, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of Caliper, an international management consulting firm, which, for more than a half-century, has assessed the potential of more than 3 million individuals for 25,000-plus companies around the world. Headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, Caliper has offices in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and Taiwan. An authority on the relationship between personality and job performance, Dr. Greenberg developed the Caliper Profile, a proprietary personality assessment, which identifies the potential, motivations, and strengths of applicants and employees. Dr. Greenberg co-authored “Succeed on Your Own Terms”, as well as “How To Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer,” both published by McGraw-Hill.