A new study finds that industry professionals equate job success to different competency models for different employment levels — and consequently have expectations that selection and training assessments for should be more highly context-specific than what is typically offered by testing vendors.
Selection assessments like 20|20 Skills™ are common practice to help reduce employee turnover in the service-hospitality industry, but little research has been conducted to identify the employee characteristics that are valued most highly by Human Resources professionals in the industry. Therefore, a sample of managers and human resource professionals (n = 108) participated in a special online survey and rated the perceived importance of thirty-one performance traits (competency and personality based) for Line, Middle and Senior level employees.
Leading-edge Rasch scaling (item response theory) analyses 3,5 revealed there was strong consensus among the respondents. Non-social skills, abilities and traits such as Ethical Awareness, Self-motivation, Writing Skills, Verbal ability, Creativity and Problem Solving were rated as more important for higher-level employees. By contrast, traits that directly affect the interaction with customers and coworkers (Service Orientation, Communication Style, Agreeableness, Sense of Humor, Sensitivity to Diversity, Group Process and Team Building) were rated as more important for lower level employees. This latter finding substantiates a continued trend for mangers or hiring professionals not to necessarily value General Mental Ability when hiring at lower levels4, even though previous research has shown that General Mental Ability is the single strongest predictor of job performance across employment levels 1,2. Respondents’ age or sex did not substantially alter these cumulative findings.
Besides confirming the growing and positive trend of practitioners to move away from personality-based testing in favor of competency-based models, the findings underscore that industry professionals expect selection and training assessments to have content that is customized by industry and employment level. This market development calls into serious question the usefulness or meaningfulness of the traditional approach taken by many testing vendors, whereby so-called “industry-specific norms” are established for content that is overly broad in scope and intended to cover many types of industries. Thus, 20|20 Assessment™ strongly recommends that companies looking for suitable performance management tools conduct due diligence on vendors to determine whether their selection and training assessments really have industry-specific content and norms.
Please contact the author for a copy of the full study – Lange, R., & Houran, J. (2009). Perceived importance of employees’ traits in the service industry. Psychological Reports, 104, 567-578.