Saturday, January 31, 2015

Federal civil service reform is HR reform

Texas.  Georgia.  Washington.  Florida.  California.

What do these states have in common?  They are some of the states that have undertaken civil service reform in an attempt to modernize and streamline all those laws and rules associated with human resources.

The U.S. federal government is no stranger to reform efforts either.  In the latest issue of Government Executive magazine, there is an interesting article about the challenges associated with the current state of affairs in the U.S. federal civil service--the largest employer in the world.  Things like excessively long time-to-hire, outdated hiring rules, and onerous discipline systems.  There are efforts afoot (again) to fix this.

They could very easily have been talking about state or local civil service systems.  Or--in many places--HR in general.

Here are some selected quotes.  See if any of them sound familiar...

"...'if you don’t view your HR specialist as a consultant prior to posting the vacancy announcements, then you are going to get people who are not qualified for your job.'"

"USAJobs, the government’s online warehouse of job vacancies, is still difficult to navigate and lacks sophisticated search capabilities to help applicants find positions that meet their interests and qualifications."

“'What we’ve seen across managers,...they are almost sourcing a unicorn...They could be looking at too technical or specialized of a skill set, or they are looking for too many competencies or experiences creating this kind of applicant that we can’t actually find.'”

"When HR and program supervisors work closely throughout the hiring process, communicating at every stage, it increases the likelihood that the system works the way it should: fairly, as expeditiously as possible, and yielding the most qualified candidates for the job."

It's worth a read, and I bet many of you will find much that resonates.  None of the principles behind reform are particularly revolutionary, but for various reasons many organizations have difficulty getting it right.  There are no shortcuts to outstanding HR systems, and only those organizations that recognize the strategic and competitive value inherent in a talented, engaged workforce will put the required resources into ensuring that it's done right.

Next time: research update

Sunday, January 04, 2015

2014 Research of the Year (+ research update)

Happy New Year!  As I've done in previous years, I present below the research articles I ran across in this area that I think were the most impactful and/or important of 2014.  But first, let's catch up on two issues:

First, the Winter issue of Personnel Psychology:

- Situational judgment tests have been shown to be useful for measuring interpersonal skills, but beware: levels of "angry hostility" moderate that relationship.  (Is there a happy hostility?)

- When hiring leaders, should you look for those that have a busy home life, or be wary of them?  In this fascinating study, the authors found that leader family-to-work conflict negatively impacts followers in that it can increase their burnout. However, family-to-work enrichment increased follower engagement through leader engagement.  So the answer is, as usual, not simple: home/family life can be a good thing for followers if it makes the leader more engaged; but if the home/family life is increasing burnout, the leader may pass that along to others.  So it would seem it all depends on how the individual is handling their life outside of work!

Let's look at the November issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology:

- Are men or women perceived as better leaders?  According to this meta-analysis, it depends on how you ask the question.  If you limit the question to other-ratings, women are rated significantly higher.  But if you look at self-ratings, men rate themselves significantly higher.  Which leads to the next question: is it a biological perception or a gender perception, and if the latter, what traits are the most important?

- An intriguing study of how applicant confidence interacts with and can be altered by the recruitment experience, in this case among recruits for the U.S. military.

- Next, a study of employment and job search efficacy.  Not surprisingly, within-person frequency of job search behavior correlated with job offers; interestingly, the relationship between perceived job search progress and efficacy beliefs were moderated by beliefs of internal attribution.

- Last but not least, more evidence of the importance of defining the criteria when predicting job performance.  In this meta-analysis, the researchers found more support for personality traits out-predicting cognitive ability in predicting counterproductive work behavior, that the two predictors are approximately equal in predicting organizational citizenship behaviors, and that cognitive ability outperforms personality when predicting task and overall performance.  So do you want high task performance, OCBs, or do you want to avoid CWB?  :)  (of course the situation is even more complicated depending on whether you're looking at individual, team, leader performance, over what period of time, etc.)

Okay, on to the awards!  Without further ado, here are my nominations for Research of the Year for 2014:

1) Important advancements in our understanding of weight-based discrimination at work: Vanhove & Gordon.

2) A study of applicants posting faux pas on their social networking sites: Roulin.

3) Two important looks at assessments delivered remotely via mobile devices: Arthur, Doverspike, Munoz, Taylor, & Carr, and Morelli, Mahan, & Illingworth.

4) Two fascinating looks at personality at work: Judge, Simon, Hurst, & Kelley; and Wille & De Fruyt

5) An excellent study of how effective staffing and training practices impact firm-level flexibility and adaptability: Kim & Ployhart.

6) An important study of the movement of impactful I/O researchers to business schools: Aguinis, Bradley, & Brodersen.

7) The relationship between conscientiousness and job performance is more accurately described as curvilinear: Carter, Dalal, Boyce, O'Connell, Kung & Delgado

Finally, honorable mention to two great developments in 2014:  the change of some publishers to making access to articles more affordable, and the announcement of an additional journal, the Journal of Personnel Assessment and Decisions.

I'm continually amazed at the quality of thought and research in our area and the passion and practicality you exhibit.  Here's to an amazing 2014 and more in 2015!