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Want better employees? Get somebody else to rate their personalities

Date:
November 14, 2012
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
Businesses will get more accurate assessments of potential and current employees if they do away with self-rated personality tests and ask those being assessed to find someone else to rate them, suggest results from a new study.
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Businesses will get more accurate assessments of potential and current employees if they do away with self-rated personality tests and ask those being assessed to find someone else to rate them, suggest results from a new study.

Previous job performance studies have shown that outsiders are best at rating an individual's personality in terms of how they work on the job. But observers in these studies have always been co-workers.

The recent paper by Prof. Brian Connelly, who is cross-appointed to the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and the University of Toronto Scarborough, and Prof. Ute Hülsheger of Maastricht University, is the first to delve into whether co-workers are the best judges of personality because they are more familiar with a job's requirements and know the individual in a work context, or whether any outside observer can be a good judge.

Taking results from a German-based study of 111 employees who self-rated and then were rated by 106 personal acquaintances (including family members) and 102 co-workers, the paper found both types of outside observers gave equally fair evaluations of other people.

"It's not so much that observers are thinking only about the one particular context that the evaluation is for, but it's more that they have a less clouded view of a person," says Prof. Connelly.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality, also found that people who overestimated their agreeableness and conscientiousness (the most predictive for performance) performed worse on the job than those who did not overestimate these traits. This is something Prof. Connelly compares to the "Michael Scott" phenomenon, referring to a lead character on the popular television show The Office, who has little self-awareness or insight into why those working for him do not enjoy their jobs more.

Despite these findings, self-rated vs. observer-rated personality assessments are the norm at organizations that use personality tests as an evaluation tool.

"One possible thing would be for those applying for jobs to nominate someone else to rate their personality rather than doing it themselves, and then you might have a better workforce," says Prof. Connelly.

Observer-rated personality measures may also be more useful for current employees getting developmental feedback on the job.

"If we're basing all the responses on self-reports, which is the norm, rather than having somebody else giving them the feedback, then we may be handing people's biased perceptions right back to them," says Prof. Connelly.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian S. Connelly, Ute R. Hülsheger. A Narrower Scope or a Clearer Lens for Personality? Examining Sources of Observers’ Advantages Over Self-Reports for Predicting Performance. Journal of Personality, 2012; 80 (3): 603 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2011.00744.x

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University of Toronto. "Want better employees? Get somebody else to rate their personalities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121114153145.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2012, November 14). Want better employees? Get somebody else to rate their personalities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121114153145.htm
University of Toronto. "Want better employees? Get somebody else to rate their personalities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121114153145.htm (accessed July 29, 2015).

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