Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Final research update of 2011

Welcome to the last HR Tests research update of 2011! This year has been filled with research developments, building on previous thinking as well as venturing out into new areas. Let's see what the end of the year brings us (hint: a lot)...

We'll start with the Winter 2011 issue of Personnel Psychology:

- If you're looking for executives who excel at strategic thinking, you'll want to pay attention to not only their cognitive ability but their accumulated work history, according to Dragoni, et al.

- I tend to think of realistic job previews (RJPs) as occurring pre-hire, but research by Earnest, et al. suggests that an effective technique is to conduct an oral and written RJP post-hire--and be as honest as possible.

- Meta-analyses are relied upon heavily as summaries of large bodies of research. Roth, et al. point out ways we can make them better, particularly with respect to estimates of validity and group differences.

- One of the downsides of cognitive ability tests is they're not always perceived very well by applicants. Sumanth & Cable show how this perception is influenced by the status of the organization as well as individual status.

- Next, a fascinating description of a scale to measure the idea of calling by Dobrow and Tosti-Kharas. What I found most interesting was how the measure was associated with different criteria for different domains (e.g., art, music, management). You can read a draft version here.

Let's turn now to the January issue of JOB:

- Political skill is a hot topic, and Gentry, et al. demonstrate how the perception of promotability related to this skill varies between bosses, peers, and direct reports. Long story short: it differs, and also depends on behavior (attitude will only take you so far, right?). You can read the full version (at least right now!) here.

- Anyone that's worked with (or has in their family) engineers or scientists knows that they often share some strong traits. This suggests leading these groups that engage in creative activity may require specific attributes, which is what Robledo, et al. set out to describe.

On to the January issue of JOM:

- Core self-evaluation (CSE) is another hot topic, and Chang, et al. provide an important review of 15 years of research, including the meta-analytic support for CSE predicting in-role and extra-role performance.

- Boswell, et al. provide an integrative review of the concept of job search across different situations (e.g., following job loss, while employed).

- One area that deserves more attention is selection into the highest positions within organizations. Withers, et al. provide a review of the process of selecting a director for a board.

Let's not forget v41(2) of Personnel Review:

- Hoglund delves into the topic of talent management as a strategic HRM practice. A fascinating topic that reinforces the importance of HRM as an influence over employee perceptions and behavior.

- The wording of job ads can have important impacts on applicant perceptions and behavior. De Cooman and Pepermans analyze the differences between for-profit and non-profit job ads, and show how only a fraction of the information potentially relevant for job-person match is published.

- Another topic that deserves additional attention is the motivation to expatriate. Altman and Baruch describe results of a qualitative study that may be useful to organizations thinking about attracting and selecting for positions that require this substantial move.

Don't forget this one:

- Johnson, et al. with an important reminder that when looking at the issue of discrimination, using single categories to define groups is probably not the best strategy.

Whew! And last but certainly not least, in the December issue of IOP, Michael McDaniel and colleagues present an argument (similar to ones made elsewhere) that the Uniform Guidelines are outdated and, worse than that, a detriment to the field of selection. The commentaries are many and range from support to passionate disagreement, with a healthy dose of caution (and dare I say...intransigence?) thrown in. Worth a read, particularly for those following the Guidelines literally and those engaged in related litigation. You can read a draft version here.

I hope everyone has a great New Years; here's to a wonderful 2012!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Forget leadership assessment centers: Use the fat face test

All that time your organization spends on leadership assessment? Throw it out. New research indicates that CEOs with fat faces perform better, so just get out your measuring tape.

Okay, I'm oversimplifying. But this research by Wong and her colleagues is fascinating.

They looked at 55 photos of male CEOs and linked facial width to firm performance. Results? CEOs with higher "facial ratios" (face width relative to face height) led organizations that had "significantly greater firm financial performance."

Why facial width? Previous research has indicated this characteristic is related to aggression and sense of power. People who feel powerful tend to focus more on the big picture rather than little details, and tend to be better at staying on task.

Why men? The relationship between face ratio and behavior has been found to be important only in men. Something to do with testosterone.

But wait, don't throw out your work sample tests quite yet. The researchers also found that the relationship between facial ratio and firm performance was moderated by the style of the leadership team. The relationship was stronger in teams that were "cognitively simple" and saw things in black-or-white terms, apparently due to deference to authority. Not exactly something most organizations dream of. Presumably leadership teams with more nuanced views of the world rely on things beyond what shape their leader's head is.

Yes, I'm being tongue-in-cheek here. But if nothing else, this type of research reinforces the complex and important relationships between genetics, perceptions, and behavior.