The Call - Fall 2012 - (Page 32)

F E AT U R E By James E. Kuthy, Ph.D. and Heather J. Patchell, M.A., CritiCall Pre-Employment Testing Software/Biddle Consulting Group, Inc. A recent trend in the popular management literature has been to encourage employers to focus on a job applicant’s attitude instead of their skill or ability. One source that has been cited for this trend is the book Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy. In that book, Murphy indicated that research his organization conducted found that 89 percent of the time, if a new hire fails, they fail for attitude, not for skills. This claim has apparently led some, such as Dr. Dan Bobinski, the CEO and director of the Center for Workplace Excellence, to state, “Applicants with the right attitude can learn whatever skills are required of them.” However, a study published by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST; Weiner, 1997), HIRE FOR ATTITUDE based on analysis of data from 131 public safety agencies, found the virtual opposite when it comes to public safety dispatchers and call takers. The POST report indicated that approximately 20 percent of the turnover of public safety dispatchers/call takers during the first year of employment was a result of “attitudes, motivation, work habits, etc.” The remaining 80 percent was due to a lack of sufficient knowledge, skill, and/or ability to perform the job. While accounting for 20 percent of turnover is substantial, it does not by itself support the idea that measurement of skills or abilities should be abandoned during the pre-employment selection process. What should be employed is a more wholeperson approach to testing. Specifically, during the preemployment selection process, organizations should be looking to identify the candidates who possess both the skills and attitude to successfully perform the position in question. So, what is an “attitude”? Social Psychologist Icek Ajzen from the University of Massachusetts states an attitude is “a disposition to respond favorably or unfavorably to an object, person, institution, or event” (2008; page 3). Ajzen takes this one step further, also indicating that attitudes are multidimensional; composed of cognitive (e.g., beliefs), affective (i.e., “evaluations of, and feelings toward, the attitude object” page 4), and conative (e.g., intentions, inclinations, or commitments) response tendencies. In other words, an attitude has several layers, each of which can potentially affect a person’s performance at work. A meta-analysis by Judge, Thorensen, Bono, and Patton (2001) found an average observed (uncorrected) correlation between job satisfaction and job performance of .18 (K = 312, N = 54,471, p < .01). Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch, and Topolynytsky (2002) reported a weighted average corrected correlation of affective commitment (i.e., emotional attachment to, and identification with, and involvement in an organization) to job performance of .16 (K = 25, N = 5,938). Other meta-analytic ABSTRACT A recent trend in the popular management literature has been to encourage employers to focus on a job applicant’s attitude instead of their skill or ability. Using research from public safety agencies focusing on dispatchers/call takers, this paper emphasizes the importance of testing both skill and attitude during the pre-employment process. Keywords: skill, ability, attitude, public-safety, dispatcher, testing 32 | THE CALL | FALL 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Fall 2012

President’s Message
From the CEO
Government Affairs
Tech Trends
Committee Corner
Education & Operational Issues
Communications Center Staffing
Developing the Leaders for Tomorrow
Risk Management in the PSAP
Hire for Skill and Attitude
Index to Advertisers/

The Call - Fall 2012