Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Will Disruptive People Answer Honestly?

When developing the questions for the Workplace Attitudes Test I was concerned that problem employees would not provide extreme responses. For example, take the following options:

Q. When someone insults or slights me . . . (select one of the following answers)

A. I tend to remember it a very long time.
B. I can hold a grudge, but not often.
C. at first I get irritated, but soon forget it.

Turns out, I did not need to be concerned because they did select some extreme answers. In this case, the extreme answer is “A.” In follow-up interviews I discovered that people with strong or extreme attitudes are proud of these attitudes. They tend to believe in absolutes. Later, correlating extreme answers with job performance suggested that attitudinal rigidity inclines one to disruptive behavior.

I am reminded of Lee Marvin’s line in the movie, Paint Your Wagon. He said, “When I was conceived, my parents did not have the benefit of marriage but you, sir, are a self-made man.” It turns out that there are a lot of self-made men (and women) out there and they are proud of their status.

If you listen carefully you can often hear, “You’ve got to watch your back all the time,” “You can’t trust anyone,” and “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.” Yep, people will tell you what they really think if you just give them a chance.

Skilled interviewers can sometimes pick up on attitudinal rigidity but most often the interviewer concentrates on “can do the job” rather than “will do the job.” Also many interviewers may feel it is not polite to ask these types of questions. That is why the Workplace Attitudes Test is so valuable. It asks questions that you may not be inclined to ask face-to-face, and people are willing to answer accurately. For more info see, http://www.workplaceattitudes.com.

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