Thursday, February 21, 2008

How Does One Get a High Warning Signal on the Workplace Attitude Test?

When a job candidate takes the Workplace Attitude Test it is possible to get a warning signal score on one or more of the nine attitudes tested. A high score or warning signal could indicate the type of individual that David Brooks of the New York Times refers to as “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know.”

Overall, it usually identifies someone who has difficulty getting along with others. I will explain how this is calculated after we look at the attitudes that are measured. My research has shown that all nine are relevant to getting along with others in the workplace

Judgmental versus accepting
Propensity to defend one's rights, a strong sense of right and wrong, may have a compulsion to intervene in a controversy.

Vindictive versus forgiving
Tends to keep track of obligations as well as perceived slights and insults, may
have the propensity to persist in the attempt to “correct” the situation.

Adversarial versus accommodating
Limited understanding of the needs and desires of other people and generally- accepted social obligations.

Egocentric versus people oriented
May be disinclined to assist fellow workers, limited obligation to customers, and a general unwillingness to make sacrifices for the good of the organization.

Entitled versus unassuming
May assume that they are not being rewarded sufficiently, tends to see work as an obligation rather than an opportunity, and may have a sense of entitlement.

Undisciplined versus self-disciplined
Limited commitment to finish projects without supervision.

Insubordinate versus respectful
Tends to doubt people in authority and the chain of command, may question that "rank has its privileges," oftentimes unwilling to seek help from a superior.

Risk-Inclined versus cautious
Generally unwilling to delay decisions in order to get more information, disinclined to check with others, and limited regard for record keeping.

Non-Traditional versus traditional
Oftentimes little desire to understand past events, rules and regulations, or work-related ceremonies.

Each of these attitudes can be assumed to exist on a continuum. For example, one’s attitude can go from very judgmental to very accepting. This is determined by asking five questions for each of the attitudes and providing three possible answers for each question. Here is an example of a judgmental question.

Q Overall . . . (select one answer)

1 Right is right and wrong is wrong and people should know the difference.
2 Rules should be enforced, but with some discretion.
3 Every situation is different and it is hard to apply universal rules.

For each question there is an extreme, average and moderate answer. In order to score high on the attitude being measured, the respondent must answer three extreme and at least two moderate answers. Our research has shown that extreme answers indicate strong negative attitudes that are not conducive to getting along with others.

It would seem to be quite difficult to achieve extreme scores but about one in twenty people do it. When they are interviewed concerning their answers, they tend to report that their answers accurately reflect their view of the world. This is, after all, what attitudes are defined to be. They are the filters through which we see the world. This reminds me of the Spanish expression “Cada cabeza es un mundo.” It translates to “each head is a world.” Our goal is understand those worlds so they don’t collide. I’ll have to admit that I might have carried this analogy too far, but if you really want to use your cabeza refer to

In an upcoming article I will discuss how to interpret the scores based on types of work environments.

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