Sunday, March 2, 2008

Using The Workplace Attitudes Test With Existing Employees and The Supervisor Who Was Too Good

In most cases, people are hired for their aptitude and fired for their attitude. The primary goal of the Workplace Attitudes Test is to identify prospective employees with problem attitudes so the interviewer has the info and may decide not to hire them. In fact our welcome aboard letter reads as follows:


You are about to enter a new era of employee selection. This is truly a breakthrough. Now for the first time you can understand the values that motivate potential employees. When selecting new hires you can avoid the landmines while you pick the cherries.

Without getting too complicated, we analyze workplace attitudes to predict likely behavior.

Wouldn’t you like to avoid potential employees who may sue you or your company?
How about identifying gadflies who would rather socialize than work?
Maybe you would like to know about people who are likely to be hostile to your customers or clients?
Conversely, how would you like to find people who are grateful to have a job, who are willing to put in extra effort, and who are team players?

Now you can.

All you need to do is have job candidates take the Workplace Attitudes Test which consists of forty-five questions, and we will evaluate it for you. You then receive a bar chart that describes the individual’s relevant workplace values and an overall score that tells you how likely they are to be disruptive in the work place. Remember, everyone is on their best behavior during the job interview. With the Workplace Attitudes Test you are in a position to hire good employees by avoiding bad ones. It makes you a better interviewer and applies to a variety of environments including business, non-profits, and the public sector.

Just because Ben Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird doesn’t mean that you have to hire one

This sums up the primary purpose of the Workplace Attitudes Test. Still, many companies have used it to evaluate and help existing employees. I used to think that this was a little like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. After all, once a person has worked for your organization you should know who has problem attitudes.

Also, the test reports on bad attitudes and as mentioned these are difficult to discuss. For example, an interviewer might not want to say “I see here that you are quite judgmental” or “I note that you tend to be a bit vindictive.” Dale Carnegie who wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People” would not approve.

You can have the information but you don’t need to state it in a negative way. Each attitude relevant to the workplace is not single dimension, rather it exists on a continuum. That is, each bad attitude that is related to “disruptive behavior” has a corresponding attitude that is related to “getting along with people.” Next, I will look at the nine attitudes to show you what I mean.

Judgmental versus Accepting

Vindictive versus Forgiving

Adversarial versus Accommodating

Egocentric versus People-Oriented

Entitled versus Unassuming

Undisciplined versus Self-Disciplined

Insubordinate versus Respectful

Risk-Inclined versus Cautious

Non-Traditional versus Traditional

Each of the “bad” or disruptive attitudes has a corresponding “good” of socially-skilled attitude. Note our research has shown that the bad attitudes are disruptive only when they are extreme.

When working with existing employees and when reporting the results to a job candidate, it is the positive attitudes that are reported. It is important for the interviewer to understand that extreme and negative attitudes are warning signals, but is better to report the results in a positive way.

Although, it is the primary goal of the Workplace Attitudes Test to screen out potentially disruptive employees it is also useful for matching people to different types of workplace environments and to help some employees perform their jobs better.

In terms of matching people to work environments, command-and-control workplaces such as the military or the Catholic Church will likely find that individuals with respect for tradition and a respect for authority tend to fit in better. Conversely, entrepreneurial or team-building organizations may not need as much respect for authority and tradition and would prosper with people who are more self-disciplined and people oriented.

In one instance, the Workplace Attitude Test helped a young supervisor work with older sales representatives. Joyce was in her late twenties and supervised six sales reps who were twice her age. She did a great job. All of her reports were done on time, her meetings were short and efficient all of her staff liked her, business was great and she was miserable.

She wasn’t sure why she was miserable and discussions with her boss didn’t help. The big boss wanted to keep her and gave her raises and more time off, but still she was miserable. At that time, the Workplace Attitudes Test was under development and the entire staff agreed to take the test. No one had warning signals but the test solved the mystery.

Joyce proved to be accepting, forgiving, accommodating, people-oriented, unassuming, self-discipline somewhat cautious and very traditional.

Joyce’s sales reps were, well, sales reps. They too had good people skills, but they had little respect for authority, were a bit undisciplined, and quite entitled.

In short, Joyce wanted to please people, and her sales reps tended to take advantage of her. She met everyone’s needs but her own.

I am reminded of a great quote from the movie, “Three Days of the Condor” when a young CIA agent asks a grizzled old veteran played by John Housman, “What do you miss about the old days (referring World War II)?” Houseman replied, “The clarity.”

Joyce finally had clarity and the story has a happy ending. Joyce got a private office and a gatekeeper secretary. The sales reps could no longer barge in and talk to her at anytime. They had to make an appointment, unless it was critical, and they received an incentive to get their reports on time.

Joyce regained her sanity and the organization kept a good supervisor. To learn more, see

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