The recruitment and selection of high performing leaders and managers are central to the human resources strategy of most organisations. Numerous studies attest to the efficacy of combining both cognitive ability and personality assessment tools in selection, promotion and development as these yield high validity (Busato, Prins, Elshout & Hamaker, 2000; Lievens, Harris, Van Keer & Bisqueret, 2003; Roberts, Kuncel, Shiner, Caspi & Goldberg, 2007).
A recent South African study looked at two ability and personality assessment tools, the Swift Analysis Aptitude-R and the Wave Professional Styles to evaluate the extent to which these were able to predict managerial performance. The study found significant relationships between these assessment tools and how managers performed their jobs.
How the study was conducted
Three hundred and ten (310) managers employed by a telecommunications company were recruited to participate in the study. The three criteria used to measure job performance were managers KPA’s overall rating for the years 2012/2013; 2013/2014 and an Average 360 Performance Rating which consisted of a supervisor rating across a range of behavioural dimensions related to their work areas.
Managers who completed the Swift Analysis Aptitude-R were further split by ethnicity into a White group and an Other Ethnicity group to investigate test bias. The Other Ethnicity group consisted of persons belonging to African, Coloured, Foreign and Indian ethnicities.
The study found the Swift Analysis Aptitude-R to be a significant predictor of job performance in the managers groups. Specifically, the Swift Analysis Aptitude-R total score was positively and significantly related to the supervisor’s ratings (r=0.15, p<0.05) while the numerical subtest of this tool also positively correlated with managers KPA’s for 2013/2014 (r=0.16, p<0.01).
Results from the Wave Professional Styles indicated that managers who received high scores for their 2013/2014 KPA’s were those who were adept at Evaluating Problems, Investigating Issues and Creating Innovation. What is of interest is that significant negative relationships were found for the dimensions of Building Relationships and Giving Support which suggests that managers who were analytically inclined received higher ratings than those who exhibited behaviours which were more supportive and people oriented.
The Swift Analysis Aptitude-R was further evaluated for test bias. The results showed that no evidence was found for either the White group or the Other Ethnicities group. This provides assurance that this assessment tool did not under-predict nor did it over-predict performance for any of the groups.
This study provided valuable insights into what predicts job performance when recruiting and selecting high performing leaders. These findings suggest that managers who have higher analytical ability, more specifically, numerical reasoning skills are likely to be rated as more effective across a range of work areas. The study also highlighted key behavioural aspects of high performing managers. The non-bias nature of the assessments as well as the predictive nature of the study provides confidence that when the Swift Analysis Aptitude-R is used alongside the Wave Professional Styles for recruitment and selection purposes, job performance can be effectively predicted.
Lievens, F., Harris, M. M., Van Keer, E., & Bisqueret, C. (2003). Predicting cross-cultural training performance: the validity of personality, cognitive ability, and dimensions measured by an assessment center and a behavior description interview. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(3), 476.
Roberts, B. W., Kuncel, N. R., Shiner, R., Caspi, A., & Goldberg, L. R. (2007). The power of personality: The comparative validity of personality traits, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability for predicting important life outcomes. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(4), 313-345.
Busato, V. V., Prins, F. J., Elshout, J. J., & Hamaker, C. (2000). Intellectual ability, learning style, personality, achievement motivation and academic success of psychology students in higher education. Personality and Individual differences, 29(6), 1057-1068.