Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Improving the Fit between Organizations and Employees

Academic journal article SAM Advanced Management Journal

Improving the Fit between Organizations and Employees

Article excerpt

Many organizations are beginning to face the challenge of hiring and retaining more employees to fill entry-level manager positions. The waning era of downsizing has left many organizations with little or no surplus of management talent, while conditioning prospective managers to anticipate frequent job moves.(1) As a result firms are faced with needs to replenish their organizations with entry-level managers - particularly in industries perceived to be less prestigious or where management duties are more strenuous.

Although human resource managers are well aware of the exorbitant costs associated with hiring and termination, a second problem exacerbates the effects of the shortage. Entry-level managers, especially those emerging from U.S. business schools, have learned several key lessons about career development. Most have more job experience upon graduation than their predecessors of previous decades. The proliferation of white-collar downsizing, coupled with fewer opportunities for advancement within organizations, has taught them to anticipate less upward mobility and frequent job changes. They have learned that staying with a single firm for "too long" can limit one's opportunities if a subsequent wave of downsizing occurs. Hence, management graduates no longer associate career advancement only with the corporate fast track, but also with leaving positions either for promotions in other organizations or to start their own enterprises.

This emergence of more savvy, skeptical, and experienced business school graduates, willing and able to take greater responsibility for their own careers, coupled with declining number of business majors in U.S. colleges and universities, is creating a challenge for organizations trying to expand. Given the growing competitiveness for management talent, increasing the quantity of quality applicants seeking career growth within a single company is an arduous task. Hence, growing organizations must modify their selection and retention strategies to meet their human resource needs in a changing environment.

There is growing evidence that one solution to this quandary hinges on improving the fit between managers and their organizations. Two key components of this solution have achieved greater acceptance among organizations in the U.S. during the past decade: (1) pre-employment tests for personality-related factors to address fit before a manager is hired, and (2) management mentoring programs to improve fit and increase retention after the manager is hired. This investigation reviews current research on these approaches and offers suggestions for implementation.

The Role of Personality Testing

Employers are valuing adaptability more and experience less in selection decisions? As a result, many companies are currently testing applicants in unprecedented numbers in efforts to reduce the rising costs associated with hiring mistakes. Others are using situational interviews and patterned behavior description interviews to probe personality traits. Written tests are most common among large companies?

When personality testing became widespread in the 1980s, two schools of thought developed. The "pro-testing" school asserted that personality is associated with success in most occupations and should be considered along with skills and experience in the selection process. Proponents argued that the skills required to perform a job may change over time and only individuals well suited for a particular vocation or realm of responsibility will successfully change with the job.

In contrast, an "anti-testing" school stressed that only job behaviors are important and that assessing personality can result in the "cloning" of individuals who think alike in an organization and in discrimination against highly qualified applicants who possess the "wrong personality." Proponents of this school argued that tests are biased and could be easily manipulated by applicants. …

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