“Groundbreaking research shows how ‘Can Do’ and ‘Will Do’ competencies show themselves on the job,” says Dr. David Jones
January 7, 2013 – “When we released Million-Dollar Hire: Build Your Bottom Line, One Employee at a Time (Jossey-Bass, April 2011), we explained how important it is to gain a view of ‘the whole candidate’ when making a hiring decision,” says Dr. David Jones. “Since then, we’ve worked with employers to dig deeper and find hard, objective data that show just how ‘Can Do’ and ‘Will Do’ competencies work together to drive job performance. A recent assignment illustrated the concept amazingly,” adds Jones.
In the assignment, the HirePayoff™ team worked with a retailer staffing distribution centers across the U.S. Work involved implementing the HirePayoff™ recruiting and selection employment testing tool to drive finding workers who unload incoming shipments, place inventory, pick inventory to fill customer orders, and load outgoing shipments. The employer’s goal – find those who hit the company’s productivity standard; a hard metric tracked electronically and used to frame each employee’s overall compensation.
“After reviewing the ‘Can Do’ and ‘Will Do’ competencies required by the jobs, the team framed the HirePayoff™ tool to assess basic ‘Can Do’ cognitive skills competencies such as reading, math, and need for visual speed and accuracy. We also assembled a ‘Will Do’ employee assessment to measure competencies such as dependability, drive to succeed, and team play,” says Jones. While some view these areas as reflecting basic personality testing, the HirePayoff™ tool extends beyond traditional personality assessment to gain a broader of the candidate’s ‘Will Do’ competencies.
Next, the team took it’s standard approach to assessing the value of the HirePayoff™ tool. Rather than using the typical assessment industry argument of “trust us, it works,” the team assessed nearly 100 current employees with the tool, and linked their scores with their past 90 days’ productivity metrics. The result – a solid, quantitative way to learn just how the new screening tool forecasts on-the-job performance – hiring process test validation. “Results showed the tool predicted on-the-job performance very well; the payoff was clear” says Jones.
“We were surprised, though, with just how the HirePayoff™ ‘Can Do’ and ‘Will Do’ employee testing scores predicted productivity in the test validity study. ‘Will Do’ scores carried nearly twice the weight of ‘Can Do’ scores in predicting productivity,” says Jones. “The qualities of drive to succeed and dependability appeared to really shape productivity. We were surprised at the much weaker role played by ‘Will Do’ competencies,” Jones adds.
Next, a major market differentiator of the HirePayoff™ solution was launched. After completing test validity research with current employees, new hire performance was tracked, using the tool’s New Hire Performance Check-Up to collect performance information from new hires’ supervisors 90 days post-hire. “Here’s where things became really interesting,” says Jones. “Our focus was on making sure the employee testing process worked as well with candidates as it did in forecasting current employees’ productivity. Why? So we could continue to look for improvements in how HirePayoff™ was being used… and so we could continue to avoid the market’s “trust us, it works” rationale… more validation work,” Jones adds.
The employer had screened nearly 600, and hired more than 200 workers in early 2012, and then used the New Hire Performance Check-Up to collect information about their job performance and turnover rate. “Even after screening out those who failed to meet HirePayoff™ employee testing standards, new hires’ scores showed a significant relationship with their initial on-the-job performance,” says Jones. “But now, things were different… new hire ‘Can Do’ competencies far outweighed ‘Will Do’ competencies in predicting job performance,” Jones adds.
One fact was clear immediately – the New Hire Performance Check-Up was based on employees’ performance during the first 90 days, but the study of current workers had been based on a group with average tenure of more than nine years. “So, one analysis looked at long-term performance… one looked at new hire performance. The HirePayoff™ tool predicted performance at both points in time; it’s just that ‘Can Do’ competencies predicted initial performance best, and ‘Will Do’ competencies predicted long-term performance best,” adds Jones.
“It makes great sense. A new hire needs to learn the job, refine what they do and how they do it, and learn what behaviors lead to productivity. It’s ‘Can Do’ competencies that shape these results. Later, once the job is learned, ‘Will Do’ competencies take over. Lots of us have believed this for some time, but the data in these two projects make it so very clear,” says Jones.
“So the next big question – Exactly when does ‘Will Do’ take over? That’s what we’ve set out to find with additional studies,” says Jones. “The answer is probably different for different types of jobs, but data, not speculation, will answer the question. What holds, though, is fact – both ‘Can Do’ and ‘Will Do’ competencies combine to predict job performance. There’s no question about this,” adds Jones.
One more fact came to light in reviewing candidates’ scores on the HirePayoff™ measure. “Every employer today knows that avoiding adverse impact and employment discrimination in a hiring process is a concern when making hiring decisions. This is why we document so clearly how our screening methods work through test validation,” says Jones. “Here, review of candidates’ scores on the HirePayoff™ employee test showed not only that they predicted new hire performance, but that there were absolutely no differences between the scores achieved by white, African American, and Hispanic candidates, yielding diversity in hiring.” More on this in upcoming releases…
David Jones, PhD, author of Million-Dollar Hire: Building Your Bottom Line, One Employee at a Time, published in April, 2011 by Jossey-Bass, is among the few HR professionals to found and grow a major international HR consulting business. In Million-Dollar Hire he shows how, even in a slow economy, U.S. employers make millions of hiring decisions every month. Every decision carries risk. Every hire is an investment. Ideally, every hiring decision pays a return. Using practical, real world illustrations, Jones shows there are tools to treat every hiring decision with the same focus a business applies in acquiring other high-value assets.
Today, Jones is president of Growth Ventures Inc., whose HirePayoff™ division works with employers to implement ‘Can Do’ and ‘Will Do’ online employee testing. Through HirePayoff™, Jones helps companies re-invent their recruitment and selection practices and add to the bottom line with re-engineered, legally compliant tools. For more information, visit www.hirepayoff.com.
Dr. David Jones
President & CEO