[IPAC-List] The lights finally go on

Jeff Feuquay jfeuquay at gmail.com
Mon Aug 16 16:06:33 EDT 2010

Mark, your posts are enjoyably insightful and provocative . . . and yet
again you've inspired me to pontificate:

There seems to be little argument that effort should be made to find and
place the best available person for a job in the job. I think that's a
rather substantial portion of what we aspire to. It's that word "best"
that's the sticking point . . . maybe. Seems to me in this era of burgeoning
strategic HR (I was surprised to find that it even was HR when not
strategic, but that's another discussion.) Anyway, seems to me that "best"
is *easily *defined by determining the qualifications, characteristics, etc.
which increase the likelihood that an individual will contribute to the
organization achieving its mission(s). So, e.g., does the race/ethnicity of
a personnel analyst at a department of transportation have any effect on the
department's success in building and maintaining roads? Well, maybe. That
is, I can argue that monochromatic staffing could indeed have a chilling
effect on the applicant pool, causing certain applicants not to apply
because they know or at least believe they wouldn't fit in. Over time, a lot
of "best" applicants could be lost.

For that matter, do grades obtained in civil engineering courses have any
effect on an individual's bestness at a DoT? Again, only maybe, but one
would hope so.

Mostly where I end up is that we predict so little of the variance in job
performance, I'm all for piling on as many predictors as we can come up with
that incrementally improve big R, so long as they aren't illegal or just
tasteless when applied. I think the inverse is equally true and probably
more important in minimizing perturbation, i.e., if we'd stop collecting
non-predictive info, we'd save everybody a lot of time and avoid a lot of
skepticism and distrust.

If we were to discuss the definition of "best" with our constituents and
stakeholders (in Mark's original post, managers and candidates), and reach
some level of agreement, seems we'd be closer to helping an
organization achieve its mission. And, that means we'll have earned a
seat in the C Suite, strategic HR nirvana. Yeehah!

Dr. Jeffrey P Feuquay, I/O Psychologist & Attorney
Managing Consultant, Psychology-Law Center, LLC
108 W. Walnut, Nevada, Mo 64772
ofc: 417-667-5076 cell: 417-549-0997

On Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 12:12 PM, Mark Hammer <Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca>wrote:

> Well, there are two issues, I guess. One is the specific case that

> initiated the current bout of grumbling from the right, and questioning

> of EE legislation. And the other is the seemingly perpetual battle with

> those who see policies intended to foster diversity and

> representativeness in government as CONTRARY to merit.


> Issue #1: You're right. The *software* was transparent, but the

> motives underlying it were clearly not. If it was 1980, and the woman

> had walked into a "personnel office" (remember those?), someone might

> have had the decency to tell her that her resumé looks great but they

> were looking for something different at the moment, but they would like

> to hang onto her file anyway. Someone left all of that up to the

> software, and the software didn't do a particularly good job. Of

> course, the applicant could not be expected to understand the rationale

> behind what the software was set up to do in the absence of further a

> priori explanation of the rationale underlying that staffing action.

> There was nothing particularly wrong in the strategy adopted y the

> hiring manager, but there are things software can do, and stuff it

> can't. Breaking bad news is one of things it doesn't do well.

> Predictably, outsourcing the human touch to technology ended up causing

> problems and national headlines unnecessarily.


> Issue #2: Under our law, we make a distinction between essential

> qualifications, and three other factors: asset qualifications,

> organizational needs and operational requirements. Hiring managers must

> show how the appointee meets the essentials, but can also factor in some

> combination of the other 3 (presently it seems from our survey data like

> "operational requirements" is the most commonly applied consideration,

> judging it by the frequency of nominations). Representativeness falls

> under "organizational needs" and is considered a component of merit,

> such that the hiring manager can (assuming it's defensible) explicitly

> target an under-represented group in the poster, the same way they might

> target people with expertise in some area, or simply use it as a

> "tie-breaker". Of course, should they not find anyone suitably

> qualified from that group, they can certainly mutter "aw shucks" and

> select from among those meeting the essential qualifications outside

> that group. Or perhaps they can re-advertise if they're not in a hurry,

> but the law at least lets them focus for starters.


> The notion that a manager would normally go beyond mere "essential

> qualifications" in making a selection decision is the part that seems to

> be lost on those who find something suspicious and pernicious in

> diversity strategies. My argument is that applicants/candidates don't

> anticipate managerial reasoning and selection decisions, and managers

> and the policy community don't effectively anticipate candidate

> assumptions.


> Mark


> >>> "Doverspike,Dennis" <dd1 at uakron.edu> 2010/08/16 12:23 PM >>>

> Mark,


> I am not sure I understand the whole story. But it appears from reading

> the incident you put at the end - that candidates that were white were

> specifically excluded from applying for the job and were told that was

> the case by the software. At least the software was transparent, I

> believe that is where the controversy really starts from, the lack of

> transparency, not from differences in the definition of merit. But

> returning to your story, you are arguing that setting up a system that

> specifically excluded whites falls under what definition?


> >

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