[IPAC-List] Getting people into jobs they're gonna love

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Mon Jun 6 14:33:03 EDT 2011

This past week, I was attending the Canadian Psychological
Association's annual convention, and stopping by the various sessions
put on by the Industrial/Organizational section. One of the themes at
this year's convention was "positive psychology", and in keeping with
that there were some nice papers on "psychological capital", loving
one's job, and harmonious vs obsessive passion regarding work.
It occurred to me that, in the world of staffing, we have these two
separate universes of what we call vocational guidance, and selection
and assessment. The former tries to identify what general kind of work
would make an individual happy and be aptly suited for them, but is not
specific to any particular position. The latter attempts to identify
who would be competent and qualified for a specific position, but makes
no attempt to determine if they would be happy in it, and love it.
So the challenge arises: how do we reshape assessment and selection
systems, procedures, and tools, such that the result is the placement of
people into jobs that not only deliver for the organization, but ALSO
deliver for the person in the job. How do we begin the re-engineering
of selection systems with the goal of allowing people to be happy and
fulfilled in their work?
Of course, part and parcel of this is figuring out how the heck we'd
tell someone "Look, you are VERY qualified for this work, in terms of
skills, but all indices point to you being unlikely to be happy in it,
over the long haul". I think some of that heavy lifting can certainly
be done by job ads and RJPs that let people know more about the job and
what a typical day/week/year would be like, so they can self-screen.
But you can't rely on that exclusively. Even very clever people can
still make bad judgment calls about what is really right for them;
particularly if distracted by the increment to income, or some aspect of
a job's status. Does it become the employer's perogative to make
assumptions about the candidate's future happiness, and turn them away
on the basis of signs and omens? Do we try, and then say "You pays your
money and you takes your chances" if they want to take the chance?
I'd like to think that selection is essentially match-making in its
purest form - a "shidduch" for those of you better-versed in the Yiddish
idiom - and that it is almost a basic human right to be happy in one's
work, and be directed to work that makes you happy. "Happy" doesn't
necessarily mean you stay in the job forever. You can think of some
jobs as "the soup" that precedes the main course; satisfying in its own
way, but merely a way-station, and presented as such. But soup doesn't
have to be something you bite your lip to get through. It CAN be
Do any of you already factor this in to how you conduct staffing, or
view assessment? In some respects, I suppose it IS factored in, when
people are selected for whether they will fit into a particular work
team. Although I imagine the emphasis there is not on the happiness of
the new team member, but the aggregate productivity of the team.
Am I dreaming in technicolor or is this a realistic objective?
Mark Hammer


This e-mail message is intended for the named recipient(s) and may
contain information that is privileged, confidential and/or exempt from
disclosure under applicable law. Unauthorized disclosure, copying or
re-transmission is prohibited. If you are not a named recipient or not
authorized by the named recipient(s), or if you have received this
e-mail in error, then please notify the sender immediately and delete
the message and any copies.
Ce courriel est destiné exclusivement au destinataire mentionné en titre
et peut contenir de l'information privilégiée, confidentielle ou
soustraite à la communication aux termes des lois applicables. Toute
divulgation non autorisée, toute reproduction ou réacheminement est
interdit. Si vous n'êtes pas le destinataire de ce courriel, ou n'êtes
pas autorisé par le destinataire visé, ou encore, si vous l'avez reçu
par erreur, veuillez le mentionner immédiatement à l'expéditeur et
supprimer le courriel et les copies.

More information about the IPAC-List mailing list