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

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Tue Jun 7 10:21:40 EDT 2011

Well, let me rephrase my initial pitch, then, because I think Lance and
Jeff have raised some cogent points (as have several others, off-line).

The objective is not to treat happiness in one's job as *separate* from
everything else, or make selection decisions based on projected
happiness. Rather, the objective is to treat happiness in one's job as
a higher-order objective - a horizon target - to be aimed for, or
harness one's practices to, whenever possible.

The question to ask oneself is "When all the things I've done -
recruitment ads, RJPs, job analysis, tools, on-boarding strategies,
ongoing communication and employee development, etc. - are all put
together, is the person not only going to be good enough to get this job
done, but be happy too?". And if the answer is "I can't tell" or "It's
a crap shoot", then maybe that calls out for a rethink of those various
elements of recruitment, assessment, selection, and career development,
such that the odds can be increased a little more. I just don't want to
see HR forgetting about it, completely.

Call me crazy, but I still think we owe people joy in their work, given
how much of their limited time on earth they're going to give us as


P.S.: Take a gander at Mitchell and Lee's stuff on "embeddedness",
Lance. One of the very impressive points Tom Lee made at a SIOP session
I attended years ago was that a lot of people leave jobs they love, and
stay in jobs they hate. The reasons for retention and turnover may
often be quite different from what we assume.

>>> Lance Seberhagen <sebe at erols.com> 2011/06/07 10:03 AM >>>

According to the employee manual in Dilbert, "Job satisfaction is the
same as stealing from the company." Another time, a Dilbert character
said, "Having a personal life would be like stealing from the company."

Aside from Dilbert, we know that turnover is significantly reduced when
employers use good selection procedures (i.e., job analysis, RJP, valid
tests that measure all important and critical KSAs), followed by a good
"on-boarding" program to bring new hires into the organization. If
employees have long tenure, we can assume that they are happy. But I
also agree with the point that "job fit" can go too far if the employer
makes discriminatory assumptions about who would be "happy" working in a
given job or organization..


Lance Seberhagen, Ph.D.
Seberhagen & Associates
9021 Trailridge Ct
Vienna, VA 22182
Tel 703-790-0796

On 6/7/2011 9:22 AM, Jeff Feuquay wrote:

Makes me crazy when a sentence or a thought sticks with me, but the
escapes recollection. Seems to me, though, that it was Bob Hogan at
combined IPMA-HR/IPAC conference who said, "If you put someone in a
that's not right for them, you're stealing their life." The context, as
recall, was very much what Mark alludes to.

Methinks, "enjoys the job and doesn't constantly whine about it,
being a boon rather than an irritant to all around" is a reasonable

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 Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 6:09 AM, Pritchard, Ken <Ken.Pritchard at mwaa.com>
( mailto:Ken.Pritchard at mwaa.com )wrote:

1. There is a danger here due to Title VII and other employment laws,
the danger may trump everything else. What employer wants to determine
someone is well-qualified for a job, but not well-suited by his/her
needs, and thereby "help" the candidate "decline" the job only to get
(and lose) later on by the candidate?
2. There are systems that assess job content and what an individual's
"preferences" are USING THE SAME (behavioral) CRITERIA so that one can
determine the degree of match as well as gaps. I think the best use of
systems with the least danger to the employer are in the domains of
and organization development (including leadership development), job
talent "redeployment" for any number of reasons (including RIF) and
such FOR
current employees (not candidates for a vacancy and surely not for
candidates for a vacancy).

- Ken Pritchard

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org
[mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org]
On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2011 2:33 PM
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.orgSubject: [IPAC-List] Getting people into jobs
they're gonna love

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
would make an individual happy and be aptly suited for them, but is
specific to any particular position. The latter attempts to identify
who would be competent and qualified for a specific position, but
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
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
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
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
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
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
way, but merely a way-station, and presented as such. But soup
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
the new team member, but the aggregate productivity of the team.
Am I dreaming in technicolor or is this a realistic objective?
Mark Hammer


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