Alan Colquitt on Talent

Does performance management work? Should we spend more on high-potentials? Are we ever going to get better at predicting job performance? Listen to Alan Colquitt patiently explain why I am wrong about nearly everything related to performance management, job selection, and talent development. It was a blast!

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  1. I propose that we, as IO’s, have much to contribute regarding the “84%” that we supposedly can’t account for in human behavior. I have proposed a performance diagnostic “model” called ALAMO where Performance = ALignment x (Ability x Motivation x Opportunity) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8h7RDAvC8o) that requires we consider more than just Ability (which is where the 16% usually comes from).

  2. Let me add that the physical scientists that Alan refers to have measurements that are almost 100% reliable. In psychology, we have none that come close to 100%, and that lack of reliability is just the first of many factors that put ceilings on the magnitude of variance we can account for. In our world, we can never calculate xy=z because all three variables are usually imperfectly measured, and never will be.

  3. Continuing the conversation with myself, why should we be disappointed with a validity of .16 when we are willing to accept reliability of .70 for each variable.

  4. Ben Butina, Ph.D.

    Thanks for the comments, Dave! Of course we’ll keep working to improve the validity and reliability of our measures and predictions, but I think it’s good to acknowledge that (a) there is a ceiling and (b) that ceiling will fall well below what “hard science” expects. Ultimately, it boils down to the nature of what we’re studying. When you’re dealing with something as complex and volatile as a human being, you’re never going to get the kind of precision that you’d get if you’re studying cells or rocks.

  5. Dave I think we have much to contribute to the 84% too, not just trying to make the 16% bigger. And I’m probably making the case that even with better measures, we won’t increase the 16% by much. It’s also possible that our measures can’t be much more reliable since people simply aren’t that reliable a measuring instrument and aren’t knowledgable enough about even themselves. But I don’t think we can get people to think about the 84% this without provoking them. What if performance is mostly luck and opportunity? How can we improve our return on luck and maximize opportunity? I don’t think certain kinds of solutions are readily available or come into view until we provoke people. I think the gun control debate suffers from this a bit. What if you can’t predict who will commit mass killings, despite your best efforts, and what if we find you mostly can’t prevent them? What would you do? We focus all our efforts toward prediction (look at mental health, etc.) and prevention (protect and arm everyone).

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