We have all worked with people that seem to either bring an organization down from the inside with poor behavior, low work ethic, or a negative attitude. On the flip side, we have all worked with those who have the opposite qualities. People who seem to go above and beyond their job requirements to make the workplace better for everyone.
Definitions of OCBs and CWBs
Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) are defined as optional behaviors that are not included in an employee’s job requirements, but still add to the success and growth of the company. Counter productive workplace behaviors (CWBs) are actions by employees that go contrary to the goals and objectives of the organization.
One of my favorite examples of OCBs is the fictional character, Dwight, from the popular TV sitcom, The Office. In one episode, he leaves the organization, and after he is gone, people start to notice the little things he did that made their workplace much better, such as watering the plants or organizing his boss’ desk toys – this eventually leads to Dwight’s boss recruiting him to return. It is wonderful to work with individuals who go out of their way to make everyone’s lives better.
There are also many examples of CWBs on The Office – consider how much time and effort Jim spends on playing pranks on Dwight. It does not help either employee to be productive and he makes one employee feel embarrassed and harassed.
Is it possible for organizations to hire for these behaviors?
The answer is YES! Hiring for OCBs and CWBs should be a goal for all organizations. In many HR and business circles you will hear the terms contextual performance and task performance. Task performance has to do with the clear-cut work tasks and are often the measurement of employee success and failure. However, the contextual performance is also a critical element of overall job performance. The contextual performance is made up of non-task specific work such as CWBs and OCBs. Often in talent acquisition, these are all different criteria to gauge how well hiring assessments, interviews, and other screening tools can correlate or predict these measures of job performance.
One online assessment has done exactly that. That is, showed a relationship between scores on the assessment and CWBs. In an online manufacturing hiring tool developed by PSI, they have shown significant decrease in CWBs based on assessment scores.
Finding the right online assessment for the target job can help reduce CWBs and increase OCBs. Though it may take some time and effort to find out the right assessments depending on the job level, industry, stage in the hiring process, location, or volume of hires. Displaying these kinds of research results for an online assessment not only show that the test is valid, but it also protects against potential litigation.
Another way to decrease CWBs and increase OCBs in the hiring process is to seek out specific constructs that measure these behaviors. One construct that is often used in online assessments by PSI and many others is Integrity. Since it can be difficult to measure integrity without being too obvious about the right answer, PSI has created situational judgement items that require applicants to choose the best, worst, and in between on a scale of reaction in unique scenarios. Sometimes the answer is not always so obvious. This helps create variance in the scores and allows organizations to screen out those candidates who are less likely to exhibit OCBs and also screen out individuals more likely to exhibit CWBs.
Regardless of the selection tool an organization uses in the hiring process, there should be data gathered to measure how well these tools are predicting OCBs and CWBs. These measures of contextual performance will continue to play a critical role in the success and failure of so many organizations.