Challenge:

JvR Psychometrics was approached by a mine to validate a safety test battery used to assess supervisor performance. At the time of the research, the safety test battery was used to select supervisors. The task at hand was therefore to determine whether these tests distinguish between good and poor performance and to create an ideal profile for the future selection of supervisors.

Solution/ Study:

715 supervisory level employees were assessed using the Employee Safety Inventory (which measures safety attitudes and behaviours) and the Locus of Control Inventory (measuring Internal Locus of Control, External Locus of Control and Autonomy). In addition to the assessment information, data from a 360 degree evaluation (that rated each supervisor on communication skills, company values and connectivity) and a Safety Score (based on the number of safety incidents that miners under the supervisor’s supervision were involved in) were used. We then determined if there was a relationship between psychometric test scores and employee performance data, and whether any of the psychometric instrument scales could predict supervisor performance. Finally, supervisor profiles were recommended based on the relationships found between the test data and the employee data.

Results:

The results show that there were several relevant relationships between the individual personality scores and the scores from the 360 degree evaluations for the sample. The relationships between the psychometric instruments and the 360 evaluation data suggest that the tool did indeed measure elements of safety behaviour. Alternatively, the psychometric assessment scores predicted none of the Safety Data scores, which suggest that this specific safety score that the client provided was not meaningful. This is probably due to the fact that the safety score was not related to the direct behaviour of the supervisors, but rather to the behaviour of mining operators under their supervision. Many of the other safety-related outcomes were predicted by the psychometric assessments. Based on the relationships that were found between work outcomes and personality as well as locus of control, respectively, the following combination of criteria can be used to flag safety concerns in supervisors. This include individuals who:
  • typically do not see the self as accountable for upholding a work environment that is safe, or create safety awareness, or may blame external causes for mistakes or errors;
  • are more likely to be involved in risky behaviour than presenting good safety behaviour;
  • struggle to cope with stress or have difficulty managing stress;
  • find it difficult to accept that own achievements result from working hard and being dedicated, consider the assistance of other people as imperative for achieving personal goals, believe that a person does not always have to earn rewards for accomplishment, but rather has a fortuitous outlook dependent on fate;
  • believe the influences in life to be mostly coincidental and events are out of their control, are seen by others as being quite ‘fatalistic’, and often believe that negative past experiences unfavourably influenced existing achievements;
  • are not comfortable with rapid change, prefer to let others first take leadership in situations where it is required, favour teamwork above working alone, do not attempt to control their environment but favour structured work environments which mostly remains constant, and are comfortable with structure being provided to them by another.