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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Does an unbiased interview exist? YES!

While most of my blogs are about academic articles and their application to Human Resources, this was a topic that I had to write about. In a conversation with some friends, some great points came up and I thought,"This would be a perfect topic for my blog!" I hope you enjoy.

On August 19th, 2014, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released an amendment to Executive Order 11246. This amendment extends protection of discrimination based on sex to include gender identity and those who identify as transgender. While it only applies to Federal contractors, this is a huge accomplishment for those individuals who identify as transgender because it means they have the ability to live their lives as they see fit. I imagine its only a matter of time until this protection extends to all employers in the United States. 

When I was discussing this with some friends, we spoke about how some people are unable to look past their personal bias when it comes to physical image. In reality, one's personal looks shouldn't matter as long as they perform the job effectively (with the exception of personal hygiene). However, can you truly enforce interviewers to objectively evaluate interviews? In an ideal world, I would say yes but some people are unable to look past their biases. Some ways to overcome these subjective opinions are by using the following methods:
  • Structured interviews
  • Interview questions based on job requirements
  • Score based interviews
  • Behavioral anchors
  • Multiple interviewers
  • Training for managers on effective interviews and the expectations of an interview.
These common practices can be effective in reducing the likelihood of adverse impact. However, it is not fool-proof. Want a fool proof interview practice? Well, your answer lies in the classical music industry.

Allison Gessner, Oboist
My good friend, Allison Gessner, is an amazing oboist. She tells me all about her auditions and what they entail. Whenever she goes to an audition, she has no face-to-face contact with the evaluators. Instead, she is placed behind a curtain so they focus on her musical skills (which are amazing, I might add). 

When my friends and I were talking about objective interviews, I thought of Alli's audition stories. Why aren't companies using this when interviewing candidates? If we interview without seeing them, can we avoid any personal bias (which would be especially helpful when trying to accommodate gender identity)? We achieve this partially by conducting phone interviews, but do we lose that objectivity when people are brought on site for a face-to-face interview?

We often state that face-to-face interviews are crucial for determining if someone fits an organization's culture. However, does blind interviews inhibit determining organizational fit? I don't have the answer but its something to consider. 

I realize that this article could be controversial but my objective is raise some questions to ensure that employers avoid adverse impact during an interview. All I can say is that I am a huge supporter of organizational diversity and I am excited to see this protection added for gender identity.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Print Still Matters in an e-Learning World...


With the introduction of online learning, the training & development world has seen drastic changes in the delivery of their services. As training professionals, we can worry less about tracking/storing paper training records, as it can all be stored within a learning management system (i.e. Moodle, Cornerstone, Peoplesoft, etc.). In addition, the need for printed materials has reduced thanks to the utilization of custom online courses and webinars. However, I feel paper is still a necessary tool in training, not just for instructor-led training, but also job aids and on-the-job training. Today's article will discuss if e-Learning vendors are still properly prepared to provide paper-based training tools.

Gretchen L. Kriesen (2008) suggests that all organizations should commit to the evaluation and improvement of their operations. One way to do so is  using a Behavior Systems Analysis (BSA), which evaluates three levels of a organization's systems & processes:

  1. Organizational Level - Is change necessary? If so, what are we aiming to change?
  2. Process Level - What needs to change in how we do things today?
  3. Performer Level - Do our people have all the resources they need to meet requirements?
Kriesen uses this approach to evaluate a small private company (less than 30 employees) who provide training services to Fortune 500 companies with majority of their services focusing on e-Learning (22% involved paper). She works with 13 of the company's employees as well as 13 print vendors used by this company. Kriesen uses surveys and interviews to evaluate the company's approach to print materials.

The study showed that while e-Learning was still the primary source of business, many clients were requesting the integration of paper products to accompany their courses. Let's look at the findings using the BSA approach:

1. Organizational Level - The company only had one expert on paper materials, resulting in a lack of knowledge across the organization. To accommodate this, the company created a paper based project plan and and updated their process flows. 

2. Process Level - Since there was only one paper expert, he/she was not able to attend all client meetings. Therefore, understanding and meeting a customer's requirements was starting to be a challenge. In addition, the company had no project plan template that included print elements. This caused confusion for customers on the company's offers and confusion by the printers as to what the consulting company wanted printed. To meet this need, the company updated their project plan templates to accommodate employees who were not experts in print solutions, printers, and sales consultants. 

3. Performer Level - When a print expert was not available, employees were asked to meet these needs even when this was not their area of expertise. The company decide to create several tools to assist these individuals, A detailed document was created to provide these individuals with the knowledge required, including the organization's process for print materials. In addition, a job aid was designed to help the employees ask the correct questions when designing solutions for customers. Finally, a process map was created to ensure experts were included in the process at the appropriate times. 

All of these tools helped the organization, its customers, and its printer meet their expectations and needs. However, this study cannot be applied to all organizations. First off, it does not include a sample that represents the population and it only looked at one customer. Second, the title doesn't accurately reflect the article. It nowhere evaluates how and why print still matters in e-learning.


What does this article tell us? First and foremost, it emphasizes the need for detailed project management. One of my former employers was an expert at this. Whenever we started a new project, we defined our scope using a structured form. This form ensured that we understood the clients needs and helped us to identify the resources necessary for the project. Once we had all of the information completed on our scoping form, we would develop a timeline and evaluate where we needed help from outside experts and how it could impact the project. It makes me wonder how the company did their scoping.

The article continues to emphasize the need to cross-train all of your employees. As my boss regularly says to me,"the last thing we want is single-point failures." If you rely on one or two people to be an expert, you will be in a bad place if those employees leave your company or are occupied with other responsibilities. Cross-training your employees can help you to avoid these situations. Unfortunately, this company decided to cross-train their employees after-the-fact, which had negative results on their business.  Cross-training is especially important in learning and development because it is an ever-evolving industry, especially with technology. When an employees learns something new, have them train the rest of your team to ensure that helpful data is shared with everyone.

There is always areas for improvement in both of these areas. I, myself, am guilty of skipping these steps. For example, my internal customers have no interest in scoping and find it a waste of time. Eventually, I just gave up on doing, but after reading this article, I may push back and make it a requirement. Sometimes we look to do things quickly, which can result in a negative effect.

SOURCEKriesen, Gretchen L. "Print Still Matters in an E-Learning World, and Training Companies Need to Properly Manage It." Journal of Organizational Behavior Management 31.3 (2011): 179-95. Web.

Guess who's making his return?

I know you have all long awaited my return. There are still so many questions to ask. Therefore, please know that I am working on releasing my new articles, but there will be a few changes:

  1. The amount of postings per month may decrease due to the demands of my current job.
  2. While I believe quality is important, I am going to focus on the content of my articles rather than proofing them for typos & errors. Please understand that this should have no impact on the quality of author.
  3.  I want your feedback! Please leave comments and let me know if you have any topics of interest. 
Happy reading!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A sabbatical from blogging

As many of you may have already noticed, I have not posted a new entry in some time. I have started a new position and have been focusing all of my efforts on my projects. Therefore, I am taking a temporary break from my blog to focus on my current position. I plan to return in the near future. Thank you for all of your support.

Friday, April 13, 2012

By Karin Soweid, SIOP Blogger

Recently, on a flight to Boston, I found myself immersed in thought about the psychological preferences that are categorized and defined by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. I suppose this is what one does with their ‘off time’ when they are immersed in a doctoral program in industrial-organizational psychology. In parallel with the hum of the engines, I quietly reflected, acknowledging how many times I have taken this assessment tool over the past eight years and my subsequently varying four-letter outcomes during vastly different life experiences in that timeframe. I couldn’t help but remark and marvel at how these considerable transitions in preference underscore a woman in her doctoral journey.

via siopexchange.typepad.com

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Comparison of Face-to-Face and Distance Coaching Practices: Coaches’ Perceptions of the Role of the Working Alliance in Problem Resolution

By Ian Mondrow, PHR

In psychoanalytical psychology, the term working alliance discusses the relationship that buds between a patient and a therapist but there are many professionals who claim that the working alliance is also prevalent in the relationship with a leadership coach and their client. A working alliance is defined by the commitment between a client and a therapist to agree on the planned therapy outcomes, the process to achieve the outcome, and the bond created between the two that a established a relationship with a capacity for warmth. Much of these factors are also crucial to the success of coaching within the corporate realm. In any coaching scenario, this relationship is essential for success.

However, technology has introduced some modifications to the therapeutic process. A coach now have the option to use telephone, web-conferencing, or e-mail to provide services; with telephone being the most prominent means. Within psychotherapy, the practice of using these technologies has been found to be equally effective to face-to-face sessions when achieving the end result. This study intends to examine the impact of distance relationships on business/leadership coaching.

All data for this study was collected exclusively from professional coaches using the internet as a primary recruitment method. 51 coaches provided all of the needed information. 20 coaches only provided details on a face-to-face client while 26 coached completed the details only about a distance client. Only 51 responses were utilized as these coaches utilized both methods.

 Participants completed a survey online that included a form to collect data on their demographics and coaching experiences/practices. The coaches were asked to identify one coaching client who primarily receives face-face coaching within the past year and are still seeing.  They were also asked to identify an individual who they have and continued to coach over the past year on a distance format.  Participants were asked to complete the Working Alliance Inventory-Short Form, which demonstrates a strong working alliance with higher scores and the Target Complains Scale that lists one to three conditions and the level of severity for which treatment was sought. Additionally, the researchers developed a short survey to understand the coaches’ background.

When examining the results, it was found the clients working with their coach face-to-face or  at a distance had similar levels of problem severity, t = -.37,  p > .05. A repeated-measures MANOVA was conducted to determine the difference between working alliance and the method used by the coach (face-to-face vs. distance). No significance was found and no follow-up analyses were completed. When examining the severity of a client’s condition and the working alliance, a regression showed that the face-to-face condition did not have an impact. However, when working in the distance condition, results were significant between working alliance and client severity, R2 =.11, F = 9.65,  p < .01. A MANOVA was conducted to determine if the coaches’ experiencse differed whether they provided services via distance or face-to-face, but no significance was found.

Overall, the study demonstrates that face-to-face and distance coaching are similar in regards to effectiveness. Specifically, working relationships between a client and a coach are not impacted by the distance. However, the change in severity was higher in the distance relationship, which may be a result of a stronger working alliance.
While the study produces some interesting findings, there are some important limitations to consider. One big constraint is the fact that there was a low ceiling in scores in the working alliance and problem resolution measurement, making data difficult to analyze. Furthermore, since the study used a convenience sample, there was an overall low response rate. It is also suggested that recruiting participants online may have been a factor because these participants may have already been technologically savvy.

Although the limitations of the study demonstrate that further investigation is needed, the findings reveal revelations that could be utilized by learning and development professionals. Primarily, future organizational leaders do not have to be limited by locations. Organizations that don’t have mentors available on-site for these employees can utilize mentors at other site to provide distance coaching. The findings show that the coaching relationship continues to impact others even if done through the telephone or internet.

If an organization decides to implement this approach, the structure of a program is the key to success. Organizations should not rely on mentors alone to create the coaching program for growing talent. Instead, human resources can create a structure developmental program by using scheduled telephone calls with the coach, weekly online journaling (to be reviewed by coach), and online group discussions for all employees. Effectiveness of a leadership program relies on providing individuals with a well-rounded a background and therefore introducing a variety of events can enhance the learning experience, whether it be local of through technology.

This also introduces cost-saving methods for organizations. Many smaller organizations have not been  able to afford executive coaches due to the costs of travel expenses. However, today’s technology offers organizations the same coaching quality through a long-distance relationship. Human resources departments can rest assured that there will be resources available to them even if they are not located in a primary city without the need to pay for the travel of the cost.

Much like many other aspects of human resources, technology introduces cost saving methods to assist the organization with its continuous growth. Thanks to technology, affordable and competitive programs can be implemented by organizations without fear of going bankrupt.   

Source: Berry, R.M., Ashby, J.S., Gnilka, P.B., Matheny, K.B. (2011). A comparison of face-to-face and distance coaching practices: coaches' perceptions of the role of working alliance in problem resolution.. Consulting Psychcology Journal: Practice and Research, 63 (4), 243-253.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Trainee reactions to learner control: an important link in the e-learning equation

Summary by Ian B. Mondrow, PHR

The evolution of e-learning technology has revolutionized employee development for corporations due to its convenience, electronic record keeping and learning management. The benefits to e-learning include reduced delivery cycle time, more convenience for learners and consistency within training among locations. E-learning also opens the opportunity for learner control, or the degree to which a learner is given control over the course features including pace, content and structure of courses. This allows the learner to modify the learning experience to their liking.  It may also assist in comprehension of learning content because a learner is able to review unclear information or provide additional details on areas of interest.

In this quasi-experimental study, 237 undergraduate students at a large public university in the Eastern United States were recruited as participants. Participants were put into one of two groups: training with interactive features (no learner control) or training with or without interactive offered at the learner’s choice (learner control). Participants in the group with learner control were asked if they would like to complete the course with interactive controls. 8 individuals in the learner control group opted out of using learner controls and therefore were not included in analysis. In the sample offered learner control, users could chose the number and order of videos to view, utilization of a video progress bar, interactive transcripts, access to an interactive outline and pop-up windows to highlight key learning points.

Reactions to control-based features offered were evaluated using 10 items developed by the researchers to measure affective-based reactions and utility-based reactions on a 5-point scale. Affective-based reactions were used to measure the emotional responses from participants (i.e. if they liked it, annoyed by it, etc.) while utility-based actions are based on their perceived ease of use (i.e. difficult, easy, etc.). In addition, four items were used to measure learner satisfaction on a five-point scale.  Finally, learning was measured using a multiple choice knowledge assessment with 12 questions.

Participants completed the study during a regular class period of their management class and completed the course with 20-35 people in the room at the same time.  Results showed that were was no correlation between control condition and satisfaction as the statistical analysis was not significant. However, a statistically significant correlation was found between learner control and trainee reactions (r = .13, p < .05), suggesting that learner controls created an experience that had more positive reactions. An independent samples t-test confirmed the difference between the two learning conditions, t (225) = -2.00, p <.05), with the no control condition (m = 3.58) and control condition (m = 3.74).  It was also found learner satisfaction was positively related to course reactions (r = .42, p < .01). Training satisfaction was then examined to determine if it positively affected learning satisfaction. Findings were significant using a hierarchical regression on training program satisfaction and learner GPA (β = .14, ΔR2=.02, p <.05).

The study introduces a variety of findings. First off, it shows that overall satisfaction is not enhanced by control but participants are more likely to prefer an e-learning program with learner control, even if makes the training more complex. As a result of the findings, learners are likely to be more satisfied with a learning course that provides control, thus increasing the overall perception of learning.  However, several limitations are present in this study. First off, the sample used is composed of college students, who are generally accustom to web-based technology. In addition, they are not working professionals so their preferences for learning may be different. Furthermore, the study only included students from one university, and therefore cannot be applied to the population.

The study introduces some fascinating findings that are applicable to both training and instructional design professionals. It shows that learners like to feel as though they are control of the online training. To increase the overall reactions, it is suggested to provide learners with a variety of options within e-learning modules. This can include the option to obtain additional information, controlling the speed of the presentation, and providing different learning options (i.e. audio transcripts, outlines, etc.), and the order of information.

These findings show how important it is for organizations to utilize instructional designers. Instead of just creating a basic slideshow, instructional designers can create innovative online courses that grant learners more control of the content. Instructional designers are knowledgeable about the tools offered in software, such as Adobe Captivate or Articulate, and can design intricate learning.

One easy way to achieve learner control is develop e-learning that is not sequential. Therefore, learners can cover different sections of the training as long as they complete it all. This allows learners to first learn about the content that appeals to them most. Online training should not feel like participants are watching a slideshow that only allows them to move forward. Give learners the option to replay, review and pause. This can be easily achieved by providing a table of contents on the side of the training. This allows for easier navigation for the learner.

If learners are offered online courses that provide them more control, it may be suggested that learners feel more empowered in their learning; thus, resulting in more positive reactions towards training offered and increasing their satisfaction of the overall learning experience. This is crucial for learning organizations that emphasize employee development and want their employees to continue to utilize learning resources.

Source: Fisher, S.L., Wasserman, M.E., Orvis K.A. (2010). Trainee reactions to learner control: an important link in the e-learning equation. International Journal of Training and Development, 14 (3), 198-208.