About Me

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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!!!