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 Vernon Roche Hodgson - Publications

Jonathan E. Dehlinger, Ph.D - President Vernon Roche HodgsonNewsline - Vernon Roche Hodgson Newsletter

Fall 1998


A Message From President Jonathan E. Dehlinger, Ph.D.

There are many ethical issues with which people in our profession wrestle. One is, who owns the data generated by a psychological assessment, the organization or the candidate? Who has a right to see it? While the answers are not often clear cut, here is our position:

Assessment data should be extremely confidential. It should be filed in separate "Management Confidential" files and have limited access, on a need-to-know basis. You should have access to this data only if you are involved in some decision-making process that involves the hiring, placement, development or coaching of this person.

Every year, clients should cull those files and destroy assessment reports that are seven years old or older. In addition, if you’re making significant decisions such as a reorganization or a placement, and your most recent assessment data for an individual is four or five years old, you should consider updating the information with a new assessment.

Why? Most of the cognitive measures of problem-solving or "intelligence" will not vary over time. However, if we look at what motivates us, how we respond to different situations and our personality makeup, these things will change over time.

At VRH we cull our own files annually and destroy anything over seven years old. This protects both the organization and the individual.

Another ethical practice we maintain to protect the individual - or at least make the assessment a beneficial experience, no matter what happens with the particular job at hand - is to give the individual feedback on his or her results at the end of the interview process.

Unlike some assessment firms, we’ll say to an individual, "Here are some things we’ve learned in this process that would be helpful for you to understand. This data should help you make some development plans." The individual then has a sense of gaining some insights from the experience, rather than feeling exposed and wondering, "What is my potential employer going to hear about me that I don’t know?" We feel ethically obliged to provide a mutual benefit to the individual, even though in a technical sense he or she is not the paying client.

Executive Coaching Can Save Your Game

A stressed-out lab supervisor has trouble interfacing with a demanding customer. A salesperson recently promoted to sales manager feels overwhelmed by her managerial duties. A newly hired vice president of production can’t persuade his plant managers to buy into his production plan.

What do these three people have in common? They all would benefit from executive coaching.

"With executive coaching and development, we look at an individual’s strengths and areas that need development, and work with him or her to develop a plan to acquire skills they don’t have or change behaviors that are detrimental," says VRH Business Psychologist Lynda M. Dahlke, Ph.D. Coaching can lead to a dramatic increase in leadership effectiveness.

Coaching usually involves pencil and paper work as well as interviews. The process generally takes two to eight sessions, depending on the client’s needs.

"One tool we use in the process is 360-degree feedback, where we get information from the manager’s peers, boss and direct reports regarding his or her strengths and developmental areas," Lynda says. Human resource experts generally regard 360-degree feedback as the most comprehensive, accurate and engaging assessment of performance. It is considered a superior means for providing feedback to individuals for development.

Who’s a good candidate for coaching? "It’s often first-time managers," says Lynda, "but it can be almost any position. I’ve worked with everyone from CEO’s and vice presidents to customer service people, shipping dock supervisors and police detectives."

"Much of what I do is help individuals understand the work style of others who are not like them, and how they can work effectively with somebody who doesn’t see the world the same way they do," Lynda says. This leads into development of communication skills, one of Lynda’s areas of expertise.

"Because of my varied background, with many different kinds of organizations and businesses, I can ferret out strengths and developmental areas," Lynda says. "I think I have a good sense for people and I try to be a very good listener. I help people put into perspective the needs of the organization as well as the individual."

Lynda feels that "the individual is my client as well as the organization. Along with productivity and performance, I emphasize collaboration, teamwork, the work style of the individual and how that fits in the culture of the organization."

The organization benefits when coaching enables it to:

  • Improve an employee’s skills (un-addressed performance problems are costly)

  • Retain an employee and avoid the time, energy, expense, uncertainty and morale-sinking process of replacing him or her; and

  • Promote from within a known quantity who understands the company’s processes and procedures.

In addition, coaching benefits individuals because it enhances their career growth and development and expands their repertoire of skills.

VRH Presents Listening Awareness Program at Conference

Have you ever attended a meeting or seminar where, after a few hours, the facts and figures became a blur? The Salvation Army recently asked VRH to help prevent that from happening at a three-day conference. In June, VRH conducted a listening awareness program on nonverbal communication and attentive listening for the organization’s planned giving staff.

"This was an opportunity for the staff to get some people skills training in a fun, participative way," says David Himes, Planned Giving Consultant for The Salvation Army’s Midwestern Region. "It gave the meeting the right balance between technical, marketing and people skills."

"We talked about what constitutes nonverbal communication, what sorts of listening skills individuals possess, and how to interpret these," says VRH Management Consultant Rena D. Matusiak, M.A., who presented the program. "We conducted an experiential listening activity where the planned giving staff could role play using nonverbal communication cues together with various listener preference types."

"We wanted to enhance their understanding of nonverbal communication so that they can be more effective at understanding the needs of the people they’re talking to," says VRH Business Psychologist Lynda M. Dahlke, Ph.D., who made the presentation with Rena.

"The Salvation Army doesn’t want to just take money from people," Lynda says. "They want to collaborate with their donors and match their needs with the needs of the individual. ItŐs a win-win approach. To be effective, members of the planned giving staff need to be sensitive listeners and good communicators."

"The VRH staff made the presentation in a delightful way," says David Himes. "They injected humor into it and got our people to participate in role-playing. We received lots of favorable comments. It was a highlight of the meeting."

VRH and Executive Coaching
Professional coaching is an area of expertise for VRH for many reasons:

  • We have primarily long-term clients, and we understand their businesses, cultures and expectations very well.

  • Unlike other consulting firms, VRH is made up of business psychologists who are trained to help 
    individuals better manage their businesses and careers.

  • VRH’s battery of tests is particularly good at providing useful data to help focus on individual 
    development needs. 

  • VRH uses the most current psychological research and management practices in all of its work.

VRH Assesses Itself! MP/SP+ Scores High for Predicting Sales Success
VRH recently had the opportunity to research how well MP/SP+, our computerized assessment tool, predicts success in sales positions. Last spring we conducted research that focused upon a study group of 89 individuals tested by VRH in early 1996 for Snap-on Incorporated in Kenosha, Wis., a worldwide supplier of precision automotive tools and diagnostic equipment.

The study focused upon identifying differentiating characteristics between top and bottom performing franchise dealers. It also looked at how well MP/SP+ predicted success for dealer positions.

The study reestablished that MP/SP+ is very effective in identifying individuals who do not have those qualities that make an effective salesperson and, to a slightly lesser extent, it is effective in predicting those who are good potential salespeople. It reaffirms that the sales aptitude score MP/SP+ generates can indeed be a good predictor of overall sales success or lack of success.

MP/SP+ measures a person’s assertiveness, temperament, self-sufficiency, sales personality and management personality. It is a convenient, cost-effective method of sorting through a large candidate pool, getting a quick look at someone in a different geographic location, or screening for lower level positions.

VRH-Sponsored Art Exhibit "Made Marks" in Milwaukee
Last summer VRH co-sponsored a major exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum, "Making Marks: Drawing in the 20th Century From Picasso to Kiefer."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said, "Never before have so many seldom-seen prizes from so many carefully sequestered private residences been brought out in one place, at one time, for the enjoyment of the public."

We hope you were among the thousands of museum visitors who enjoyed this special exhibit.

Looking for Better Hires? Consider Validating Your Selection System
The process of selecting a potential employee for your organization is an important one and usually involves the interview, job application, checking references, etc. However, these steps alone may not be sufficient to identify whether the individual will most likely be a productive employee and have the basic skills to perform the job.

VRH can add to your selection process by developing a test that can be used in combination with other selection methods (such as the interview, application, reference, etc.) to provide an objective basis for making your decision.

When screening people for craft, clerical, entry-level and other jobs, you want to be sure that the selection program does at least two things. First, it should help you identify the people who have the basic skills, abilities and aptitudes to do the job. Second, it should be legally defensible. If you are currently using a selection test in your screening process and are not sure that these two points are being met, you might want to consider contracting a VRH consultant.

One VRH client, Phoenix Products Co., Inc., a Milwaukee-based manufacturer of industrial lighting fixtures, wanted to waive the GED requirement for an assembler job, so they needed a basic skills assessment to make sure that applicants had the necessary skills to perform the job.

"We have found that just because a person has their GED, it doesn’t always mean they can read well or do the math that the job requires," says Lori Neils, Phoenix Products Human Resources Manager. "We hope to hire better skilled, better qualified people."

Tests are one of the most effective ways to measure the skills and abilities that are important to the success of a job. If a candidate scores higher than other applicants on the test, we assume that he or she is more likely to be a more productive employee.

In order to select appropriate tests, we conduct a validation study. A validation study is a rational and empirical process that involves gathering information that shows the logical relationship between behaviors or duties on the job and a selection procedure that’s chosen or developed to give a representative sample of the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform those duties or behaviors.

A validation study requires a time commitment, but the process doesn’t have to be painful. "The people at VRH were knowledgeable, easy to work with, and very helpful walking us through the process," says Lori Neils. "It was time consuming but it needed to be done. We’re looking at doing it again for another position."


Dr. Russ Day to Discuss Leadership at Conference
"Developing Leadership Competency to Enhance Organization Performance" is the topic that VRH Vice President and Business Psychologist Russell R. Day, Ph.D., and two Amoco Corporation colleagues will address at a business conference this fall.

The two-day conference for human resource executives, "Linking Competencies With Business Strategies: How to Create a High Performance Workplace," will be held October 5-7 at the Midland Hotel in Chicago.

"To effect changes in leadership behavior, executives need feedback and specific recommendations on how to close gaps," Russ says. "At Amoco we designed a multi-level, multi-method intervention to leverage key strengths and address development needs to enhance organizational influence and performance results management."

The Amoco/VRH presentation will look at Amoco’s Executive Leadership Competency Model and will focus on: 

  • Defining competencies that lead to successful performance; 

  • Using 360-degree feedback to assess individuals against a competency profile;

  •  Aggregating individual competency profile assessments to identify key organizational strengths and development needs; 

  • Integrating individual competency profiles into organizational career development initiatives; and 

  • Using multi-level, multi-method interventions to address key development needs

AMA Reports Increased Use of Psychological Measurement in Workplace

The American Management Association (AMA) recently conducted a Survey on Workplace Testing that reported an increase in psychological measurement in 1998 compared with 1997.

According to a June 1998 AMA newsletter on "Job Skill Testing and Psychological Measurement, the increase marks a definite upward movement, especially in personality measurements (28% this year compared with 19% in 1997). Recruiting is ever more expensive in the current tight labor market, with a concomitant increase in the cost of a wrong choice when hiring an applicant or promoting an employee."

The newsletter added, "Larger organizations are more likely to engage in psychological measurements than smaller ones-psychological measurements are performed by 39% of firms grossing less than $10 million annually, compared with 54% of billion-dollar companies."

No matter what the size of your organization, or your field, VRH can help you make optimal use of your resources. Please call us for more information.


How can you learn more about a job candidate during an interview? Try "reading" his or her body language. Look for:

Eye Contact 
Anxiety or confusion decreases frequency (note: it may be affected by the candidate’s culture).

Furrowed Brow
May indicate worry or misunderstanding.

Lips Tightening/Loosening 
Reflects comfort level of information discussed.

May demonstrate emotional reaction. 

Body Posture
Crossed arms and legs may signal discomfort with disclosure.

Vocal Expression
Changes in quality give clues about the individual’s emotional investment in a topic.

Inappropriate Smiling 
May indicate anger, deception or anxiety.

These seemingly small physical changes are important clues to what an individual is experiencing. Noticing these cues takes practice. You may want to focus on one or two aspects and study them for a few days in your regular interactions, and then move on to others as part of an effort to heighten your powers of observation.

Reading body language and increasing your awareness of non-verbal communication are important skills of effective listening, and can help make interviews more informative.  By Lynda M. Dahlke, Ph.D.

VRH Business Psychologist
Drs. Dehlinger and Day Will Speak at Conference

Two VRH Business Psychologists, Jonathan E. Dehlinger, Ph.D., and Russell R. Day, Ph. D., will speak at a two-day conference this fall, "Transforming the Recruiting and Staffing Function Into a Value-Added Business Partner." The conference will be held November 16-18 at the Holiday Inn O’Hare International in Chicago. 

Jon and Russ will present a workshop on "Staffing the New Workforce: Maximizing Fit and ROI." For more information, please call us at either office.

How to Keep Up Your Meeting’s Momentum:
Call VRH 

Are you looking for an interesting, informative session for your organization’s meeting or seminar? VRH can provide training and development services in a variety of areas, customized to fit your specific business and meeting needs. Below are just a few of our training and coaching specialties:

Effective Presentation Skills

  • Developing Leadership Skills

  • Team Building

  • Effective Communication

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Effective Listening

"Recently VRH has worked as a subcontractor for our consulting firm, serving as a technical advisor, doing validation research, and building effective and legally defensible selection processes for three different companies."

"We have been very happy with the technical expertise VRH has brought to these projects. Several of our clients needed help within a short time frame due to market pressures. VRH responded quickly with solutions that were both effective and innovative. In addition, they have brought some unique, value-added services to these projects."

"Mercer is one of the nation’s largest human resources consulting firms and we trust the quality of service that VRH will provide us and our clients."  By Dave Knapp, William M. Mercer, Incorporated, Chicago

"We’ve made the mistake in the past of hiring people based only on an interview and checking references. That trial-and-error approach sometimes resulted in hires that were less than satisfactory."

"The psychological assessments VRH conducted for us were borne out as we saw the people we hired go through their first year or two with us. The individuals’ management styles and characters paralleled the assessments. We were pleased with the high correlation between the assessments and the new hires’ work."
By Ronald G. Statz, Vice President, Human Resources, Western Industries, Inc., Milwaukee.


Spring 2002
Fall 2001

Spring 2001

Winter 2000

Fall 1999 
Spring 1999 
Fall 1998 

VRH Insights 
(VRH's short topic pieces that relate to organizational performance.)
Commemorating 20 Years of Service 
"Sorry, wrong executive." 
"Leaders aren't born" 
"Fit is It" 


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