A taxonomy of work performance?

2.8.2 A taxonomy of work performance?

Viswesvaren and Ones (2000) suggest that performance at work may be subject to a similar ‘g’ or ‘general’ factor (Spearman, 1937b) as cognitive abilities because different dimensions of work performance are positively correlated (approximately 50% of the variance in performance ratings is common and not accounted for by simple ‘halo’ effects). There continue to exist, however, issues with exactly how to measure/assess this ‘g’ factor of performance and until this is resolved, it will difficult to find support for researchers such as Hunter, Schmidt, Rauchenberger and Jayne (2000) who believe that this ‘g’ factor is determined by both general mental ability and conscientiousness. In order to arrive at the notion of the ‘g’ factor, Viswesvaren and Ones (2000) reviewed current models of work performance.

By way of an attempt to make research into the prediction of performance more precise, various authors have suggested adopting a taxonomy or categorisation of different aspects of individual performance at work. This is similar to the personality domain where an agreed-upon taxonomy of traits has been generally accepted. Borman and Brush (1993) developed an 18-factor solution explaining job performance. To achieve this, they had experienced industrial psychologists sort published and unpublished studies of managerial performance (resulting in 187 managerial performance dimensions) into similar content domains and they then factor analysed the resultant correlation matrix. They categorised performance in terms of:

• planning and organising
• guiding, directing motivating
• training, coaching and developing
• communicating
• representing the organisation
• technical proficiency
• administration and paperwork
• maintaining good relationships
• coordinating subordinates and others
• decision-making and problem-solving
• staffing
• persisting to reach goals
• handling crises
• organisational commitment
• monitoring and controlling resources
• delegating
• selling and influencing
• collecting and interpreting data

Borman and Brush (1993) believed that these dimensions compared well with previous attempts to derive a taxonomic structure of managerial performance. Categorisation of non-management performance dimensions includes work by Viswesvaran (1993) who suggested ten performance dimensions:

• overall job performance
• productivity
• effort
• job knowledge
• interpersonal competence
• administrative competence
• quality
• communication competence
• leadership
• compliance with rules

Other authors (e.g., Thoresen et al., 2004) note that the nature of work has been changing over time, leading to the need for a theme within performance measurement that captures the necessity to assess a number of competencies — technical or personal — with the expectation that work is no longer static – the individual is no longer fixed to one job. Moreover, the individual is required to possess a number of skills and competencies and to be flexible in their application as, and when, necessary (Cascio, 1995). This leads on to a distinction that has been made between task and contextual performance (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993).