Tag Archives: Manager

Facebook is a Poor Predictor of Performance of Job Applicants

A few months ago, I planned on writing more posts about academic research. I wrote one about spending your bonus on others making you happier (than if you’d spent it on yourself), but haven’t got around to it since. My intentions were good as anyone can see from looking at the list of tweets I’ve favourited over the last 100 days. Just about all the tweets I’ve “bookmarked” to read are academic in nature.

I came across an academic article the other day that seemed quite interesting and reminded me of much of what you hear when you’re in university: be careful what you put online! Even after you’ve graduated, you often hear that your employer (or potential employer) will be watching to see what you put online, so be careful what you put on Facebook. We’re told that it can have an adverse effect on our ability to be hired (or maintain our current employment).

This particular study tried to address a gaping hole in empirical research. That is, the popular press often talk about how important it is to have a pared down social media profile, but there hasn’t been much research studying the effects of potential employers using social media profiles in screening candidates. Before we take a look at some of the results, I wanted to share three important points from the article:

First, as discussed, SM [Social Media] platforms such as Facebook are designed to network with friends and family rather than to measure job-relevant attributes. Indeed, most SM information pertains to applicants’ outside-of-work interests and activities, which may have little bearing on work behavior. This factor, in and of itself, may be enough to suggest that criterion- related validity for SM assessments may be low. [Emphasis added]

The researchers raise an important point that — no doubt — you’ve seen elsewhere. Most people use Facebook in order to connect with friends & family and as a result, it may not be the best measure of how one would function at work.

Second, the sheer volume of SM information also may inhibit decision makers from drawing valid inferences. . . This large amount of information may put demands on decision makers’ ability to process all the potential cues and to determine what information (if any) is relevant and what is not. This situation may cause decision makers to rely on biases and cognitive heuristics may reduce validity. [Emphasis added]

I’ve written extensively about cognitive biases. The researchers mention of the volume of information regarding social media makes me wonder how long before organizations are using Big Data to try and analyze all the social media data in painting a portrait of a candidate.

Finally, inaccurate information may undermine the criterion-related validity of SM assessments. For example, the desire to be perceived as socially desirable may lead applicants to embellish or fabricate information they post on SM, such as experience, qualifications, and achievements. Furthermore, because other people can post information about applicants on SM platforms (e.g., Facebook), applicants do not have complete control of their information. As such, applicants may be unduly “penalized” for what others post. In fact, one study found that comments posted by others on one’s Facebook profile had a greater effect on observers’ impressions than did one’s own comments (Walther, Van Der Heide, Kim, Westerman, & Tong, 2008).

~

In this study, the researchers had recruiters rate Facebook profiles of potential job candidates and then followed up with those job candidates after they’d secured employment. As you might expect from where this post has led, the evaluations the recruiters gave of the potential job candidates based on their Facebook profiles were unrelated to the ratings issued by supervisors on a number of factors: job performance, turnover intentions, and actual turnover. Moreover, these predictions based on Facebook profiles aren’t more useful than other, more common methods: cognitive ability, personality, self-efficacy, or even GPA. What’s more, they found that Facebook ratings were higher for females (vs. males) and that ratings were higher for White candidates (vs. Black and/or Hispanic candidates).

I understand that many managers think more data will help them make better decisions, but as has been demonstrated in this article, when it comes to job candidates, maybe checking their Facebook profiles could lead managers to make the wrong decisions.

ResearchBlogging.orgChad H. Van Iddekinge, Stephen E. Lanivich, Philip L. Roth, & Elliott Junco (2013). Social Media for Selection? Validity and Adverse Impact Potential of a Facebook-Based Assessment Journal of Management DOI: 10.1177/0149206313515524

Is Joe Girardi Really the Second Best Manager in Baseball?

Yesterday, I saw a headline that Joe Girardi was to get a “very generous” contract offer from the New York Yankees. I thought to myself, that’s strange. I thought that the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs this year. That’s right, the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs this year. In fact, the Yankees had their fewest win total since 1992 and missed the playoffs for only the 2nd time in the last 19 season. Do you know who the manager was the last time the Yankees missed the playoffs? Joe Girardi.

Now, before I go on, I want to be clear that I have nothing against Joe Girardi. From everything I’ve read about the guy (and seen), he seems really great. While my favourite team is the Toronto Blue Jays, that doesn’t mean that I have to dislike the managers of opposing teams.

As I was saying, Girardi and the Yankees missed the playoffs this year. They also missed the playoffs in 2008 (Girardi’s first year as a manager of the Yankees). As an aside, I guess it goes to show you just how successful Joe Torre was as the manager of the Yankees. He was the manager from 1996 through 2007 and the Yankees went to the playoffs every year. In Joe Girardi’s tenure as the manager of the Yankees, they’ve gone to the playoffs 4 times (out of 6 seasons) and won the World Series once.

Of particular note, are the last three years for Girardi. Why? Because he signed a new 3-year contract after the 2010 season. So, how’s Girardi fared over the last 3 years? In 2011, the Yankees won their division and made the playoffs, but lost to the Detroit Tigers in the division series. In 2012, the Yankees won their division (again) and made the playoffs. This time, they won the division series against the Baltimore Orioles. However, in the league championship series against the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees lost. In 2013, the Yankees finished tied for third in the division and didn’t make the playoffs.

Just for comparison’s sake, let’s take another American League manager over the last three years. Since the Yankees have lost to the Tigers two years in a row, let’s look at how they’ve performed behind the leadership of Jim Leyland. In 2011, the Tigers finished first in their division and made the playoffs. As I mentioned, they beat the Yankees in the league division series. During the league championship series, the Tigers lost to the Texas Rangers. In 2012, the Tigers finished first in their division. They beat the Oakland Athletics in the league division series and then beat the Yankees in the league championship series. However, they couldn’t beat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. In 2013, the Tigers finished first in their division and are currently playing in the league division series against the Oakland Athletics. In Game 1, they won 3-2. Game 2 of the series is tonight. While the Tigers still have a ways to go before they return to the World Series, they’re a lot closer than Joe Girardi’s Yankees.

Jim Leyland has been making $2 million a year since he signed with the Tigers and has agreed to maintain that salary moving forward. During Girardi’s last contract, he was making $3 million a year. This new offer is said to make him the second highest paid manager in baseball. The current highest paid manager makes $5 million a year.

I realize that some folks will want to take into account different things like playing in a high-profile market like New York, but others would simply say it’s all about winning the World Series. In looking at all of this, the question then becomes: is Girardi really the second best manager in baseball?

Second-Guessing Managers and General Managers

About a week ago, I was watching the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game and there were some questionable decisions made by the manager. (Note: questionable in that they didn’t really make all that much sense to me or another group of fans of the Blue Jays.) Based on the game situation, many viewers of the game who are familiar with the Blue Jays would have anticipated that the manager would have substituted a certain pitcher. However, this didn’t happen. In fact, the manager substituted a player that was completely unexpected.

As someone who wants to see the Blue Jays succeed, it’s flabbergasting when things like this happen. I watched as fans on Twitter were absolutely dumbfounded by the decision. And that one decision *seemingly* affected decisions in the following game. For instance, because some pitchers can’t necessarily pitch on consecutive days, by using one pitcher on Tuesday, he can’t be used on Wednesday. Having played baseball for some time and having a relatively sophisticated understanding of the game (at least when compared to an average fan), I found it hard to determine the reasoning for the decisions made by the manager. Of course, I was assuming that the primary goal was to “win the game.” However, when you consider that this might not always be the only goal, then one can begin to consider different possibilities.

For instance, maybe the general manager (GM) told the manager that he needed to have a certain pitcher showcased in a game because a scout from a different team was going to be in attendance. Or, maybe the GM said that a certain player was about to be called up and another released, so he should use that player in the game. Heck, maybe there are personality issues (or “office politics“) at play that can’t be seen by fans who simply watch the game on TV. Think about the kinds of politics that happen at your office. These kinds of politics are bound to be at play on baseball teams, especially because the personalities might be a bit more extreme (it takes a certain kind of person to become a high-performance athlete). And, sports teams probably spend more time with each other than your typical office does.

My point in all of this is that it can be tough for a fan when a manager makes a move that seems completely counter to what one would think is the primary goal: winning the game.

On a related note, the NHL free agency period recently opened. Much to the chagrin of Toronto Maple Leafs‘ fans, the Leafs decided to let go of their best center, Mikhail Grabovski. Statistically speaking, that is, if you use advanced statistics, there’s no question that Grabovski was the best center on the Leafs. However, as has been noted with statistics, one can interpret the data to fit their opinion. Regardless, the decision by the GM of the Leafs, like the decision of the manager of the Blue Jays, left fans dumbfounded. These moves by the Leafs were even more frustrating because they had to do with personnel. With the explosion of fantasy sports, many fans have had the ability to pretend to be GMs. My guess is that because of this, some fans may think that they know better (and have tangential proof?) than the current GM of their favorite team.

All this is to say that when your favorite team does something that seems contra-indicated, consider that there might be something behind the scenes that you can’t know. I know, this will probably be of little comfort, but it might allow you to gain a more nuanced perspective of the business of sports.