Defining Job Performance: Three Essential Facets

By Caroline Roberson on June 8, 2022

When hiring managers think about defining job performance, they often focus on the things that predict an employee’s task performance like skills or experience. But that task performance is just one piece of the performance puzzle.

There are two other facets of job performance that recruiters and hiring managers should consider when defining what “success” on the job looks like: organizational citizenship behaviors and counterproductive work behaviors. Defining job performance can be tricky, but reviewing all three facets of job performance will help better determine the traits and abilities that matter.

Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) are actions that go against the goals and aims of the organization. While not all CWBs are illegal, these behaviors won’t help your organization. Examples of CWBs might include showing up late for work, excessive gossiping, or wasting work time surfing the internet.

In contrast, organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) occur when an employee demonstrates being a good organization citizenship and indicate high motivation and commitment. In other words, OCBs include the actions that go above and beyond what’s expected in an employee’s job description. These are actions and behaviors that aren’t critical or required for the job, but they do benefit organizational efficiency and results.

Finally, task and skill performance are facets that determine how well someone can perform the core job duties of an employee. The quality and quantity of work outcomes, as well as the deliverables an employee is capable of producing, are often predicted by a person’s skills, knowledge, and cognitive ability.

How can you evaluate candidates for all facets of job performance?

Personality is a good way to predict CWBs and OCBs. Personality traits describe how an individual relates to the world. Personality affects how people naturally act or think in various situations. Understanding a candidate’s personality helps recruiters and hiring managers identify if a person will be naturally motivated to behave in ways that are expected by the organization, increasing the chances they will exhibit OCBs and decreasing the chances they’ll engage in CWBs.

For example, let’s look at conscientiousness. Assessing for conscientiousness in a pre-hire personality test helps identify candidates who are more likely to be diligent and thorough. Conscientious people are more likely to be on time, to work efficiently, and will do what they can to overcome obstacles. They also tend to be highly organized, productive workers with a good work ethic. A high score in conscientiousness indicates that a candidate is likely to demonstrate OCBs.

Conversely, if a candidate takes a pre-hire assessment that returns low scores in conscientiousness, the recruiter and hiring manager will want to assess further to determine if the candidate is prone to counterproductive behaviors. Lacking focus and a disregard for deadlines or timely submission of work could indicate a higher likelihood of CWBs.

There are a few ways you can assess candidates’ skills and task performance. Work samples, references, and pre-hire tests all provide insight into whether or not a person will be able to complete the required job duties.

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Most employees understand that their top priority is to complete assigned tasks. Ideally, the candidates you’re recruiting also want to avoid counterproductive behaviors, and hopefully, they have a desire to serve as an organizational citizen. When making hiring decisions, you don’t want to leave these facets of performance out of the equation. Make sure you have processes and tools in place to measure all three facets of job performance.

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