SHL survey

Asian workers more likely to take the long view

Personality traits among Asian job candidates show sharp differences from international benchmarks, according to a recent survey.
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Taking the long view
<div style="text-align: left;"> Taking the long view </div>

There could well be a solution to banks’ problems with management and staff. Reeling from one scandal after another, which too often display evidence of a cultural malaise, they might simply consider hiring more Asians.

Instead of looking for the quick buck, workers in the region seem better prepared to develop sustainable business practices, according to a report released yesterday, which found that job candidates from Asian countries share three common traits with “consistent deviations from the international benchmark”.

They are likely to concentrate more on the longer term than the immediate situation, tend to prefer a steady pace of work rather than thriving on activity and need more time to establish a relationship with people rather than building up an initial rapport.

“There are some unique personality traits reported by candidates from different countries, thus highlighting the importance of acknowledging cultural differences in global assessments,” concluded SHL, a human resources firm that specialises in talent measurement.

Its findings were derived from reviewing personality profiles from its occupational personality questionnaire of more than 337,000 individuals across 19 countries and 15 different languages.

Of course, there are many problems in making inferences from responses to surveys, not least that it is impossible to take into account the diverse, individual influences on people’s attitudes and behaviour. Geographical location is hardly sufficient in itself.

Also, forming consistent conclusions is difficult. For instance, SHL found that Chinese candidates typically show large deviations from the international benchmark. But, although they take a “distinctly longer term view”, they are more likely to dislike bureaucracy and excessive work demands, and despite a tendency to be independent minded, they are less likely than most to express those views.

That doesn’t indicate a stronger moral compass. After all, unless their firm’s long-term objectives are “ethical”, the one conclusion might be that candidates could be more inclined to cut corners and conform to bad behaviour.

In addition, SHL found that “Chinese and Indian candidates enjoy more competitive activities, dislike losing and have a stronger need to win”.

Other regional idiosyncrasies included similar profiles among candidates from Japan, Korea and Thailand. SHL found that they tend to get more nervous before important events and worry about things going wrong, are more adaptable yet “follow their own approach rather than go with the majority”.

SHL provides more than 25 million assessments each year and is present in more than 50 countries. The questionnaire is designed to provide businesses with information on aspects of an individual’s behavioural style that will affect their performance at work. As many as 32 specific personality characteristics are incorporated in the tests.

At some point, most of us have had to complete them, and of course there is a drawback: the answer to many of the questions is actually: “I don’t know” or “it depends”. But, better use of such tools might help weed out the obvious psychopaths. On the other hand, one of their characteristics is dishonesty and another is plausibility.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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