When Workers Rate the Boss

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<ul><li><p>When Workers Rate the Boss By J. C . RUPE, Human Resources Research Center, USAFl </p><p>SUMMARY </p><p>T H E evaluation of personnel in relation to the success of their organizations is an important and well recognized problem. Much study has been made of the rating of the great body of workers, but what constitutes a good or poor executive has had little if any serious attention as a scientific problem. This is not to say that there is not a mass of literature regarding the executive nor that it is not of value. However, nearly the whole of it is the product of experience on the job and casual observation. Such writings may very well be valid, but as science they have, at best, the status of plausible hypotheses to be tested rather than the status of being offered as proved formulae for making poor executives good and good ones better. </p><p>The present study is one attempt to examine presumably relevant aspects of executives. It is perhaps unique in that it is concerned with a worms-eye view of executives-an ap- praisal of their characteristics by subordinates who know them and directly experience their administrative procedures. This information for the executive about himself may be used for self-improvement or for the improvement of understanding between himself and his employees. </p><p>J . C . Rupe has been a project director in the Job Analysis Division of the Technical Training Research Laboratory of the Human Resources Research Center, Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, since receiving his Ph.D. from Purdue University in February, 1960. He was an instructor i n psychology at Carnegie Institute of Technology for two years and taught at Purdue while completing his degree. He i s a member of the American Psychological Association, Division of Industrial and Business Psychology. </p><p>This is a summary of a doctoral dissertation accomplished under the direction of H. H. Remmers and on file in the library at Purdue University. Its original title was Some Psychological Dimensions of Business and Industrial Executives. </p><p>271 </p></li><li><p>272 J. C. RUPE </p><p>The Purdue Rating Scale for Administrators and Executives2 was used to measure executives effectiveness. A further pur- pose of the study was to evaluate this scale and to compare the findings with a prior study conducted with academic ad- ministrators of institutions of higher learning. (4) The results indicate that it is possible to measure the traits of business and industrial executives by means of a subordinate-executive rating scale. The Purdue Rating Scale for Administrators and Executives has demonstrated this possibility with acceptably high reliabilities and satisfactory evidence of validity. Halo effect does not appear to be of major importance. Two factors common to various traits of business and industrial executives can be measured. These factors, as determined by this study, are (1) social responsibility to subordinates and society and (2) executive achievement. As measured by this scale, the similarities between executives and academic administrators appear to be much greater than their dissimilarities. </p><p>This scale does not give all the answers that might be desired concerning executive ability. It does provide an executive who wishes it an honest and anonymous appraisal of his effective- ness as seen by his subordinates. It permits him to compare these appraisals with those of other executives. It provides a means of arriving at information which will highlight areas of strength and weakness which are difficult to survey in any other way. </p><p>INTRODUCTION A survey of the literature indicates that most interest has </p><p>been in the identification of universal traits of leadership or executive ability. Such identification is not the purpose of this paper, but rather it seeks a means of accurate evaluation of the leader in terms of his interaction with other persons within his sphere of influence. Such an evaluation may or may not be of direct usefulness to the individuals superiors. For reasons dis- </p><p>2 Published by the Division of Educational Reference, Personnel Evaluation Re- search and Service, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana. </p></li><li><p>WHEN WORKERS RATE THE BOSS 273 </p><p>cussed later, the executives rating by his subordinates may be withheld from his superiors, but it may be of inestimable value to the individual himself and indirectly to his group by enabling him to identify and to do something about the areas of strength and weakness in his total make-up. </p><p>The weight of the evidence reviewed would seem to justify the following conclusions :3 </p><p>1. Executive leadership is not the mere possession of some combination of traits. It is rather a working relationship among members of a group striving toward mutual goals. Success is determined on the basis of many of the attitudes and values generally accepted by middle-class American society. </p><p>2. The accurate measurement of the attitudes of the working group would do much to indicate the effectiveness of its leader- ship. </p><p>3. Rating scales are probably most commonly used in atti- tude measurement but, as usually used in business and in- dustrial evaluation, they have suffered from errors due to halo effect and too few raters being qualified by training, actual knowledge of the work of the ratee, and sufficient time in which to do the rating. 4. As demonstrated by teacher and academic administrator </p><p>evaluation by students and subordinates, the usual errors in the use of rating scales are minimized. The results attained may be used by the ratee for self-improvement and/or, by appro- priate educative means, the development of better understand- ing of him and his procedures among his raters. </p><p>Bittner (1) reports that people prefer to be rated by their supervisors rather than by their subordinates. No executive, of course, can avoid being rated. His colleagues constantly judge him. His only choice is whether or not he wants to know what these ratings are. Many hypotheses may be drawn for this preference to be rated by supervisors. The ratee has been judged by his superiors, parents, teachers, etc., been advised </p><p>3 For the review of the literature see the original dissertation on file in the Purdue University Library. </p></li><li><p>274 J. C. RUPE </p><p>of these evaluations, and become accustomed to the practice. There are many reasons, however, why more valuable informa- tion may be gained by deliberately measuring the attitudes of the subordinates. The amount of the executives time on the job spent with supervisors is far less than that spent with his employees. He will tend consciously to conduct himself so as to favorably impress his boss, thus assuring, in his own mind, a good rating, but his unconscious behavior traits will often be demonstrated for his employees. He may be so unaware of these traits that he cannot identify some of the ways in which he is either positively or negatively affecting his employees. They also tend to show their most agreeable sides to him, clouding his accurate estimate of their attitudes toward him and preventing his identification and evaluation of these traits. The question, What do they really think of me? may be very threatening to the individual with basic feelings of in- security. Whether such persons should be in executive posi- tions is beside the point. Most people have such feelings in some areas. The point is, however, that if subordinate ratings are to be used most beneficially, considerable caution must be exercised in the form of information to the persons concerned as to their purpose and the use to be made of them. This must be done if feelings of job security are not to be completely undermined by suspicions that the big boss is trying to spy or to clean house. Assurance must be given that this is not the case and that results are to be exclusively for the ratee for such use as may seem desirable to him. </p><p>Education of the raters in the program is also necessary. It is reasonable to assume that anonymity must be assured to avoid the same suspicions and to obtain honest judgments. </p><p>If properly conducted, subordinate-superior ratings can make a definite contribution to all concerned. When an execu- tive shows his subordinates that he is interested in their honest opinions of him for his own improvement and convinces them that he has no ulterior motives, improved morale and more hearty cooperation toward attaining mutual goals are most likely to result. </p></li><li><p>WHEN WORKERS RATE THE BOSS 275 </p><p>PROCEDURE The Purdue Rating Scale for Administrators and Executives </p><p>by H. H. Remmers and R. L. Hobson was used for this study. It is composed of 36 items, each of which is arranged with five possible quantitative responses. Five represented the greatest amount of the characteristic and one the least. The items are grouped into ten logical groups as follows: </p><p>I Intellectual Balance I1 Emotional Balance </p><p>I11 Leadership IV Planning </p><p>VI Capacity for Work V Use of Funds </p><p>VII Accomplishment </p><p>IX Public Relations VIII Relations with Subordinates </p><p>X Social Responsibility A guarantee of anonymity was made to each executive who </p><p>participated. Assurance was given that his ratings would be released to him alone and that any publication of the results of the study would be in such form as to make identification of any ratee impossible. This was assumed most likely to en- courage more active participation in the project. </p><p>Each executive distributed a rating scale, an IBM mark- sensing card, and an electrographic pencil to each subordinate who was to rate him. A stamped envelope, addressed to the investigator, was also provided. The rater did not put his own name on the rating materials and, since he mailed them di- rectly, his anonymity was also assured. </p><p>It was not expected that a random sample of the popula- tion of executives could be obtained. Voluntary participation was requested. This resulted in a self-selected sample. The findings, then, are descriptive of this particular group of execu- tives who wished to know how they were rated by their sub- ordinates. </p><p>The sample used resulted from a solicitation by mail and personal contact. It was composed of 133 executives rated by </p></li><li><p>276 J. C. RUPE </p><p>702 subordinates who were associated with eight organiza- tions from widely scattered points throughout the United States. These were a large national bank, a wholesale and re- tail merchandising institution, a manufacturer of structural glass, a manufacturer of airplane parts and accessories, a man- ufacturer of machine equipment, a manufacturer of valves and castings, a manufacturer of chains, and a manufacturer of chemical products. The executives ranged in rank from presidents down to, but not including, foremen. </p><p>The 133 executives were rated by from one to seventeen direct subordinates, with a mean number of 5.3 raters. Nineteen had insufficient or incomplete responses and these were not used in the statistical analysis of the scale. </p><p>When the ratings had been received, the mark-sensing cards were processed and tabulations were prepared by IBM equip- ment. Average ratings on each item for each executive were then calculated and percentile norms on each item computed from them. Table 1 presents these norms. </p><p>A profile sheet was then prepared so that each executive could draw his profile and see from it those traits in which he was relatively strong or weak in comparison with other execu- tives. A report of the ratings as well as the average rating on each item was included with this profile sheet, and this, with a covering letter of explanation, was sent to each executive. </p><p>A statistical evaluation of the scale was made and a factor analysis performed. A comparison of the results of the analysis was made with those of a prior study conducted by Hobson (4) with academic administrators of institutions of higher learn- ing. </p><p>STATISTICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SCALE ReZiabiZity of the Items. For obvious reasons it was not con- </p><p>sidered possible in this situation to use a test-retest method for determining the extent to which an executive might expect to obtain about the same score on subsequent ratings. The method chosen for determining reliability was analogous to the com- mon split-half technique. Each test for each executive was, </p></li><li><p>WHEN WORKERS RATE THE BOSS 277 </p><p>TABLE 1 Percentile Norms on the Purdue Rating Scale f o r Administrators and Executives </p><p>ITEM NO. </p><p>1 2 </p><p>3 4 5 6 </p><p>7 8 9 </p><p>10 11 12 13 14 </p><p>15 16 17 </p><p>18 19 20 </p><p>21 22 23 </p><p>24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 </p><p>34 </p><p>35 36 </p><p>0 </p><p>3.0 3.0 </p><p>3.0 3.0 2.0 2.8 </p><p>2.0 2.6 2.7 </p><p>2.5 2.7 3.0 2.8 2.8 </p><p>3.0 2.0 2.0 </p><p>3.3 2.5 3.0 </p><p>3.0 3.0 3.0 </p><p>2.4 3.0 2.7 3.0 3.1 2.0 3.3 2.6 3.3 2.4 </p><p>2.8 </p><p>2.8 3.0 </p><p>10 </p><p>3.9 4.0 </p><p>3.8 4.0 2.7 3.3 </p><p>2.9 3.8 3.5 </p><p>3.6 3.7 3.5 3.8 3.8 </p><p>4.0 4.0 3.4 </p><p>3.8 3.7 4.0 </p><p>4.0 4.0 4.0 </p><p>3.0 4.2 3.4 3.5 4.0 3.7 4.0 3.8 4.2 3.5 </p><p>4.0 </p><p>3.5 4.0 </p><p>20 </p><p>4.0 4.3 </p><p>4.0 4.2 2.9 3.7 </p><p>3.3 4.0 3.9 </p><p>3.8 3.8 3.8 3.9 4.0 </p><p>4.3 4.1 3.7 </p><p>4.1 3.9 4.1 </p><p>4.1 4.1 4.1 </p><p>3.3 4.4 3.7 3.8 4.3 4.0 4.1 4.0 4.3 3.8 </p><p>4.2 </p><p>3.8 4.2 </p><p>30 </p><p>4.2 4.4 </p><p>4.1 4.3 3.0 3.8 </p><p>3.5 4.2 4.0 </p><p>4.0 3.9 4.0 4.0 4.2 </p><p>4.4 4.3 3.9 </p><p>4.5 4.0 4.3 </p><p>4.3 4.3 4.3 </p><p>3.7 4.5 3.9 4.0 4.6 4.2 4.3 4.2 4.5 3.9 </p><p>4.3 </p><p>3.9 4.4 </p><p>PEBCENTILES </p><p>40 </p><p>4.2 4.5 </p><p>4.2 4.4 3.3 4.0 </p><p>3.7 4.3 4.3 </p><p>4.2 4.3 4.1 4.2 4.3 </p><p>4.5 4.4 4.0 </p><p>4.6 4.3 4.4 </p><p>4.4 4.3 4.4 </p><p>3.8 4.7 4.0 4.1 4.7 4.3 4.5 4.3 4.6 4.0 </p><p>4.4 </p><p>4.0 4.5 </p><p>50 </p><p>4.3 4.6 </p><p>4.3 4.5 3.5 4.3 </p><p>3.8 4.5 4.4 </p><p>4.3 4.4 4.3 4.3 4.4 </p><p>4.6 4.5 4.2 </p><p>4.7 4.4 4.5 </p><p>4.5 4.5 4.5 </p><p>4.0 4.8 4.2 4.3 4.8 4.5 4.7 4.4 4.7 4.1 </p><p>4.5 </p><p>4.2 4.7 </p><p>60 </p><p>4.4 4.7 </p><p>4.4 4.6 3.7 4.4 </p><p>4.0 4.5 4.5 </p><p>4.4 4.5 4.4 4.4 4.5 </p><p>4.7 4.6 4.3 </p><p>4.8 4.5 4.6 </p><p>4.6 4.6 4.7 </p><p>4.0 4.9 4.3 4.4 4.9 4.6 4.8 4.5 4.8 4.3 </p><p>4.7 </p><p>4.3 4.8 </p><p>70 </p><p>4.5 4.8 </p><p>4.5 4.7 3.8 4.5 </p><p>4.1 4.7 4.6 </p><p>4.5 4.7 4.5 4.5 4.7 </p><p>4.8 4.7 4.4 </p><p>4.9 4.7 4.7 </p><p>4.7 4.7 4.8 </p><p>4.3 4.9 4.4 4.5 4.9 4.8 4.8 4.7 4.9 4.4 </p><p>4.8 </p><p>4.4 4.9 </p><p>80 </p><p>4.6 4.9 </p><p>4.7 4.8 4.0 4.6 </p><p>4.3 4.8 4.7 </p><p>4.8 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.8 </p><p>4.9 4.8 4.5 </p><p>5.0 4.8 4.9 </p><p>4.8 4.8 4.9 </p><p>4.5 5.0 4.7 4.7 5.0 4.8 4.9 4.8 5.0 4.5 </p><p>4.9 </p><p>4.5 5.0 </p><p>90 </p><p>4.7 5.0 </p><p>4.8 4.9 4.3 4.8 </p><p>4.5 4.9 4.8 </p><p>4.9 4.9 4.8 4.8 4.9 </p><p>5.0 4.9 4.9 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>4.8 5.0 4.8 4.8 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.8 </p><p>5.0 </p><p>4.8 5.0 - </p><p>100 </p><p>5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 4.8 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 </p><p>5.0 </p><p>5.0 5.0 </p></li><li><p>278 J. C. RUPE </p><p>in effect, split in half and the two halves were paired in obtain- ing the coefEcient of reliability. Each item on the scale had then to be considered a test in itself and the raters the items, in the usual sense, on that test. This would result in a coefficient of reliability for each item rather than of the scale as a whole, which would then become a battery of 36 tests. Since each executive had different raters, this would be like having different items on a test. It follows, then, that equivalent, not identical, forms for each test were admin- istered, for it was assumed that each subordinate had an equiv- alent opportunity to make judgments of his superior. Also, there was a different equivalent form for each executive who was rated. In view of the i...</p></li></ul>