"Fit for Purpose" Validation Study on BT Sales Employees

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“Fit for Purpose”

Validation Study on BT Sales Employees

Produced for

December 2004



Executive Summary        

Background and Objectives        

Method and Procedures        



Performance Criteria        


System Norms        

System Validity        

Beta Weights        


Appendix A – Procedures and Analyses        

Appendix B - Norms Per Job Group        

Executive Summary

Around 600 sales people were assessed from August - November 2004 from 5 job groups within the Major Business team of the Commercial & Brands business unit of BT Retail. The main aim was to provide BT with information about the profile of good performers within the different groups in their sales force. This exercise was intended as a first step in the process of understanding the profile required for BT’s future sales force to ensure that BT can remain competitive in what has become a fast-moving and rapidly changing industry,

This exercise was run as a validation study which enabled a broad range of assessments to be given so that they could later be refined to provide BT with bespoke assessments which only assess those qualities proven to impact on BT sales employee performance.

30 scales of CareerHarmony’s major new personality inventory were administered, along with an Interpersonal Conflict Coping Inventory, and 3 ability tests.

As expected there was a minor variation in which tests were found to be most predictive for each job group. At least two of the three cognitive tests predicted performance for each job family, and the emphasis of the personality scales differed for the various job groups.

An overall profile of competencies was identified that predicts good performance for the entire population assessed. This includes the three cognitive assessments, and 11 personality scales (Adaptable, Ambitious, Communicative, Dependable, Decisive, Emotionally Stable, Leadership, Problem Solving, Resourceful, Self Confident, and Self Developing).

When further assessments are administered it is recommended that a bespoke assessment session is created that contains just these tests. The validation exercise has shown that we can use a single BT norm across all job groups. This assessment can be created so that it provides a score for each job group, enabling managers to see the relative fit of an employee or candidate to each position.

Next steps

A higher level of validity was consistently achieved for the managers’ ratings than for the DPR score. This could highlight a weakness in the DPR process and should be investigated.

The personality scales were not found to be as predictive for the Sales Farmer group. This could also be caused by a problem with the DPR process in this job group, or potentially additional assessments may be required for this group. This should be investigated.

To provide BT with a better understanding of the desired profile of their future sales force we need to be sure we are looking at a representative sample of the existing BT sales force. We would therefore recommend widening the validation exercise to establish whether the results found for the UK based Major Business team within the Commercial & Brands business unit are representative of other business units in the UK and abroad.

Now we have an understanding of the profile of good performers in the Major Business team of the Commercial & Brands business unit we recommend starting the process of identifying how the employee profiles need to differ to ensure they can also be successful in the future.

Once we have a clear understanding of the existing and future good performers, then we can map the development and recruitment processes required to ensure BT successfully adapts the employee profile that it has now, to the one it needs in the future.  We propose a meeting in January at which we can discuss these issues, and the synergies with the RightSkills project further.

Background and Objectives

Fit for Purpose is an internal BT project, aimed at preparing and planning for the anticipated changes in the business aims, strategies, operation and structure in future years. Manpower has been engaged with the Fit for Purpose team in order to develop an assessment tool that can measure current employees’ personality and abilities, and be used to further their ultimate potential performance.

The first stage of the project saw the development of a tailored Internet based assessment tool, by CareerHarmony, a Manpower company. The content of the assessment battery consisted of a selection of tests which would provide an overview of an individual’s competencies including cognitive and personality aspects.

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It was decided to pilot and validate the assessment battery using data collected from employees of the BT Commercial and Brands business unit.  The aims of the pilot were to tailor the assessment tools’ norms to fit BT’s employee population, as well as to optimize the tools’ ability to predict successful job performance. An additional aim of the pilot was to study the differences between the different job families within Major Business. Specifically, the pilot aimed to check whether differential norms are required, and whether different combination of competencies assessment provide better predictors for the different job families.


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