Friday, 23 September 2011

Psychometric Testing, West Africa Style

If you’re planning on travelling to the tiny village of Leba, which is about 50 miles to the north of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, you’ll need to take with you a guide, a translator and a very sturdy four-wheel drive to cope with the total absence of roads.

But once you’re there, you may be fortunate enough to meet the group of 12 women who have established a partnership aimed at improving the village’s harvest of basic foodstuffs, and also attempting to venture out into some very low level rearing of goats. This year, the group’s main focus is on harvesting the sesame crop, to exploit both the seeds and the oil. The group originally got together as result of a church-based literacy programme, and although they don’t currently produce enough to sell, by working together rather than independently, they have realised that participation leads to greater yields of crops.

Membership of the cooperative is a much sought-after honour, as it brings with is not only access to better nutrition, but also increased respect in the community, so some level of selection is required.

I asked the leader of the group how they decided who should be allowed to become a member, and it was clear that even in an environment that is (literally and metaphorically!) thousands of miles away from the concept of psychometric testing, and competency-based assessment, they had established some very clear criteria for acceptance into the group. These were:

Members must be able to demonstrate that they led lives characterised by discipline.

Their definition of “hard-working” is pretty simple; it means someone who doesn’t sleep in in the mornings.

Members of the group receive a small loan to help them get themselves established. To qualify for such a loan, recipients have to be able to point to other innovative practices which they have introduced to improve their livelihoods.

The group functions as a collective, so anyone who has a track record of being argumentative in the village community is unlikely to be accepted.

A stable and well-behaved family life
All of the members of the group are married, with an average of five children each. They have found that in practice, those women who are mothers of settled and well-behaved families are far more able to make a useful contribution to the work of the collective.

So, dear reader of HR Case Studies: would you get onto the shortlist?

1 comment:

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