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‘A+ is a plus in the workplace

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

Psychometric testing has been used to measure aptitude, intelligence and personality for many years. But recently there has been a  steep increase in their use in the employment sector, as companies have started using them to help whittle down candidates. However, in his book “Outliers,” the author, Malcolm Gladwell,  posits that these sort of tests that employers do on poor candidates wanting to be employed -can’t really distinguish between the best people. I have even heard people suggesting that choosing people by starting at the top of a list of test scores doesn’t make sense, and instead it would be better to pick randomly among people who score in the top half or third.

So is there no correlation with intelligence and work performance – yes there is! Studies have found that there is a discernible link between how smart you are and how you’re likely to perform at work. Of course this doesn’t mean that all smart people are good and productive employees because I know too many who while they might be as sharp as a razor are as lazy as a sloth, but evidence does suggest that you have got a better chance of getting good work performance out of an employee who is smart than from the one who is a dullard. Why is this? Well unless you are on an assembly line where your job involves rote tasks like pressing a button repeatedly, work today is mostly about exercising judgment and solving problems and the smarter you are, the better equipped you are to do this.

Paul Sackett, of the University of Minnesota, co-wrote an article in Psychology today which stated that research showed that people with higher scores on aptitude tests do better in the work place:   The research looked at four large studies of people who have taken aptitude tests. For one, the College Board collected SAT scores for all the students entering 110 colleges in 2006, and also their freshman GPA; that study included more than 150,000 people: In another, the Army collected scores from people who took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, then later evaluated more than 5000 of them on how well they did in their jobs; the higher the test scores, the better the test takers performed later.

It’s a frustrating thing for job applicants to hear that they are "overqualified" for a position, especially when they have made the choice to apply for the position in the first place so why do some employers shy away from employing people who are too intelligent, too smart or that they consider to be over-qualified? I hear it from employers a lot: ‘maybe they will get bored’, ‘how will I control them?’ 

Yet two recent findings challenge this familiar belief that employing people who are overqualified is a bad idea. Some employers are finding that more education is a plus when hiring for a position, even if the job itself does not require a university degree. According to a career-building survey more people than ever now consider a degree essential for a job, even if the job previously did not require a candidate to have one. The study found that “38 percent of employers have raised their educational requirements over the last five years.

Forty-one percent of employers are hiring college-educated workers for positions that had been primarily held by those with high-school degrees, compared to 37 percent in 2016”. The survey also revealed that 61 percent of respondents said they're hiring university educated workers for positions that had been filled by senior school graduates because the skills for those positions had evolved and required higher-educated labour. Not to mention that the tight job market makes it easier, especially in Botswana, to only hire workers with university degrees.

"Roles across the board, even entry-level positions, are evolving and becoming more complex," says CareerBuilder Chief Human Resources Officer Rosemary Haefner. "Employers are looking for workers with a solid knowledge base and skill-set that can make an impact on the business right away."

The Academy of Management Journal published research from Rice University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong which stated that hiring university-educated workers for jobs that didn't previously require a degree makes sense because those workers – or ones who consider themselves overqualified for the job in question – are generally more productive and innovative.

The paper is based on two studies, one of 327 teachers and 85 supervisors at six high schools in China and the other of nearly 300 factory worker technicians. The teachers were asked to rate themselves, on a scale of one (strongly disagree) to seven (strongly agree), whether they were overqualified for their job. Next, they were asked to respond to what extent – on a scale of one (never) to seven (very often) — they had engaged in "job crafting," such as introducing new approaches of their own to teaching or organizing special classroom events.

The teachers' supervisors were also asked to rate them on creativity and "organizational citizenship." The study concluded that teachers who viewed themselves as "modestly overqualified" tended to do more job crafting than their colleagues who viewed themselves as either more overqualified or less. Teachers who tended to do more job crafting were, in turn, more likely to be highly rated by their supervisors for creativity and organizational citizenship.

The study involving factory workers consisted of two exercises: In the first, the researchers determined which workers were overqualified for their positions by having them assemble a helicopter model in a timed exercise. Next, the participants were asked to design and assemble within 30 minutes at least one toy boat patterned after a rough model that was projected on a screen. Participants were rated on how many components they used in creating the toy boats, indicating "the degree of self-driven effort for altering task boundary, i.e. task-crafting."

Workers who rated themselves as modestly overqualified for their positions used the most components in assembling their boats, outdoing their peers who were most overqualified. The researchers concluded that workers who are "modestly overqualified" for their positions appear to bring extra creativity and helpfulness to the job, though another conclusion might have been that though modesty forbade these workers from claiming excessive over-qualification, they may in fact have been more so than their more boastful peers.

So what is the message for you if you are hiring people? It’s this: do not turn away job applicants who appear overqualified, because such individuals, if managed appropriately, will bring greater depths of creativity and organisational skills to the table than a middle-of-the-road candidate.  Or to put it quite simply, to hire an average candidate and expect more than an average performance makes Jack a dull employer!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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