Ability refers to an individual’s capacity to perform the various tasks in a job. An individual’s overall abilities are essentially made up of the following factors:
1. Intellectual Abilities, and
2. Physical Abilities.
Intellectual ability commonly refers to the ability measured by performance on an intelligence test. It is also sometimes used in the context of discussing the performance of someone in an academic or real world setting.
Intellectual Abilities are those that are needed to perform mental activities usually involving thinking and reasoning. Mental activities can be measured by intelligent quotient (IQ) tests that are designed to ascertain one’s general mental abilities. Some familiar examples of such tests are Common Admission Tests (CAT), Management programs admission tests (GMAT), law (LSAT), and medical (MCAT), etc. Usually these tests try to measure and evaluate one’s mental abilities on various academic areas pertaining to the success in the relevant courses, such as mathematics, English, General knowledge etc.
It is believed that there are a few different dimensions of mental abilities. Some of the most frequently cited dimensions of intellectual capacities are: Number Aptitude (Mathematics), Verbal Comprehension (English), Perceptual Speed, Reasoning, Deductive Reasoning, Spatial Visualization and Memory. Generally speaking, the more information processing is required in a job, the more general intelligence and verbal abilities will be necessary to perform the job successfully. Of course, a high IQ is not a prerequisite for all. In Fact, for many jobs in which employee behavior is highly routine and there are little or no opportunities to exercise discretion, a high IQ may be unrelated to performance. On the other hand, a careful review of the evidence demonstrates that tests that assess verbal, numerical, spatial, and perceptual ability are valid predictors of job proficiency at all levels of jobs. Therefore, tests measure specific dimensions of intelligence have been found to be strong predictors of future job performance.
Relevance of Intellectual Ability to OB
Organizational behavior is traditionally considered as the study of human behavior in the work place. Employee performance is enhanced when an employee and position are well matched—what we call a high ability–job fit. If we focus only on the employee’s abilities or the ability requirements of the job, we ignore the fact that employee performance depends on the interaction of the two. What predictions can we make when the fit is poor? If employees lack the required abilities, they are likely to fail. If you’re hired as a word processor and you can’t meet the job’s basic keyboard typing requirements, your performance is going to be poor in spite of your positive attitude or your high level of motivation. When an employee has abilities that far exceed the requirements of the job, our predictions would be very different. The employee’s performance may be adequate, but it may be accompanied by organizational inefficiencies and possible declines in employee satisfaction because the employee is frustrated by the limitations of the job. Additionally, given that pay tends to reflect the highest skill level that employees possess, if an employee’s abilities far exceed those necessary to do the job, management will be paying more than it needs to pay. In a nutshell, an employee’s job specifications should be in line with his intellectual abilities. That way, he’ll be able to execute his duties excellently and effortlessly, as well as obtaining maximum job satisfaction.