Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Edmonds-Ward, L and Trendell, B, Merit based selection and performance assessment for mineworkers, in Aziz, N (ed), Coal 1998: Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1998, 16-22.


While objective selection and assessments are an accepted part of employing managers and other staff, they have had only a limited place when selecting mineworkers in Australia. Wambo Mining Corporation has used occupational testing as part of its recruitment process since 1994. For managers and staff in particular, it is considered this has contributed significantly to a 95 % fit of those appointees. In 1997 when Wambo undertook development of a new "on site" subsidiary underground mine called Wollemi Services, they wanted to select the most appropriate people in terms of skill and on the job performance. To achieve this they reviewed and improved their recruitment processes to facilitate selection and transfer of an initial intake of almost 50 staff and mineworkers. One of the issues for Human Resource Management was to provide an environment where employees could let go of previously held (but not necessarily individually believed) entrenched views about individual performance and assessment. It needed to be emphasised that performance could be objectively and fairly assessed. More importantly, the performance being assessed was the application of skills and that new skills could be learnt and individuals could choose to change behaviour. A process was agreed between management, employees and their local representatives to select and transfer people on merit from within shift groups. In the f"lrst intake, three supervisors and thirty-nine production workers were selected from an existing workforce of over two hundred. Part of the process to ensure validity and to help people feel comfortable was an objective job analysis for positions. From a computer-based analysis, person specifications were developed and appropriate test batteries identified to facilitate selection. A combination of a self-report occupational personality or work styles questionnaire and several ability tests were used. In addition, each employee and two supervisors completed an assessment of the employee's current work performance. Candidates were provided with individual feedback about their self-assessments, performance feedback from supervisors and asked to respond to a number of questions about their interest in and potential contribution to the new operation. When selecting employees, assessments of skills and additional competencies were also considered. The validity of the self-report assessments has since been confinned in a correlation analysis of the results with supervisor feedback on performance. In addition the results have been analysed to identify development needs for all candidates. It was essential that the overall process was confidential so that people would be prepared to participate and the vast majority of people took up the competitive challenge. In the four months since the process, there has been a significant breakdown of restrictive practices. As expected, there was a productivity improvement at the new site. In addition, at the existing mine there has been a significant realignment of individual performance with many individuals being dynamic, progressive and showing real responsibility in their work.