Do what you love, love what you do: New tool offers ways to measure work preferences.

Whistle while you work…”

Irma Becerra-Fernandez
G. Ronald Gilbert

So sing the merry dwarfs in the Walt Disney animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as they go about doing their work. If only everyone could be this happy on the job.

They can learn to be—with the help of a new multidimensional work-related psychological tool, the Work Preference Indicator (WPI), developed by G. Ronald Gilbert, clinical professor, Department of Management and International Business in the College of Business Administration.

According to Gilbert, familiar psychological and work-interest assessment tools offer a one-dimensional view of a person’s work-related passions and how they translate into academic and career success.

He believes viewing multiple areas of personality in one psychological snapshot offers more valuable guidance. To that end, he has been working for nearly a decade creating and refining the WPI.

Unique tool offers insights in both academic and professional contexts.

The WPI works equally well in academic and business environments, helping students and employees pinpoint career- and work-related choices for which they are best suited. The tool sheds light on the degree to which one may find job fulfillment when working in teams, leading others, or being supervised by others. It also identifies one’s preferred manner of learning and offers insights into work values and work-interest motivations.

“The goal is to help people discover what they love to do,” Gilbert said. “To venture a metaphor, the WPI is not intended to add a radically new color to the career developer’s or academic counselor’s professional palette. Because it is a multidimensional tool, it provides a unique mix of colors at one time through one instrument—validly, reliably, and practically.”

WPI gains acceptance as a scientific career development tool.

According to Gilbert, the WPI has been repeatedly validated. He integrates the WPI into orientation sessions for the college’s Executive MBA and Professional MBA programs and in his professional development workshops. As WPI use expands to other countries, including Australia, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Jamaica, and Malaysia, Gilbert and other faculty members gain cross-national research opportunities.

He and two colleagues, including Adriana G. McEachern, associate professor, School of Education, Florida International University, recently co-authored a paper about the WPI entitled “Measuring Work Preferences: A Multidimensional Tool to Enhance Career Self-Management,” published in Career Development International in January, 2008.

Additionally, in a study Gilbert conducted with Clifford Perry, associate dean for the college’s undergraduate programs and academic affairs, along with two department colleagues, Meredith Burnett, assistant professor, and Dana Farrow, professor, the WPI differentiated high and low performers among front-line production workers.

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