UnderCover Waitress: Darden and Kenexa

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Darden and Kenexa

Kenexa is the company that Darden hired to create and administer the personality tests that were used to determine who stays on the floor and who is demoted to "server assistant." So, of course, I  became quite curious about exactly what and who Kenexa is. Turns out that they are a huge, multinational company. While I do not think that I have uncovered any smoking guns by perusing their website, I must say that they seem to brag most about how many other companies they have acquired or bought, how much they have grown and how much money they are worth. Instead of appealing to customers by bragging about the great work they produce, the website seems geared toward attracting additional investors. Kenexa is good at making money. 

Kenexa claims that they have been in the business of studying human behavior for twenty-five years. 

According to the Kenexa website, the management team of Kenexa consists of three people:

Nooruddin (Rudy) S. Karsan helped found Kenexa in 1987. His background is in mathematics and actuarial science.

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) describes and defines "actuary:"

"An actuary is a business professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk. Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, especially those of concern to insurance and pension programs. They evaluate the likelihood of those events, design creative ways to reduce the likelihood and decrease the impact of adverse events that actually do occur."

Well, a good psychologist, just like a good actuary, must understand statistics. But an actuary need not have any knowledge of personalities and what makes people tick. Some actuaries might agree with me that treating employees with respect and dignity might result in less money spent training new hires because treating people well increases the chances that they will remain in your employment. Some psychologists may well agree with me on that, as well.

Troy A. Kanter joined Kenexa in 1997. He is the President and Chief Operating Officer. He is referred to as "Mr. Kanter" and is said to have graduated from Doane College; therefore, I assume he has a Bachelor's Degree as opposed to a graduate degree. Obviously, he is not a licensed psychologist. He is, however, the human resources leader at Kenexa.

He oversees "content development." According to Kenexa:

"Since Mr. Kanter joined the company in 1997, Kenexa has expanded its behavior sciences offerings, and Mr. Kanter has built a practice founded in measuring, predicting and enabling workforce performance."

The third of the big three is the Chief Financial Officer, Donald F. Volk. He has a background in Accounting and Taxation.

So, Kanter seems to be the top guy with knowledge of human resources.

They do hire people with backgrounds in psychology, but they call these employees "consultants." Common educational requirements include:

"Ph.D. or MSc in Industrial and Organizational Psychology or Organizational Behavior or area of Social Sciences or an MBA with Emphasis in Human Resources or Organizational Behavior. Strong proven experience in individual or organizational assessment may be considered in conjunction with a Master’s degree. Chartered Occupational Psychologist or progressing towards its’ completion."

Organizational Psychology is the study of workplace behavior. Often, assessments (tests) are given to predict success at different tasks. However, it makes more sense (to me) to give these assessments to people who are not already performing the duties that the test is supposedly predicting. (Did that sentence make sense?)

Would-be managers at Darden restaurants take an assessment that measures their ability to compute mathematical concepts, among other things. For example, they might have to compare the cost of the individual items in a meal to another meal, and then take the time it takes the kitchen to complete into account. I don't know if current managers were required to take the test to keep their jobs.

Servers, on the other hand, are asked how many of their friends they made at work. At first blush, maybe Darden is looking for friendly, sociable people... but I doubt it. Actually, in my experience some of the worst people to work with and for were those who depended upon the workplace for their social life. Have I made friends at work? Certainly. I can also work with people who are not my friends. The manager who would give her waitress friends their way so that they would include her in social activities was a huge detriment to the restaurant.

I remember having a disagreement with a different manager one evening. I thought one thing, she thought another, and it was her call. She went with what she thought. This person has integrity and did what she thought was best -- I don't have to like it and I do have to accept it, which I did.

We were (and are) also friends. Toward the end of the shift as we were cleaning and closing, she was in tears. Literally, she was crying. She thought that because she made the decision she made (which may have resulted in a bad outcome for me) that I would no longer be her friend. My heart broke. The fact that she thought I would be so petty killed me. Of course, her friendship was important to me and of course, she was in charge. The two are separate.

The point is that it is hard for me to guess why Darden's personality test had so many questions for servers about their social relationships.

Many Darden employees who took this test have told me that many questions were repetitive. While this must have been annoying, it is no surprise. Lots of personality, IQ, and other subjective psychological tests deliberately ask redundant questions to see if the test taker will give the same answer. When test takers give inconsistent answers, the test is considered faulty. (When one test taker is inconsistent, it is that person. When many are inconsistent, it is the test.) 


  1. I think it's demeaning to begin with that anyone's being subjected to do these tests in the first place....

    1. Definitely the "brain-child" of marketing chimps... :)

  2. Here I am posting again, and again it was me, who posted about Kenaxa. The reason why I posted about this company is for many reasons and the reasons are not good or viable.

    Here is went "down" at Darden restaurants if you happened to be a server..........The manager (GM) takes you aside;;;;tells "YOU" have have to do this, ( test) and if you do not, you will "automatically" be disposed off and worse fired or demoted. They ( Darden Restaurants) gave us computer generated cards with our Name on them.

    Those cards directed us to a website called "proveit" but however the website address did not exist, you had to dig further to get to the website, that how I learned that Kenaka was involved ( spelling Kenexa) The web address on the cards that Darden gave us, were incorrect, I made many entrys to try and do what Darden wanted, but then there was a phone number you could call. I opted out of calling them knowing that I can figure out this on my own.

    They ( Darden Restaurants) actually gave the wrong ip address, and wrong information on the card to Direct you to Kenexa, so with a little work and math and entries I figured it out, and I told management about this and other employees.

    At this point, I do not know how some got on the website, but I did, and I read it, and shivered!

  3. I think the original address ( for the sake of computers) was www.proveit.com however this computer address was very incomplete. Any web addess with a.com means money and more money.

    So I dug more, since I typed in this entry, no less than 15 times, I did some digging. That's when I kept being redirected to Kenaxa. You as a person could not get on the website that Darden demanded you to do, it ended up like being ///htp:/proveit.co./Kenexa

    Darden Restaurants hired people because of Kenaxa, I actually called their New York office after this, and this is what I said " I might have reached the wrong number but you can go f*&^%$ Yourselves

  4. Curious, undercoverwaitress. Being that I spent most of my life in aviation and yes they give you personality testing and that is ok. But it is very very different than Kenexa testing. I always passed with flying colors, but it was more like a strengh type test. In other words, the outcome of any personality tests I have taken I was always told, I was assertive aggresive. Basically it was a letter type outcome and not a color outcome. The letters were like LLH, LhL, HHl, lhh and so forth, with that test I was always cabin manager, but not only that they welcomed a variety of personalities as it would make a good compliment and condusive to the safe operation of flight.

    Meaning too many Chiefs and not enough Indians would not work. In any situation regardless and I'm sure Kenexa knows this, the stronger ones always help the weaker ones, meaning as well, variety is truly the spice of life and one key aspect that Darden may not even realize at this point.

    But again this is about the good ole dollar, that most people in United States are really running short of. What's happening at Darden is a crucial turning point, it's almost against what our Founding Fathers of this country could thought it be.

    G.D forbid you should type anything on Facebook, hell no really? When so many young Men and Women who went overseas and died, came home in a bag, to fight for our free speech, It's Time to Wake up Darden, it's only been in the last few years that you have actually given the opportunity to Minoritys some advancement, and I speak from my heart. Yes, I'm white and female, but Darden again shame on you.

    Darden you actually exploit people, the poor damn dishwasher is Black, was he ever given any other opportunities? Did anyone approach the man and ask, is there something else you would like to do here? Of course not!

    With all your billions, I hope Kenexa was just a penny to pay. Darden has the audasity to put 3.00 coupons in the Sunday Paper and if the server looses it by accident, the server is charged for 3.00,

    Here is a suggestion that can beat Kenexa, go green, stop over fishing our seas, offer fresher tasty meals, stop contributing to obesity and put some damn sun cells on your ceilings to lower energy costs, if you did that in just ONE Restaurant, your electric bill will go from 35,000 dollars a month to maybe 35.00 dollars a month, you haven't thought of that yet. Hello, solar energy in your restaurants, think about that Darden!

  5. 2000 Restaurants with Darden, and not one equipped with Solar Energy, really? And they have to hire a Global Marketing Company to cut jobs, what a pity party. Again, Shame, Shame, Shame. If you do the math, and math plays a big point, I guarentee, when you cut your energy bill down by like 90 Percent, what a difference. You see they "Think" they can make up loses, with employees, and no it does not work that way, it will bite them in the Arse.

    What they need Darden Restaurants is serious energy change.


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