Can a Great Boss Lead to Burnout?

Posted by Ryan Daly on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Nobody likes a micromanaging boss. There are mountains of evidence that show micromanaging bosses are bad for employee engagement and office morale and productivity. In fact, when we asked 1,000 people to describe their worst boss, 48% said micromanaging.

But an interesting study published in the Academy of Management Journal argues that, although there is a definite downside to a micromanaging boss, having an overly trusting boss can be just as stressful. Study author Michael Baer, Ph.D. said laissez faire bosses often provide too much freedom without clear direction or performance expectations, which can lead to chronic stress and, eventually, employee burnout.

“It makes sense,” said Krista Pederson, a consultant on Hogan’s Global Alliances team. “The way most people react to an overbearing boss is to stop caring about their work, because they know nothing’s ever going to be good enough. With a boss on the opposite side of the spectrum, the stress comes from not knowing what they expect.”

“If you’ve got an overly trusting or hands-off boss, you need to set clear expectations and frequent status meetings to keep everyone on the same page,” said GA Consultant Rebecca Callahan. “Eliminating ambiguity is going to eliminate a lot of stress.”

Finally, said GA consultant Kristin Switzer, it’s important to distinguish burnout from longer term career satisfaction.

“Everyone gets burned out from time to time,” Switzer said. “That doesn’t mean they’re dissatisfied with their careers. Long term, you’re going to be a lot happier working for a laissez faire boss than an overbearing one.”

Stuck working for the latter? Check out executive coach Lolly Daskal’s advice for dealing with a micromanaging boss over at Fast Company.

Topics: good managers, managers

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Posted by Darin Nei on Thu, Jan 29, 2015


On my way to the Human Resources Professional Association conference in Toronto last week, I was reading the popular book, The Signal and the Noise, by statistician Nate Silver. If you are not familiar with this book or the author, Mr. Silver is interested in applying probability and statistics to understand predictions and decision making using real-world examples. I’m probably a little late to the party, but for a self-professed nerd like myself, the book is a fascinating read and something I would recommend to others.

As I was reading the book, there was a line that resonated with me – “Wherever there is human judgment there is the potential for bias.” As an Industrial/Organizational psychologist, I couldn’t help but connect this to the workplace. It was somewhere around 35,000 feet above Lake Erie that it dawned on me; the quality of the decisions we make is directly related to how well we perform our jobs. In fact, it is probably the biggest determinant of organizational performance. The most successful people and businesses are those that made the right decisions at the right time.

It doesn’t matter what job we are talking about or what level within an organization we are considering, the ability for people to make good decisions is directly related to their success. Bartenders have to decide when to stop serving a drunk patron. Engineers need to make decisions on where to reinforce and support structure of buildings. CEOs need to make decisions about the vision of the company for the future. It all comes down to decisions.

While it is true that all human judgment is subject to bias, we also know that humans are predictable. By understanding our own biases, we should be able to make better decisions, have better judgment. There are three core components that relate to decision making. The first is understanding how people process information. Some people are good at working with numbers, some are better at working with words. If we know how people process information, we can understand the knowledge base used to arrive at a decision. The second factor is understanding what biases our decisions. Some people are biased to maximize rewards whereas others are biased to minimize threat. Some prefer to think long term and others think in the here-and-now. The third factor is understanding how people respond after a decision is made. Some people tend to be more cool-headed and accepting of feedback, whereas others tend to be more defensive and will deny there are problems with the decisions they’ve made. Since decisions are always made with limitations and constraints, those with good judgment set themselves apart by being open to feedback and willing to incorporate in future decisions. In other words, they learn from their mistakes.

Mr. Silver is on to something when he says that many predictions (decisions) fail. In order to have a chance at making better decisions, improving our judgment, and having less of our predictions fail, we need an objective perspective of what influences our decisions and how we react to feedback about our decisions.

To learn more, check out


Topics: judgment

2015 Hogan Workshops

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Wed, Jan 28, 2015

Even the most advanced assessment tools won’t do any good if you don’t know how to use them. Facilitated by seasoned professionals and tailored to an audience of executive coaches, HR directors or generalists, organizational development or training professionals, and industrial-organizational psychologists, Hogan’s workshops give participants the information they need to effectively administer, interpret, and implement the Hogan assessments.

The two-day Hogan Certification Workshop gives participants a basic understanding of and certifies them to administer and interpret the Hogan Personality Inventory, Hogan Development Survey, and Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory.

  • February 17-18 in AtlantaHogan_Certified_Logo_150-1
  • March 18-19 in Minneapolis
  • April 15-16 in New York
  • May 19-20 in Atlanta
  • June 16-17 in New York
  • July 14-15 in Atlanta
  • August 25-26 in Atlanta
  • September 29-30 in New York
  • October 20-21 in Las Vegas
  • December 1-2 in Atlanta

The Hogan Advanced Interpretation Workshop gives participants a deeper understanding of how the Hogan inventories work together, and certifies them to provide feedback.

  • March 10-11 in Atlanta
  • September 15-16 in Atlanta

To register for a workshop, please visit Hogan Assessments.

Topics: certification, workshops

Coachable or Lost Cause?

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, Jan 27, 2015

In a perfect world, good coaching would lead to good results. Every great American football coach would lead his team to a national championship, and every great executive coach would turn out world-class leaders. In the real world, however, no matter how talented a coach may be, the result of any coaching effort depends in large part on the coached.

“My favorite example is athletics,” said Dr. Robert Hogan, founder of Hogan Assessments. ‘They say for every ten world-class athletes, defined in terms of their physical abilities, only about one makes it. The difference is that they're coachable. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you won't listen to coaching, you're just done.”

Here are four ways to tell if someone is coachable or a lost cause:

1. Can they keep their cool? When you confront them with bad news, do they keep their cool, or do they act excitable, explosive, defensive or paranoid?

“People who are cool-headed are much more able to take feedback on board,” said Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, vice president of research and innovation.

2. Do they accept responsibility? “Do they distort reality in their favor, or do they accept their mistake?” said Chamorro-Premuzic. “People who distort reality in their favor of course have the advantage that they may think of themself as smart. They don't assume any responsibility. People who are more accepting, they are more coachable because they would not just listen, but actually assume responsibility for what happens.”

3. Are they responsive to feedback Some people are responsive to feedback, while others either resist, deny wrongdoing, or pretend to comply while remaining privately resentful. Being responsive to feedback makes a person easy to coach. A person who resents negative feedback will most likely continue their bad habits no matter how many times they’re corrected.

4. Are they willing to change? You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Change is really hard, so if there’s not a willingness on the part of the coached, there is unlikely to be any real progress.

For more information about judgment and coachability, check out this video:

Topics: judgment

Journey to the East

Posted by Michael Sanger on Mon, Jan 26, 2015

Operating in the country that features the second largest economy in the world (and the first in terms of purchasing power) brings with it a higher level of business development and delivery expectations. It has been a pleasure to witness our Greater China distributor Mobley Group Pacific, Ltd (MGP) along with their local Taiwan partner Infelligent Coaching & Consulting consistently live up to these lofty goals.

This past week Dr. Hogan anIMG_2208d I traveled through Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei as we launched our Chinese versions of the Hogan Judgment assessment. We were honored to speak at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s premier E-MBA program, The Hong Kong Psychological Society’s Division of I/O Psychology, and to leading HR executives at National Taiwan University. Each time we encountered auditoriums jam-packed with engaged and enthusiastic leaders interested in learning how decision making biases and levels of feedback receptiveness relate directly to organizational performance. The size and sophistication of the audiences that received us is a testament to Ms. Nancy Zhang, President of MGP, and her team’s unmatched efforts in educating the market on the importance of making data-based talent management decisions.

While moderating a subject matter expert panel, Ms. Zhang elaborated on the beneficial discomfort that constructive criticism brings. “An executive’s willingness to engage the pain, accept what is going wrong, learn from his or her mistakes, and take action accordingly…that is the essence of good judgment,” she stated. Jim Hwang of Infelligent drove the point home when he added “If we listen to our own PR machines and yes-men instead of data, we’re doomed to reinforce potentially failing strategies.”

We couldn’t agree more. With over ten years of research behind it, Hogan’s Judgment assessment measures the learning approaches, decision making tendencies and reactions to feedback that are key to understanding the intellectual characteristics necessary for success. Now, thanks to members of our Research and Global Alliances Teams, we can confidently assess decision making styles throughout much of Asia with our locally adapted assessments. For those in the area who want to know more, be sure to look out for interviews with Dr. Hogan at the HR Excellence Center and in Business Weekly as well as related materials from

To add to the excitement we stopped by the offices of our longtime distributor Optimal Consulting Group, who covers South East Asia and who also has operations in China, helping capture the market. Optimal recently hit the milestone of certifying 1000 HR leaders and practitioners to interpret our core inventories, and we were pleased we could be there to congratulate them in person. With the insightful and business savvy former Dell executive Ms. Wan Leng Ho at Optimal’s helm, it’s no wonder Hogan Assessments are held in such high regard throughout the region.

It’s always great to see our partners across the world champion the value of predictive assessments with such commitment and passion. We’re especially proud to be working with these two key distributors, each of whom embody the spirit of our One Global Hogan network.

Way to go!

Topics: judgment, distributors

Being Smart Is Making You Stupid

Posted by Ryan Daly on Thu, Jan 22, 2015

Can you trust your own brain? Maybe, maybe not. Solve the following questions as quickly as you can:

  1. A book and a banana together cost $2.90. The book costs $2. How much does the banana cost?
  2. A magazine and a pack of gum cost $1.10. The magazine costs $1 more than the pack of gum. How much does the pack of gum cost?
  3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

Almost everyone will get the first question right (the banana costs $0.90). But when it comes to the second two questions, most people’s brains will take a subconscious shortcut that lands them at the wrong answer. The solution to the second question, for example, is $0.05 (the magazine costs $1.05, making it $1 more than the gum), but when researchers posed a similar question to a sample of Harvard students, arguably one of the brightest available sample groups, more than half got it wrong.

Here’s the kicker: the smarter you are, the more likely your brain is going to mess with you.

Researchers posed the third question to a group of 482 students and found that the smarter students were, as gauged by S.A.T. scores and the Need for Cognition Scale, which, according to an article detailing the study in The New Yorker, “measures the tendency for an individual to engage in and enjoy thinking”, the more likely they were to answer the question incorrectly, and the more susceptible they were to other cognitive biases.

Although researchers didn’t have an answer as to why this was the case, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Hogan’s vice president of research and innovation, said the answer lies not in our intelligence, but in our ability to multitask.

“We make hundreds of decisions and consume thousands of bits of information throughout each day, and our brains are overworked,” he said. “So, they create heuristics – biases and shortcuts – to save bandwidth. If you want to make a better decision, try adopting the 90-10 rule. Devote 10% of your time to 90% of the decisions. The more effectively you do this, the more mental resources you can devote to important matters.”

Editor’s note: The answer to question number three is 47 days. Most people instinctively divide the total days in half, giving an incorrect answer of 24 days.

Topics: judgment

We're Blinding You With Science

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Wed, Jan 21, 2015


Hogan was founded on the idea that good science could make the workplace better. Drs. Joyce and Robert Hogan spent four decades proving that personality predicts performance. Today, we’re still committed to that same spirit of innovation.

Our research division, comprised of doctorate- and master-level industrial-organizational psychologists, is the largest group of dedicated researchers in the industry. Each year, Hogan and our affiliates publish works that contribute to the field of personality and psychology, as well as contribute to the scientific discussion by supporting theses, dissertations, peer-reviewed journals, and professional conferences.

Download the full list of Hogan’s 2014 research publications here.

Topics: research, Hogan Research Division

What Do We Do?

Posted by Jocelyn Hays on Tue, Jan 20, 2015

As anyone in my field can probably relate, I spend a lot of my time with friends and relatives answering the question “So, what is it that you do?” It recently occurred to me that when people ask that question perhaps they don’t really want to know what I do. Rather, they’re asking what my job achieves. They want to know how what I do is valuable.

A similar lack of understanding may explain why many organizations are hesitant to adopt talent assessment broadly, despite clear evidence demonstrating the efficacy of using sound assessment tools. Organizations understand what assessments do – they measure characteristics related to job performance. However, many people may struggle to understand the value of that information in the broader organizational landscape.

Assessments help organizations identify talent
Whether you are evaluating external candidates for hire, identifying internal candidates for high-potential programs, or searching for undiscovered talent in the organization to strengthen your leader bench, assessments provide information that is difficult, if not impossible, to gather any other way.

Assessments help organizations prepare talent for future roles and responsibilities
This may include onboarding and determining potential career paths for new talent, exploring individual contributors’ aspirations for and predilections toward leadership positions as well as performance risks that are likely to emerge when they are placed in leader roles, or helping middle managers ready themselves for the responsibilities and challenges of more strategic leader roles.

Assessments help organizations develop leaders
Assessments provide a mechanism to help leaders build strategic self-awareness. By reflecting on their personalities, leaders are able to (1) identify their inherent strengths and plan to leverage them, (2) discover blind spots and stress-induced derailers that may impede their success, and (3) leverage their team member’s strengths and talents to complement their own.

Assessments help organizations build and maintain effective teams
The first step to understanding a team is to understand its individual members and how they interact and work with one another. Assessments can be used to build a diverse team whose members’ strengths complement one another. In addition, by providing insight into how individuals approach problems, make decisions, and execute work, assessments can be used to help team members relate to one another, plan for how to best work together, and predict and proactively address potential interpersonal conflicts.

I’m certainly not claiming that assessments represent a cure-all for the many talent management issues that organizations face. However, when used consistently and responsibly, assessments can yield a significant return on investment in terms of improving talent decisions and enhancing talent development initiatives.

What have assessments done in your organization? What benefits have you achieved and what challenges did you face when implementing and using talent assessments? Please comment to share your thoughts and experiences!  

Topics: assessment evaluation, assessment provider

Under Pressure

Posted by Ryan Daly on Fri, Jan 09, 2015


Easing back into work after the holidays is tough. From demanding bosses and pressing deadlines to mind-numbing monotony, the office is a stressful place. Reports show 60% of the global workforce is under the gun, with more than 80% of American workers reporting serious stress at work.

That stress causes our blood pressure to rise, and our immune response and sex drive to plummet. Forty percent of us overeat due to stress, and 20-30% of us bump up our bar tabs. On top of all of that, it could be ruining our careers.

Impression management, actively monitoring our behavior to influence how others see us, is an important skill in the workplace. Research shows that individuals who scored high on a measure of self-monitoring were more likely to get promoted and have a successful career than their less tactful counterparts. The more time we spend under pressure, however, the less able we are to manage our behavior. Eventually, we let down our guard and behave in ways that could damage our reputations and our careers.

I know, that’s a lot to take in. Before you freak out, I’m here to help. Below are four of the top relaxation techniques I’ve come to live by (after 10 minutes of browsing Google search results).

1. Breathe. In an interview with Intuit, author and serenity expert Kate Hanley said “When we get stressed, we tend to hold our breath in. This exercise gets any stale air out (as well as any tension that we may be holding on to) and encourages deep, energizing inhales to flow in effortlessly: Sit with both feet flat on the floor, and on the edge of your chair seat so your body is not pressed against the chair back. Inhale to a count of three then exhale to a count of six. Repeat five to 10 times.”

2. Stretch. recommends working yoga into your workday with six yoga poses that can be done from your chair, including neck rolls, a modified cat cow, seated forward bend, seated spinal twist, something called “eagle arms”, which sounds awesome, and rubbing your temples. Find the full routine here.

3. Ease up your caffeine intake. In an interview with Women’s Health Magazine, author Talane Miedaner said "Caffeine stimulates the adrenals, giving the illusion of accomplishment because you're rushing. Substitute your stop-and-regroup java hit for a protein snack (like nuts) to balance energy and moods when the pressure's on."

4. Listen to music. When you’re feeling overwhelmed at the office, it helps to have a power song. Mine is either “Holy Diver” by 1980s heavy metal demigod Ronnie James Dio and “Firework” by Katy Perry. Or, if you’re not the triumphant power song type, you can listen to this song, which was recently scientifically proven to be the most relaxing song ever written.

For more information about how stress affects your ability to manage people’s impressions of you, check out our complimentary ebook, 11 Ways to Wreck Your Career.

Topics: workplace stress, stress

Putting People Into the Big Data Equation

Posted by Reece Akhtar on Thu, Jan 08, 2015


Over the last few years we have witnessed the popular rise of Big Data. That is, organizations of all sizes and agendas are now looking to use large datasets to guide their strategies. Using data to grow and improve organizations makes complete sense as digital technology has permeated every corner of our society. The sheer size and quality of these new data sources has enabled us to build large statistical models that can predict and understand some of the greatest challenges facing mankind (i.e. climate change, the economy & democracy). Yet the question remains, what makes a good data analyst?

The ability to understand and manipulate Big Data in a way that can produce both meaningful and actionable insights for leaders is something that is not widely understood, nor discussed. It is well established what personality characteristics are predictive of success at work, but given the relative novelty of Big Data, do leaders know what skills and characteristics to look for when hiring a new data analyst, aside from technical knowledge and experience? Setting up data warehouses and systems is an expensive and costly process, therefore organizations must ensure that they are recruiting and developing the right talent. If the success of Big Data is equally dependent on technical and psychological factors, what then makes a good data analyst?

  1. They are motivated by Big Data: The psychologist John Holland found that our vocational interests are closely related to our personality and largely overlap with what motivates and drives us to seek out certain careers and strive for certain goals. Accordingly, there is evidence that demonstrates individuals who value logical and rational thinking are not only more likely to seek out jobs that encourage such a mentality, but are also more likely to succeed at them. In the context of Big Data, people with these values seek to answer questions using solid evidence and understanding. In essence they embody the Big Data ethos and uphold best scientific practice. This is crucial given that the technicalities of Big Data can easily produce false positives.
  1. They are curious: In light of the countless scientific papers describing the role of personality at work, its obvious that personality characteristics influence our behavior, and in turn, our success at work. Given this, the best data analysts are those who have a curious mind — they are always seeking out new information, viewing problems from different perspectives and questioning what is accepted knowledge. It is therefore no surprise that such individuals have higher levels of IQ and are more proficient with understanding mathematical problems. Given that one of the many selling points of Big Data is the identification of relationships across a variety of datasets and sources, ensuring your data analysts have this mindset will be a great strength as they will only be satisfied once their results are conclusive and accurate.
  1. They appreciate the devil in the details: Ask any programmer or analyst and they will tell you that modeling data requires absolute attention to detail, as simple mistakes can quickly turn into huge errors. Therefore, the best analysts are not only experienced; they are also prudent and judicious. In fact, evidence has demonstrated such psychological qualities to positively support the relationship between an individual’s Human Capital (i.e. education & experience) and job performance. Put plainly, the best analysts apply their knowledge carefully and pragmatically. Although this may produce a degree of rigidity, leaders are likely to find it a worthwhile trade-off when looking to build a team of reliable data-analysts.

It should now be evident that organizations looking to adopt Big Data into their operations and strategies need to take a minute to stop and think about what the job requires and whether they have the right talent. Unfortunately, the only stories you hear about Big Data are successful ones — you rarely hear about the large amount of resources invested into data warehousing that bring little to no value due to incompetent staff. The time has now come for leaders to stop thinking of Big Data as just a technical problem, and start to also view it as a people problem.

The key to any success is down to talent, personality and expertise, and that remains true for Big Data.

Topics: Big Data

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