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SIOP 2012 Session: Do Values Really Differ by Generation? A Multi-Assessment Review

Posted by Info Hogan on Fri, Mar 16, 2012

SIOPDrs. Kevin Meyer and Jeff Foster will participate in a group forum discussing one of the most popular topics in management training and development – managing workers from different generations. Results will be presented that represent a unique and comprehensive examination of generational differences in individual workplace values and interests to test the popular assumption that differences exist between generations. The session will be held Friday, April 27 at the 27thAnnual SIOP Conference in San Diego.

Topics: values, SIOP

How to Get From Point A to Point B - The Essentials of Good Execution

Posted by Info Hogan on Wed, Mar 14, 2012

Companies invest billions of dollars every year in pursuit of the next big idea. But what separates successful companies from competitors is execution – the ability to move from idea to implementation. Aaron Tracy, Hogan COO, discusses execution below.

What is execution?
Put simply, execution is the ability to get stuff done – the link between ideas and results. The best plans in the world are worthless if you can’t pull them off.

What are some important considerations for setting goals?
•    Start with a vision and a mission – goals are how you get there.
•    Goals must support realization of the vision and mission, this seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people get off track when they’re setting goals.
•    Engage your employees – engaged employees believe in the vision and mission as long as the goals make sense in terms of your company’s culture and values.
•    Goals should be realistic and achievable, and there should be some reward for getting them done.
•    Strategic plans need to reflect the real world (realities of the marketplace, competition and economy) and link to operational plans.
•    Pay attention to feasibility – is your goal realistic in the context of the organization's capabilities?

How do you create buy-in and excitement?
•    Select the right people, put them in the right job, and empower them to execute.
•    Foster an environment of engagement – keep employees apprised of your mission and vision, your goals, and how progress is coming along.
•    Preach the beauty and benefit of the end result.
•    Understand the importance of culture – if your company is committed to doing things the way they’ve always been done, execution is going to be difficult. 

Who do you put in charge?
There are a few questions you should ask when you’re choosing a leader:
•    Do they understand and support the vision?
•    Do they have integrity?
•    Do they have good judgment?
•    Do they have the competence required? Some people are more capable of getting things down than others – they should be the ones in position of authority.

How do you keep people on task?
•    Empower them to analyze, plan, and execute the goal so they own the delivery schedule – as opposed to barking down unrealistic timelines.
•    Understand the team’s values and reward their success throughout the process.
•    Establish clear lines of accountability.

How do you motivate project leaders and employees?
Any standard motivational tool will have short-lived, if any, effect if the team is not bought into the vision and mission and engaged in the project. Motivation is all about engagement, which is all about leadership.

What are typical roadblocks?
•    Dumb goals
•    Bad leadership
•    Flavor of the day influence in setting goals
•    Personal agendas interfering with organizational agendas
•    Accepting poor work or behavior

Do you reward failure? Is there good failure and bad failure?
Successful execution is the result of planning, preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. I’m not sure you reward failure, but you have to be willing to take risks and, therefore, have a tolerance for failure. If you don’t learn anything from failing, then failure is a bigger problem.

Topics: leadership, employee engagement, organizational culture

Meet the Worrier

Posted by Info Hogan on Wed, Mar 07, 2012

Meet the worrier. The one with the well-worn policy manual and the absurdly large bottle of hand sanitizer on her desk. She prefers structure, routine, and rules. Taking the road less traveled? Forget about it.

In the climb to the top of the ladder, the line between strength and weakness isn’t always clear. The same meticulous, careful nature that helped the worrier early in her career can turn into a crippling fear of failure when the worrier is stressed, bored, tired, or otherwise distracted.

Watch this video to see the worrier at work, or visit to view the entire HDS video series. Follow on Twitter @ImHiCautious #howdoyouderail

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Topics: Hogan Development Survey, HDS, HDS scales, Cautious

SIOP 2012 Session - Theory-Driven, Personality-Based Leadership Development

Posted by Info Hogan on Wed, Feb 29, 2012

SIOPDrs. Robert and Joyce Hogan will be joined by Robert Kaiser of Kaiser Leadership Solutions, Darren Overfield of Kaplan DeVries, Inc, Maret Kassner and Rene Kusch of Metaberatung GmbH, Michael Benson of Johnson & Johnson, and Peter Moser of Swissport International Ltd, to present 4 integrated presentations on the topic of theory-driven, personality-based leadership development.

This session will demonstrate how the socioanalytic theory of personality can inform the development of managers into better leaders. It features an overview of the theory, new research, application models, and a case study of a global project to develop airport managers.

The session will be held Thursday, April 26 at the 27th Annual SIOP Conference in San Diego.

Topics: personality, SIOP, Robert Hogan

Meet the Skeptic

Posted by Info Hogan on Thu, Feb 16, 2012

Meet the skeptic. You’ve probably seen him lurking around the office – the cynic, the conspiracy theorist, the one with the locked desk drawers and 26-character computer password. To him, everyone is suspect – his employees working to undermine him, his colleagues whispering behind his back, his boss is surely a member of some secret society.

In the climb to the top of the ladder, the line between strength and weakness isn’t always clear. The same shrewd business sense and understanding of company politics that help the skeptic early in his career can turn into paranoia when that person is stressed, bored, tired, or otherwise distracted.

Watch this video to see the skeptic at work, or visit to view the entire HDS video series. Follow on Twitter @imhiskeptical#howdoyouderail


Topics: HDS, HDS scales, Skeptical

The Science of Career Success

Posted by Info Hogan on Wed, Feb 15, 2012

TomasThe current class of college graduates is one of the most educated, technologically advanced, and technically skilled to ever enter the workforce. According to the New York Times, however, 22% are working in jobs that do not require a college degree, and 22.4% aren’t working at all.

Although the economy can be blamed for some of this problem, the widespread and persistent nature of under- and unemployment beg the question: What is keeping this otherwise talented young generation from succeeding in the workforce?

In a recent talk for the Cambridge Assessment Network, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic discussed the underlying psychology of employability and career success.

Watch the video

For more about employability, read our recently-released whitepaper: “Are You Employable?

Topics: employment, employability

Driving Engagement in the 80%

Posted by Info Hogan on Tue, Jan 31, 2012

80In a recent blog for the Harvard Business Review, Ambiga Dhiraj, Head of Talent Management for Chicago-based Mu Sigma, a decision science and analytics services firm, made an interesting observation about her company’s talent management process:

When it comes to employee development, most companies traditionally follow the 10/80/10 rule: The top 10 percent are promoted, the middle 80 percent are nurtured, and the bottom 10 percent are let go. At my company, we followed this advice at first too. But we found that we were losing too many from the middle 80 percent: people who had great potential were leaving because they weren't getting promoted quickly enough.

As any HR professional can tell you, Mu Sigma isn’t the only company that faces this struggle – in fact, a survey released last year showed that nearly 40% of employed adults were looking for a new job. That’s bad news for companies. According to Dr. Robert Hogan, when [engagement] is low, absenteeism, turnover, and theft go up, and productivity and customer satisfaction go down.

So how can companies address low engagement? Hogan said engagement is commonly defined in terms of four components: cognitive – the role is consistent with a person’s identity; emotional – the person likes the role; physical – the person will work at the role; and existential – the role provides personal meaning.

Dhiraj said her company changed the basic way it motivated its employees:

[Previously], our managers used promotions as carrots. Now they are challenged to motivate employees in other ways – by giving them interesting projects to work on, public praise for their work, and the right guidance and encouragement.

Fellow HBR blogger Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, approaches engagement on an even more basic level:

The single highest driver of engagement, according to a worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson, is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40 percent of workers felt so engaged.

Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It's also energizing. When our value feels at risk, as it so often does, that worry becomes preoccupying, which drains and diverts our energy from creating value.

Topics: Dr. Robert Hogan, HBR, engagement

In Times of Crisis, Be Careful Who You Follow

Posted by Info Hogan on Mon, Jan 23, 2012

LeadershipA group of young hikers, anxious to explore the treacherous mountain ranges of Alaska, interviewed a number of guides at a remote outpost. "Yep, I'm the best there is," bragged an older, very weathered looking man; "I know every mountain and valley in Alaska – been hiking them for over 50 years.“

Impressed with his obvious experience, the hikers chose the elderly gentleman to lead their expedition. Days into their journey, the group seemed to be wandering aimlessly, passing by landmarks they'd seen before. Cold, hungry, and very skeptical, the group questioned, "We've been hiking 6 days and we're lost – you said you were the best guide in Alaska."

"I am," snapped the old-timer, "but we're in Canada now!”

Moral of the story: be careful who you follow.

Following last week’s deadly capsize and chaotic evacuation of the ultramodern cruise ship Costa Concordia, maritime experts have been raising questions about the captain's behavior, crew preparedness and bungled evacuation procedures.

The preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Francesco Schettino, which resulted in grave consequences, including 15 deaths and as many as 17 missing persons to date.

In an article entitled “The Link between Personality and Human Error: Using Assessments To Hire Safety-Minded Employees,” Greg Ford (HRVoice.Org) observes the strong role of personality and safety:

What’s interesting is that up to 90% of incidents are due to human error, not faulty equipment or other factors. For the past fifty years, social scientists have been researching personality . . . there has been more and more research into how certain personality types are naturally more “safety-oriented” than others.

Hogan Research Division (HRD) has been researching predictors of safety-related behaviors for nearly 30 years across a variety of industries. In a seminal whitepaper, they conclude:

Our research shows that individual differences in personality predict both safety related behaviors (as indicated by supervisory ratings) and on-the-job accidents and injuries. This research stands in contrast to previous findings showing little to no relationships between individual personality measures and safety incidents.

Employees with an “at risk” personality can be identified by assessing them on the following six dimensions:

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mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Defiant vs. Compliant

Low scorers ignore authority and company rules.

High scorers willingly follow rules and guidelines.

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mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Panicky vs. Strong

Low scorers tend to panic under pressure and make mistakes.

High scorers are steady under pressure.

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mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Irritable vs. Cheerful

Low scorers lose their tempers and then make mistakes.

High scorers control their tempers.

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mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Distractible vs. Vigilant

Low scorers are easily distracted and then make mistakes.

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mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">High scorers stay focused on the task at hand.

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mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Reckless vs. Cautious

Low scorers tend to take unnecessary risks.

High scorers evaluate their options before making risky decisions.

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mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Arrogant vs. Trainable

Low scorers overestimate their competency and are hard to train.

High scorers listen to advice and like to learn.

“Everybody has a default personality. Some call it hard-wiring,” says Stephen Race, an assessment specialist with Performance Vector (HRVoice.Org). Race says, “We can teach people to behave in a certain way for short periods of time, but they will always revert back to who they are, especially when faced with unexpected circumstances.”

Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, who famously and safely ditched U.S. Airlines flight 1549 onto the Hudson River after crippling bird strikes, epitomized the expression of a safety conscious personality. Consistently described by all who know him as “cool, calm, and collected,” Sully credits his upbringing, family bonds, and a strong sense of personal integrity. He felt this led to him being hard-wired for safety.

Despite the remarkable fact that there is no training for such emergency landings, Sully described having a strong physiological reaction toward handling this unknown situation. His default personality was calm and focused, rather than panicky and overly reactive to this crucial situation, and as a result, all 155 passengers were able to rejoin their families and feel the embrace of their loved ones yet again.

The analysis of the cruise ship tragedy has just begun, and the role of Captain Schettino’s actions does not look good. He’s admitted that he messed up. Captain Sullenberger, in his book, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, offers a deeply inspiring message for all of us. Sully says, “We need to try to do the right thing every time, to perform at our best, because we never know what moment in our lives we’ll be judged on.”

Topics: personality, safety, Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, Sully, Sullenberger

Never mind your experts, I just need a cashier

Posted by Info Hogan on Fri, Jan 13, 2012

CustomerServiceRemember your last bad shopping experience? If you’re anything like me, even the thought of it makes your blood boil.

For instance: Last weekend, I made a trip to a major music retailer’s local storefront to buy a few odds and ends – some new guitar strings, picks, cords – mundane purchases, really. Yet, somehow, it turned into one of the worst shopping experiences of my life.

Queue the rant:
1. The store was a mess; nothing was organized, shelves were out of stock, there was literally garbage strewn about the floor, etc.
2. When I had a question, no fewer than three separate sales people told me that they were, and I quote, “Uh, not working today, bro.” Bull. First, my question was not a hard one. It would have taken him an equal amount of effort to give me the answer as it did to give me a dead stare through his lady-like bangs. Second, if you aren’t working, what the hell are you doing in the store? Go home. Or at least direct me toward someone who can help. Finally, please don’t call me bro. I’m not a friend or a peer. You, rude employee, should call me sir.
3. When I finally found what I was looking for, paid, and left, it had been an hour since I got there. An hour!

Marshall Fisher, a professor at the Wharton School, wrote about the consequences of such service in a recent blog post, “Retail Rage,” for the Harvard Business Review:

Losing immediate sales when customers can't accomplish their shopping missions because of the problems listed above is a huge issue for retailers. It makes customers unhappy, so they're more likely to go to a competitor the next time they need to buy something. And it's bad for employee morale, leading to a downward spiral of unhappy customers creating demoralized employees, making customers more unhappy still, and the beat goes on.

Fisher postulates that the root of the problem is a fundamental flaw in business logic:

I think the root cause is business-school thinking gone wrong. We teach our students to be rigorous and manage by the numbers. Not a bad idea, except that it leads to over-weighting the measurable and under-weighting what's hard to measure. In a store, what's measurable is the payroll checks a retailer writes every week to its stores' staffs. What's hard to measure is the impact that stores' staffs have on revenue.

This opens the door to self-delusion. Retailers can convince themselves that they can cut payroll by 5% in the last three weeks of a quarter to meet their profit promise to Wall Street and it really won't impact customer service, because there's probably people in the stores not doing anything anyway.

I agree that maniacal focus on metrics can be disastrous in terms of customer experience. Home Depot’s fall from grace in the mid 2000s is an excellent example of that phenomenon. But Fisher, like many companies, neglects the basic cause of poor customer service: crappy sales reps.

This particular retailer, for instance, is running an ad series touting its staff of musical equipment “experts.” But, as my colleague and fellow blogger Kristen Switzer points out in her post, “Happy Customers, Happy Employees, Happy Brand,” not all experts have personalities cut out for customer-facing positions, so a staff of experts translates, more often than not, into a nightmare of an in-store experience.

Instead of looking for employees that are an expert in any particular subject matter, perhaps more retailers would find success following the Nordstrom method of hiring Switzer describes in her blog. Nordstrom hires personable people that value working with others and fulfilling clients’ needs. Once hired, Nordstrom ensures employees feel valued, trusted, and respected.

Topics: employee engagement, bad customer service, Harvard Business Review

Can you see what I see?

Posted by Info Hogan on Wed, Dec 21, 2011

When people ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them that I am a business psychologist, it is not unusual for me to hear “Gosh, we could really do with a psychologist at work.” Colourful stories concerning people, events and relationships usually follow, almost always describing how someone (a colleague, a boss, a team even) is responsible for making working life impossible.

Since I love talking about work and relationships, I usually start asking questions regarding the issue at hand in order to understand what was communicated before, during and after difficult interactions and ineffective exchanges with others.

What often surprises me is not what is generally exchanged between the parties involved, but rather how much of this exchange is assumed and not communicated. The guy from finance assumes that we have read an important email because it was sent as urgent, a client assumes that we will meet that deadline because we have not said “no,” a colleague assumes that a remark made by a team member at the meeting was intended as hurtful, and a boss assumes that you must be happy with your current salary because you have not asked for a pay rise in years. Considering these examples, the consequences of assumptions at work are often disastrous. People don’t show up at meetings when expected, feelings are bruised, relationships damaged and projects not completed on time; when this happens, disappointment rules everywhere.

The dictionary defines assumption as “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.” I consider them as safety nets designed to shut down alarm bells that are triggered by uncertain and ambiguous circumstances. Very often, an assumption is just a guess in disguise.

Since assumptions are so risky, why do we rely on them so much?

First, not many people like to have their beliefs and views challenged. When we attempt to validate our assumptions, we are also exposing ourselves to some degree of vulnerability and the fact that our truth could be in fact a gross misinterpretation. It is easier to stick with what makes sense in our mind, rather than having our truth destroyed and feeling that invisible dent in our self-esteem.

Second, we all have deeply ingrained mental modes built inside ourselves, unique and systematic ways of interpreting the world around us that condense our thinking, feeling and perceiving into an overall subjective experience. We tend to believe that the world we experience is as it is, simply because we see it that way. Since our mental models are shaped by filters such as biology, language, culture, experiences, and of course personality, it is easy to see that there may be as many mental models as there are faces. To refer to a famous quote, it really does seem that “we don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.”

Assumption is also relevant to motivational drivers, i.e. the factors that drive and sustain the behaviour of people at work. We often assume that what motivates us will inevitably motivate others, and perhaps the most common assumption is that everyone is motivated by money. However, employees’ values and motivational drivers are often invisible and hard to detect – people just don’t go to work telling you what motivates them or disclosing what they value the most. It is therefore often assumed that simply because we work for the same organization, then we must clearly share the same values.

So, in a world filled with a great deal of ambiguity and characterised by individual experiences and interpretations, how can we try to gain a more comprehensive understanding of others and ourselves?

My advice is simple – instead of assuming, just ask; don't be afraid to communicate, enquire and validate further. Be also prepared to (actively) listen to what others have to say.

True, this will expose you, challenge your “truths” and won’t be a solution to all problems, but you may be surprised as to what you can learn from others.

Andrea Facchini, MSc.
Business Psychologist and Guest Blogger

Topics: values

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