Hogan case study: The case of the colorful leadership team

Posted by Dave Winsborough on Tue, Nov 29, 2016

When the GeneBank (fictional company) board of directors demanded its new CEO double the global supplier of dairy and beef genetics’ revenue to $1 billion, the first thing he did was develop a new executive team.

This was a dramatic shift, and required new skills in acquisition, global marketing, data science, and logistics. The team would also have to lead a deeply skeptical, science-based organization into a future with much higher expectations.

The new team was goal driven, competitive, and ambitious. The organization felt as if it had received a huge shot of energy. Targets were increased, standards were raised, and individuals held accountable (and non-performers exited). The team was exciting to be around and made strong efforts to connect with each other and the wider organization

At the same time, three other behaviors emerged that caused frustration and resentment. Although driven and focused, the team didn't listen well to the rest of the organization, spending its time in broadcast mode. Secondly, goals stacked on goals as they emerged from the long, tough meetings of the top team, and little attention paid to sequencing or resourcing. Finally, the team was distractible, and the strategy began to accumulate pet projects.

This case study is a perfect example of a team with strong shared derailers. Derailers, or dark-side personality characteristics, are traits that under normal circumstances could be considered strengths—being ambitious, competitive, or outgoing, for example. Under increased stress or pressure, however, those same qualities can turn into behaviors that strain relationships and cause interpersonal rifts that can hinder team performance.

If too many members of the team share the same derailers, they can become team derailers. In this case, the executive team had a distinctive, shared dark side risk of being colorful - the tendency to be dramatic, attention-seeking, and easily bored.

Understanding the team’s shared derailers will help you understand how conflict is likely to play out, and help you guard against team-killing behaviors. To learn more about managing shared derailers and how personality affects team performance, download our ebook, The Secret to Successful Teams: Conflict.

Topics: teams

Why do companies still struggle with self-directed work teams in 2016?

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Oct 27, 2016

For those unfamiliar with the concept of self-directed work teams, it’s a shift away from a typical top-down organizational structure, where one or a group of leaders set strategic direction and comes up with solutions to problems, then delegate tasks. In lieu of a traditional organizational structure, many companies are flattening their hierarchies and decentralizing power, making every employee a “stakeholder” with ownership in the company and the ability to work whenever and however he or she sees fit. These companies rely on small, self-managing teams tasked with solving specific problems.

Although SDWTs have been around for decades, they’ve been made famous in recent years by companies like Valve, the software and gaming company that produced the landmark “Half Life” series of first-person shooter games, and Zappos, which lost 14% of its workforce to a voluntary buyout during the final phases of its transformation to full-blown self-management last year.

And it’s not only cutting-edge companies who are ditching traditional hierarchies in favor of a team-based structure. Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends Report 2016”, which reports the findings from a survey of more than 7,000 business leaders in 130 countries, showed more than 80% of respondents were either currently restructuring their organization or had recently completed the process to place more emphasis on teams. SDWTs have become so en vogue that even some of the most staunchly conservative organizations are getting in on the trend—The Cleveland Clinic recently reorganized its medical staff into teams focused on particular treatment areas, and General Stanley McChrystal described in his book Team of Teams how the army’s hierarchy hindered operations early in Iraq.

But as many organizations are finding out, the promise of SDWTs is often met with crushing disappointment and organizational turmoil as teams succumb to apathy, indecision, infighting, or any number of other dysfunctions and organizational goals go unmet.

“I have no question that when you have a team, the possibility exists that it will generate magic, producing something extraordinary, a collective creation of previously unimagined quality or beauty,” the late J. Richard Hackman said in an interview with the Harvard Business Review. “But don’t count on it. Research consistently shows that teams underperform, despite all the extra resources they have.”

Why do SDWTs so rarely live up to their promise? One of the answers is in the way teams are organized.

Functional versus psychological roles

People have two roles within a team: functional and psychological. Functional roles are determined by a person’s position, title, or hard skills. If I were assembling a team to launch a new web app, for instance, it would make sense to have members who were skilled in design, web development, and user experience, as well as a manager whose job it was to make decisions, set priorities, delegate tasks, and report progress up the chain.

Psychological roles are informal roles which people naturally gravitate to based on their personalities. When individuals are formed into a team and given a task, there are five psychological roles to which people naturally gravitate: results, relationships, process, innovation, and pragmatism.

  • Results is the natural leader of the group whose function is to communicate the team’s vision, organize work, evaluate outcomes and hold team members accountable for their contributions.
  • Relationships is more concerned with maintaining concord and cooperation within the team.
  • Innovation is critical for coming up with out-of-the-box, creative solutions to problems.
  • Pragmatism is practical and can be argumentative. He or she promotes realistic approaches to problems.
  • Process is concerned with implementation, and tends to be reliable and organized, and careful to follow rules.

A team with the right balance of people in results, relationships, innovation, process, and pragmatism roles will ensure diversity of viewpoints and work well together.

Organizations like Zappos and Valve are able to create high-performing teams because they allow employees to move fluidly between teams until they find one for which both their functional roles and psychological roles are a natural fit. The problem most traditional organizations is management organizes SDWTs based on members’ functional roles, which means the team’s psychological roles are typically out of balance.

This insight leaves large organizations wishing to implement SDWTs with two options: (1) allow employees to spend time moving from project to project until they find a team on which they naturally fit, or (2) use a tool like the Hogan Team Report to identify gaps and and balance teams’ psychological roles.

To learn more about how balancing psychological roles can help boost team performance, check out our latest ebook, The Secret to Successful Teams: Conflict.

Topics: teams, teamwork

Hogan X and Know Your Crew Form Partnership to Revolutionize Team Building

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Aug 11, 2016

We’re excited to announce that Hogan X has formed a strategic partnership with NYC-based Know Your Crew, a tech company using analytics and psychology to optimize and strengthen team relationships. The new partnership aims to advance and revolutionize team building.

As technology continues to evolve and reshape industries across the globe, team building has remained largely unaffected by these technological advances. This prompted the development of Know Your Crew, a platform that integrates team building seamlessly into the workday and measures team dynamics. In combining Know Your Crew’s platform with Hogan’s decades of research and team analytics, both organizations can maximize their strengths to improve the global workforce.

“With so many changes in the workplace and the growing importance of collaboration and remote working, it became clear to us that new tools were necessary to enhance team performance,” says Alison Bloom-Feshbach, Know Your Crew co-founder and CEO. “Current development tools tend to focus on the individual, but the majority of work is the product of a coordinated team.”

Dave Winsborough, who is the head of Hogan X, views this as an opportunity to improve global leadership.

“While we recognize the importance of individual effort, we have long advocated that the hallmark of good leadership is building and sustaining a winning team,” says Winsborough. “The innovative, scalable team-building platform Know Your Crew has built allows leaders to measure their team’s performance while also making it fun.”

With new product offerings expected later this year, the focus of both organizations is centered on the future of team building and leadership performance.

“The world of work is changing rapidly to deal with the faster pace of innovation and increasing globalization,” says Winsborough. “Nearly all worthwhile achievements in human history were the result of a team, which is why smart firms in today’s society are increasingly turning to teams to get business done.”

Topics: teams, teambuilding, teamwork, hogan X

Drinks with Hogan: Leadership in a Team Environment

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, May 24, 2016

If leadership is defined as the ability to build and maintain a high performing team, how does a leader effectively engage his or her team? Rebecca Callahan, Manager of Hogan Labs, and Amber Smittick, Corporate Solutions Consultant, discuss the tools and tactics to successful leadership in a team environment in this edition of Drinks with Hogan.


Topics: leadership, teams, Drinks with Hogan

Mythbusters Series: Emergence is not Effectiveness

Posted by Michael Sanger on Mon, Mar 16, 2015

hogan-mythbustersWe have some important advice for all the politicking, rising stars out there: before you dub yourself the organization’s next great scion, you’ll need to make sure you have the skillsets necessary to build and guide a high performing team. There are numerous reasons an individual may be nominated to represent a key part of the succession plan, but more often than not it’s because the employee is socially skilled, confident and interested in influencing. But just because one is generally rewarding to interact with doesn’t mean special resources should be dedicated to his or her advancement. Our point is this: When it comes to leadership positions, emergence does not necessarily equal effectiveness. This edition of our series debunks the myth that those identified as high potentials usually have the requisites for success at the higher levels. This is the story of the High-Pos, the Low-Pos, the Faux-Pos, and the So-sos.

At Hogan we define high potential as the ability to build and lead teams that can outperform the competition. Depending on the organizational strategy, the definition of performance can vary, and the criteria used to measure performance should be aligned accordingly. But these data should also be independent of the organization’s internal talent management systems. Examples include customer evaluations of performance, business unit revenue, accident reduction, and units produced. I say this because internal performance appraisals have shown to be problematic in identifying effectiveness due to questionable accuracy of raters and the politics embedded in the process. At its very core, the issues with an internal appraisal system stem from likeability factors that lead individuals to receive high or low ratings across the board. In other words, if a manager likes your personality, he or she will likely praise your other competencies (e.g. that age old favorite “Leadership”) as well.

But because so many organizations rely on performance rating forms and interviews with key stakeholders to identify their high potential employees, your Faux-Pos (those who talk a good game and know how to use their social faculties for advancement, but are unwilling to learn and/or put personal career aspirations ahead of team or company needs) are often mixed in with your Hi-Pos. Such lack of distinction can lead to detrimental results. In parallel, the So-Sos (those who work hard, are willing to learn, and believe in the company vision, but still need development around commonly noticed leadership skills) get grouped in with the Lo-Pos and are often left behind, leaving unknown opportunity costs. Research conducted by Luthans as well as by Lord, Vader & Alliger examine these concepts in further depth.

It may feel like after reading this, your nominations of the past have been nothing short of playing “Marco Polo” in your high potential pool. But this does not have to be the case. Matching personality profiles of previous high potential cohorts with data on long-term subsequent business performance can at least tease out general differences between the Hi Pos and Faux Pos of years past. With such information, and some additional organizational study, we may be able to then identify those potential-diamonds in the rough and responsibly widen the cache of future organizational leaders.


Topics: teams, high potential employees, mythbusters

Dysfunctional Team? It's Your Fault

Posted by Ryan Daly on Thu, Sep 18, 2014

High-performing teams can provide an undeniable advantage over the competition. However, most managers will tell you that although it is easy to put together a team with great potential, they rarely perform at their maximum capacity. Why? Because you’re doing it wrong.

Most managers put their resources into finding the right mix of functional roles in a team – roles dictated by people’s titles and reflect their hard skills (accountant, designer, engineer, etc.). However, they often neglect to balance the team’s psychological roles. Psychological roles are dictated by people’s personalities. There are five psychological roles to which people naturally gravitate: results, relationships, process, innovation, and pragmatism.

  1. Results - Individuals who gravitate toward the results role take responsibility for managing the team. They are comfortable taking charge, and are needed to communicate ideas, work processes, individual contributions, progress, and problems to the team.
  1. Relationships – Team members in the relationships role tend to be concerned with harmony and cooperation. They may also be the champion of the customer and stakeholders – someone who empathizes and understands how those outside the team will see things. Personally, they tend to be upbeat, gregarious, and outgoing.
  1. Process – Individuals who naturally focus on process are concerned with implementation, the details of execution, and the use of systems to complete tasks. They are reliable, organized, and conscientious about following rules and protocol.
  1. Innovation – Team members who gravitate toward the innovation role anticipate problems, and recognize when the team needs to adapt. They spot trends and patterns quickly, enjoy solving problems, and generate creative solutions.
  1. Pragmatism – Team members who are drawn to the pragmatism role are practical, somewhat hard-headed challengers of ideas and theories. They promote realistic approaches and aren’t easily swayed by the need to preserve harmony or innovation for its own sake.

To find out more about how to find the right balance of personalities for your team, check out our complimentary eBook, Dysfunctional Team? It's Your Fault.

Topics: teams

5 Ways Teams Fail

Posted by Ryan Daly on Tue, Sep 02, 2014

An unbalanced team can be an operational nightmare – projects stall, ideas dry up, and morale plummets. Fortunately, unbalanced teams manifest themselves in five predictable ways, each of which can be fixed by bringing in people to fill gaps, or reassigning people where too many individuals are trying to fill a role.

  1. Nobody, or everybody, seems to be in charge

Teams need one or two individuals who naturally assume a managerial role to organize work, clarify roles, distribute tasks, and evaluate outcomes. Without someone to take charge, teams tend to drift away from their goals. Too many of these team members, however, can result in infighting.

  1. Nobody gets along

No matter how strong the individual members of your team, if they won’t work together, it does little good. Relationships-oriented team members are important for building cohesion within the group.

  1. They aren’t producing any big ideas

Large companies have trouble innovating – they tend to be risk averse, set in their ways, and hindered by bureaucracy and internal politics. Companies rely on small, nimble teams to drive promising ideas from conception to market, and teams rely on innovative individuals to produce those ideas.

  1. Their ideas never get anywhere

A team’s big ideas don’t serve anyone if they never make it to market. To stay productive, organized, and on schedule, teams rely on people who naturally focus on process.

  1. Nobody plays the Devil’s advocate

Every team needs a good pragmatist – a practical, somewhat hardheaded challenger of ideas and theories. They promote realistic approaches and aren’t easily swayed by the need to preserve harmony or innovation for its own sake.

Achieving the right mix of skills, experience, and personality is the key to creating a productive team. To find out more about how to find the right balance of people on your team, check out our complimentary eBook, Dysfunctional Team? It’s Your Fault.


Topics: teams

Does My Team Have My Back? Yes, Indeed.

Posted by Heather Bolen on Mon, May 12, 2014

In preparation for my upcoming maternity leave, I have been thinking a lot about the benefits of working as a part of a high functioning team. The stress and uncertainty of stepping away from my job and leaving my duties in the hands of others has the potential to bring out my derailers in full force….Hello, Bold and Diligent. However, working in a high-functioning, team-based environment has assuaged my dark side and I am feeling pretty good about shutting down for a bit. So what is so great about my team?

First, we are very aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses; we are open and honest about our Hogan scores. While this often presents opportunities to joke around with one another when, for instance, someone’s Skeptical or Bold side makes an appearance, it also presents an opportunity to understand where each team member is coming from, where and why they might need some extra support, and what is driving their behavior. Second, we are focused on collaboratively achieving common goals; we succeed or we fail. Working in an environment where collective responsibility is an everyday reality allows this new mom (with a tendency to be a bit of a control freak) to have confidence in, and feel assured, that my team has my back.

For more information about teams, download our complimentary ebook, The Truth About Teams, which breaks from traditional team building models to help leaders balance team members’ personalities, identify shared values, and avoid shared performance risks.

Topics: teams

Q&A: Personality and Teams

Posted by Hogan News on Wed, May 01, 2013

QAManagers intuitively understand that achieving the right mix of skills, experience, and personality is key to ensuring a productive team and content workforce. Get that mix wrong – even by just one individual – and the result can be ruinous. Ryan Ross, Hogan vice president of Global Alliances, discusses personality and teams.

Q. How does personality affect team performance?
A. A team is made up of individuals, and personality can be the mortar that holds the team together or the chisel that tears it apart. The makeup of the team, the demands, and what is needed to be successful is dependent on the individuals. They have to be able to work together, and they have to be engaged with each other.

Q. What characteristics do high-performing teams share?
A. First, high-performing teams are self-aware of their collective strengths and their development needs as a team. They know where their blind spots are, and they’re willing to seek outside influence to help compensate. Second, they are focused on a mission. Individually, they have clear objectives to contribute to the team, and there’s also a desire to keep score. They want to know, “Are we winning as a team? If not, what are we going to do to fix that?” It creates a sense of accountability.

Q. What are the functional and psychological team roles?
A. Functional roles in a team are simply based on title, level in an organization, or past experience. It’s the old military example of just because they have stripes on their arms or stars on their lapel you have to call them a leader. Psychological roles are who we become in the team. Are we an antagonist or a creator? Are we focused on details and implementation or are we dedicated to team collaboration? Are we focused on results, relationships, pragmatics, process, or innovation?

Q. In terms of composition, what do teams need?
A. Teams need someone paying attention to the vision and goals, and they need someone paying attention – strategically – to how they’re going to get there. Teams need individuals who are driving the work and actually getting work done versus just talking about it. They also need someone who is paying attention to details, as well as someone to keep harmony and collaboration going in the team. If you think about societal roles, it’s basically the same thing. You need a mayor, you need a city council, and you need employees.

Q. Can too much dissimilarity in a team be problematic?
A. You bet it can. Too many dissimilar values can be problematic. You’re going to find that people gravitate towards each other in a team. Teams need to identify and understand their collective strengths and shortcomings. If you have a team that is on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to Adjustment (the HPI scale related to confidence and self-esteem) – meaning that half the team is rock-solid and nothing bothers them, and the other half of the team freaks out when the room is too warm – then those two groups are always going to be at odds. They have to recognize that shortcoming and meet somewhere in the middle. Values are a key challenge when you have dissimilarity in a team. We find that there are two or three common core values in a team and that the rest are free to vary, which is what gives you the uniqueness of individuals.

Q. How do shared group values impact team performance?
A. They help build cohesion. People who value the same things tend to be interested in performing work in similar ways. They focus on certain goals and share a common language, even though they may be new acquaintances. If I know you value winning, competing, and the way things look and feel, we could already have a relationship even if we just met. Shared values are especially important today because organizations are doing so much more virtual teamwork. Oftentimes, we don’t have an opportunity to sit down and have conversations anymore, but because we talk the same way or have the same values, those relationships are easier to make.

Q. What can shared derailers mean to a team?
A. Blind spots. Shared derailers create a culture of derailment where a certain derailer is seen as just the way we are. For example, say a retailer has a management team with very high scores on Bold (the HDS scale related to self-confidence and arrogance) and Mischievous (the HDS scale related to risk-taking and limit-testing); that would breed a culture where if you couldn’t stand up, take punches and push the envelope, then you wouldn’t fit in. It leads to the acceptance of things that cause the every day employee to suffer.

Q. How do we keep team members engaged?
A. Getting and keeping team members engaged starts with leadership. The definition of leadership is being able to build and sustain high-performing teams. The only way to do that is with individuals that are engaged. How do you get engagement? Through good leadership. How do you identify good leaders? By looking at their personality. It’s a building block – teams that are engaged will take action more quickly, and they’re more defensive when it comes to outside challenges because they want to protect each other. The functional head of the team must drive the engagement, or things get out of sync. It’s helping the leader understand how to drive and motivate a team by knowing who the players are, what they value, and how that fits with the mission they’re being asked to accomplish.

Follow Ryan Ross on Twitter @RRossHogan

Topics: leadership, teams, teambuilding

Ray Lewis Leads

Posted by Kristin Switzer on Wed, Feb 06, 2013

FootballThree days after the Super Bowl XLVII dust has settled, the Twittersphere is still buzzing with predictable comments, including Beyonce’s wardrobe choice, the funniest commercials, and what caused the 30-minute blackout. Not surprisingly, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was not excluded from popular trending topics. As many are aware, Lewis ended his NFL career on Sunday with his second Super Bowl win, a bittersweet day for Baltimore Ravens fans. While most of the attention around Lewis after the win on Sunday was positive, historically, Lewis’ reputation with the media has been quite controversial. (A quick Google search will give you all the grizzly details). Despite Lewis’ rocky past and the public’s love/hate relationship with him, his influence and impact on his team are indisputable. As another football great retires, there are a couple of key observations to glean from Lewis’ career as a leader.

The performance of his team

The qualities of an effective leader have long been debated and are still not well-defined. Dr. Hogan will tell you that the best determinant for measuring a leader’s success is by the performance of his/her team. Applying this principle to Ray Lewis, his success as a leader is clear. In a recent Yahoo! Sports article, former teammate Tony Pashos was quoted as saying “…you know what happens when Ray Lewis is in the locker room, and on the field? Guess what, you just maximized your entire salary cap, because everyone around him is playing at the highest level he can play. When I hear about the great ones like [Boston Celtics legend] Bill Russell, they say that he made everyone around him better. That’s Ray.”

His impact beyond raw talent

As many sports writers attest, Lewis did not earn his champion status based solely on his athletic talent. Although he has many accolades of which to be proud, including being selected in 13 Pro Bowls, receiving the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award twice, and two Super Bowl rings, his legacy will be known for much more. Sports writer Michael Silver states: “Because he ascended to the top of his profession on the strength of intangibles — work ethic, attention to detail, relentless passion, indefatigable drive — Lewis' locker-room cred is tremendous. I exist in a world in which players routinely take private jabs at one another, especially those whose outsized personalities cause them to become public caricatures. Yet I've never covered an athlete more revered by teammates and opponents than Lewis, who habitually exceeds the lofty expectations of the newcomers that enter the Baltimore locker room.”

Although there may be other determining factors that lead one to such legacy status, these aspirations should be weighted heavily when considering how to make the greatest leadership impact. By focusing on such objectives, current leaders may realize some of the same notoriety upon retirement, just like the football legend himself.


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Topics: leadership, teams, team-building

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