Psychopathology and HR professionals

Tata Strategic Management Group recently released a report on use of psychometric tests; it shows that use of psychometric tests will increase, also, while MBTI and FIRO B are popular, Hogan assessment is growing fast. To my surprise there was no mention of NEO PI 3 or 16 PF.

While I am certified in FIRO B and have no faith in MBTI (FYI yours truly is INTJ) it was Hogan that caught my interest. To understand any test, you should go through the manuals; I went through the manuals of Hogan assessment inventories. I found one of them quite interesting- Hogan Development Survey. It identifies 11 behaviours that can derail a person’s career (dark side as they call it).

The manual says it is derived from two sources- Work of Karen Horney and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by American Psychiatric Association.

Something about Karen Horney-Karen Horney was German psychoanalyst (student of Freud), whose focus was on anxiety. Anxious individual (esp. children who experienced bad parenting) had certain needs which she called as neurotic. All of us have these needs, but in case of neurotic dependence on one of them is too high, this results in a person either moving towards people ( to seek affection/approval), move against people or move away from people.


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV has eleven such Axis II disorders (in addition to mental retardation) ex. Anti-social, Paranoid, Avoidance, Naricissism etc.

psychiatrist cartoon[1]

Putting two together, 11 such behaviours were identified and Hogan Development survey was developed.

In hands of expert psychologist this can be a great tool, but I doubt whether HR professionals without any background of organisational behaviour or psychology can handle this, esp. non performing techies/line managers turned HR professionals.


I have a fundamental question – Should untrained HR professionals venture into area of psychopathology?

I fear that this tool in hands of half-baked HR professional will be a disaster- firstly he may identify wrong behaviour and then coach employee on dealing with wrongly identified behaviour!


Anyway, this theme appears in HBR article “Managing Yourself: Can You Handle Failure?” by Robert Hogan and in book “Why CEO’s Fail” by David Dotlich.


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