Friday 15 July 2016

Anyone Got A Nail?

 I have just finished my training to use the Hogan Psychometric tools (click here to see my previous musings about these). It was a fascinating couple of days, though I will need to do some further reading, discussion and reflection to get the full richness of the concepts, and also some practice in discussing them with clients, of course.

Part of the enjoyment came from the rich group who assembled for the course, which I organised (purely for my own convenience) and which was run at Lowther Castle - just over the valley from my house. We had a few independent coaches, some academics, an HR Assistant Director, a maths teacher - all good stimulating company.

There are three tools in the suite that we studied. The first is the Hogan Personality Inventory. This is known as the Bright Side, and looks at those strengths which others are likely to see in us when we are operating at our best. There are seven scales, and they map onto the Big Five psychological traits (the Five Factor Model). The Five Factor Model is the most widely-accepted personality trait model (though not above criticism, by a long way...) What the Hogan tool adds to the model is an emphasis on how others see you - your reputation. Behind the questionnaire sits a lot of research about how others perceive people who self-report in particular ways. I think that is particularly helpful in coaching conversations, especially with people who are quite self-aware, in terms of their internal self-image, but may not have such a clear understanding of how others read them, interpret them, and react to them.

 The Second of the tools is the Hogan Development Survey, popularly known as The Dark Side. This was the first of the tools I heard about, and anecdotally seems to be the one that people talk about the most. The 11 scales measure those strengths which may become career de-railers if over-used. Typically, that occurs when one's self-moderating habits are relaxed; so under pressure or stress, or (conversely) when very relaxed and at ease. This was also the first of the tools that I experienced on the receiving end, and I have blogged about the insight, and the impact, this tool previously (here and here). This is also the basis of the book Why CEOs fail (by Dotlich and Cairo), and we looked at some of the real-life case studies from the book on the workshop. It looks well worth a read. I think that all of us on the programme found this a particularly helpful tool, in terms of stimulating useful coaching conversations.

The third of the tools is the Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory. This is the tool that looks 'inside'  and looks at the core values, goals and interests that determine satisfaction and drive careers. I can see this being very helpful for people who are not sure why they are dissatisified with (apparently) successful careers, or who are considering a career change.

All of the tools struck me as useful. There are all of the usual caveats about validity, need for tentativity in discussing the reports with people, problematic language (some of the labels seem unhelpful) and so on. Nonetheless, I can see many situations in which these could be extremely helpful - and am already thinking of many individuals with whom to have that discussion.

And then, of course, I pause and reflect: here I am with a shiny new hammer: so the temptation is to see every problem as a nail... I will proceed with due diligence, and in discussion with my coaching supervisors (one of whom was on the programme, as was a member of my co-supervision group).  But if you are interested, don't hesitate to get in touch!


  1. Dear Andrew,

    I think these psychometrics are likely to be very helpful when working with Leadership Teams. I can think of a couple of occasions where the 'dark side' view of a person would have helped them understand their impact on others.

    In some cases my clients have been very surprised about how other people experience them, but it is too difficult for them to change. When this is discovered we can look for ways to productively protect the team and support the individual, where appropriate. I will call on you next time I am in a similar situation.

    1. I've certainly found them useful, both for myself and my clients. As you say, awareness is one thing (and valuable) but change is rather harder, sometimes. Nonetheless, awareness can lead to other strategies...