Personality Assessment and Performance Management

A critical task for leaders is to ensure that their followers are working efficiently toward the organization’s goals. In business, employees whose work is aligned with the organization’s objectives are more productive. So-called “performance management processes” are intended to create alignment between the employee’s work and the organization’s goals. A typical performance management process might include planning and setting goals, monitoring progress toward those goals, development and improvement, and periodic performance appraisals (or reviews). These performance management processes could be substantially improved by the use of personality assessments.

Personality is related to every meaningful individual difference. Scientifically validated personality assessments can predict substance use and abuse, longevity, relationship satisfaction, job performance, criminality, and occupational choice, just to list a few examples. Beyond these applications, well-validated personality assessments provide individuals with insights into their own motives, reputations and destructive behaviors, many of which they may not be aware of. Employees can use such strategic self-awareness to modify their behaviors at work to be more in line with the expectations of management. Consider the following (real) example.

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Super Bowl LIII: A Lesson in Potential and Effective Leadership

In January of 2017, Les Snead, the general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, had a tough choice to make. Hired in 2013, his team had not had a winning record since 2003 and had moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles just a year earlier. Expectations in LA were high, and it was time for Snead to find a new head coach. The safe and easy choice would be a seasoned, veteran head coach who was no stranger to the biggest stage in American sports. Jon Gruden, who won a Super Bowl in 2003 (2002 season), seemed to be an obvious candidate. Or, you take a look at successful college coaches, such as Nick Saban, who has won six NCAA championships as head coach at the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University. Both of these coaches had proven records as head coaches and were realistic candidates to fill the Rams’ coaching vacancy.

Instead, Snead hired Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay, who also was a former assistant wide receivers coach under Gruden in 2008. At 30 years old, McVay was the youngest coach in NFL history. The results have been tremendous. In two seasons McVay has lead the Rams to a 26-9 record (including playoff games). On February 3, just nine days after his 33rd birthday, McVay will coach his team against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

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VIDEO: Bob Hogan on the Nature of Human Nature

According to Hogan Assessments founder Robert Hogan, life is about competition. There’s competition within groups to attain status, and those who win generally are those with good social skills. There’s also competition between groups, and the groups with the strongest leaders win in this arena.

Competition within groups is what fascinates and entertains people. However, competition between groups, such as the increasing rivalry between the United States and China, has real worldwide consequences.

In a new video, Robert Hogan takes on these topics and more, in “The Nature of Human Nature.”

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Humility: The Cure for a Know-It-All

No one likes a know-it-all.

They’ve annoyed us all by talking down to us about anything and everything, even when it’s obvious they know far less than they believe. But know-it-alls don’t just ruin watercooler gatherings and dinner parties. When they rise to positions of power, they can wear away at productivity and trigger costly mistakes.

Joann S. Lublin wrote an entertaining article on the subject in the Wall Street Journal. She interviewed a number of self-professed former know-it-alls that caused major problems for themselves and their companies, such as losing over $2 million on a home purchase, hiring an unsuitable job candidate, and not asking subordinates for their input.

The know-it-all causes all kinds of professional headaches. They don’t try to learn about an issue or ask for help, which leads to poor decisions. They ignore some people or are condescending to others, which leads to a toxic work environment. They project a false aura of power and knowledgeability, which gets them promoted into jobs they might not actually be able to perform.

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Election Day: What Are the Ideal Characteristics of a Successful Politician?

Political passions are running white-hot in the United States right now. Between Supreme Court nominations, immigration, racial issues, and health care, both sides of the political spectrum are fighting fiercely to win. It’s easy to believe we’re more divided than ever.

With so much at stake, you’d hope the most qualified candidates would rise to the top. Let’s just say that doesn’t always happen. Far too often, people will elect candidates with low qualifications, unworkable ideas, and downright questionable mental capabilities such as (insert the name of an elected official you personally don’t like here).

Since analyzing job fit is what we do, we started wondering what the ideal characteristics of a successful, generic, non-partisan politician would be. However, researchers have produced few studies examining work-specific personality aspects of U.S. politicians, and we didn’t want to just dictate our idea of the ideal politician. This is a democracy, after all.

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Does Personality Change? On the Stability of Personality Assessment Scores

Does personality change? This is a question we receive regularly from our clients, along with a lot of hypotheses about when and why scores shift. Answering this seemingly straightforward question actually requires addressing three related questions:

How often do scores on assessments change? When scores on assessments change, how large are those changes? Why do scores on assessments sometimes change? How often do scores on assessments change?

Personality assessments—like the ones we create at Hogan—measure patterns of behavior. Decades of research have demonstrated that personality assessments predict future behavior, including workplace performance. A major reason why personality assessments work so well at predicting future behavior is because personality is quite stable; that is, people do not change very much. For example, in one study elementary school teacher ratings of students’ personalities predicted how those students behaved as adults 40 years later! The best method for quantifying personality stability is the test-retest correlation: you take a test now and we see how well it predicts your scores on the same test in the future. The short term (14-21 day) test-retest correlations for the Hogan Personality Inventory scales range from .69-.87. The long term (8-year) test-retest correlations range from .30-.73. A meta-analysis of 3,217 (7-year) test-retest correlations ranged from .30-.70. The point here is this: personality test scores are highly stable. Thus, most of the time, a person retaking a personality assessment will get very similar results.

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A Quick and Dirty Guide to Validity & Reliability

Choosing the right assessment for selecting or developing employees can make or break the success of a talent initiative. Why bother using assessments that don’t predict performance, or that fail to resonate with your business leaders?

When deciding on the right assessment for your valuable talent, pay attention to the scientific rigor with which the instruments have been tested. Any good tool should have concrete data demonstrating its validity and reliability. Validity and reliability can tell you two general things: 1) that the assessment is measuring what you want it to, and 2) that it will reliably assess the same thing each time — ensuring that the results you get aren’t a one-off.

An easy way to think about this concept is with a bullseye metaphor: The very center of the bullseye is exactly what you want to assess.

Reliable but not valid means that you are consistently testing the same thing over and over again, but it’s not testing what you want to test.

Valid but not reliable means that the average scores align with the goals of the test, but individual scores are inconsistent.

Both reliable and valid means that the test will consistently measure what it is supposed to over a period of time - it’s consistently hitting the bullseye.

What is Validity?

Validity refers to the accuracy of the assessment. In essence, does it measure what it is supposed to measure? While there are several types of validity to pay attention to, the most important for our purposes is predictive validity.

Predictive validity tells us how accurate a tool is at predicting a certain outcome. In the case of personality assessments, a good tool will be able to predict how well someone will perform their job. Validity is typically measured with a coefficient between -1 and 1 (called the Pearson correlation coefficient). The closer to one, the higher the predictive power of the test. The predictive validity of the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) is .29 for predicting performance across job families. However, when the HPI is combined with the Hogan Development Survey (HDS) and Motives, Values, and Preferences Inventory (MVPI), that number jumps to .54. While this may not seem very high, a good comparison is to look at the validity for something completely unrelated.

For example, the predictive validity of ibuprofen for pain reduction is only .14. For another, more closely-related example, the correlation between structured job interviews and job performance is .18. There are many ways of measuring validity, some more useful than others. Any assessment provider worth their salt should be able to provide you with evidence of validity. If they don’t, it’s worth considering why not.

What is Reliability?

Reliability, on the other hand, refers to the consistency of the test. The reliability of an assessment can be evaluated in two broad ways: 1) internal consistency and 2) test-retest reliability.

Test-retest reliability is a measure of consistency of responses over time. In other words, are people responding to questions the same way each time they take the test? Inconsistent responses can indicate that assessments results are not actually measuring personality, which should be relatively stable over time. Test-retest reliability uses a correlation of scores (again, using the Pearson coefficient) from a first assessment and a second assessment sometime later. For Hogan, the short-term test-retest reliability is .81 for the HPI, .70 for the HDS, and .79 for the MVPI.

Internal consistency relates to the questions that are used in each assessment. Test takers will notice that many questions appear to measure the same thing. This is on purpose. Asking a question in a few different ways helps us to ensure that we are getting an accurate measurement of the concept. Internal consistency scores are measured between 0 and 1 (this time with a coefficient called Cronbach’s alpha).i The closer to one, the higher the internal consistency reliability. The average internal consistency for the HPI scales is .76, .71 for the HDS, and .76 for the MVPI.

The important thing to note is that there is no one right way to measure reliability or validity. In fact, assessment publishers should constantly be monitoring their products to ensure they are as effective as they claim. Hogan Assessments are far above industry standards with continual evaluation of our own assessments. We are partial though, and we encourage you to seek out this information with any assessment system you choose.

Hogan Assessments have appeared in over 400 peer-reviewed publications to ensure that our tests are hitting the bullseye. We invite you to contact us for more information on the validity and reliability of Hogan Assessments at info@hoganassessments.com or +1 918 749 0632.

Note

i. Absolute value. Scores between -1 and 0 indicate a negative correlation.

Rethinking Self-Awareness: Freud versus Socrates

Most people who are interested in helping others to improve their careers would agree that individual differences in self-awareness impact career outcomes. This talk builds on that agreement by analyzing three topics: (1) How to define self-awareness? (2) Does self-awareness matter? And (3) How to increase self-awareness? Read More »

5 Ways to Manage Creativity and Drive Innovation

In a society that craves novelty and new technology, staying on the cutting edge is paramount to an organization’s survival. What better way to stay one step ahead in the product line than to have a strong creative team tinkering away behind the scenes. Read More »