To skeptics who doubt the relevance -- even the existence -- of personality, psychologist Robert Hogan says: "Believe, or suffer the consequences. Personality is real, and it determines the careers of individuals and the fate of organizations."
Hogan, who specializes in the use of personality assessments to help companies select and develop employees, is the author of "Personality and the Fate of Organizations," (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates). He links personality characteristics to people's behavior, including success and failure in the workplace.
"Leadership and managerial performance are a direct function of a person's personality, and, in turn, they directly influence the effectiveness of organizations," says Hogan, who was a psychology professor for 30 years at The University of Tulsa and at Johns Hopkins University. He estimates that two out of every three managers alienate their staff, and says stories in the media attest to the fact that bad management is rampant in the corporate world.
Hogan's tests include the Hogan Personality Inventory, which predicts how individuals will perform in a job on a day-to-day basis, and the Hogan Development Survey, which assesses 11 patterns of behavior that can derail a manager's career. The tests are offered through his company, Hogan Assessment Systems, based in Tulsa, Okla.
More than one million adults have completed the Hogan Personality Inventory for pre-employment screening purposes, and Hogan says 25 years of data show that the inventories predict job performance.
In his book he shows how personality can be used to understand organizations, to staff teams, and to evaluate, select and train people. But Hogan says his writing is non-technical and the book should interest anyone who is curious about people, careers and organizational politics.
"My goal is to increase the reader's ability to understand other people: how they are alike, how they are different, and why they do what they do," says Hogan. "The reader can then pursue his or her personal social and organizational goals more efficiently."
Personality psychology virtually disappeared in the 1970s, he says, but interest resurged since 1990 as businesses found that information on personality could be used to select future leaders or improve the performance of current incumbents.