I apologise for the poor quality, but you only need to bear with it for a minute to reach the punchline.
I often feel like this when I consider the HR Function (in Financial Services) over the last 20 years. That somewhere in the race for a seat at the big table, we sold our collective soul. That, in trying to show how much we could contribute to "the business", we sold the staff down the river. That, much like bankers and god knows who else, somewhere along the way, we sacrificed our integrity. Maybe CIPD needs a new logo. One with a skull...
I read the above article in the Sunday papers with interest.
Recent research has uncovered a dark triad of characteristics which are commoner among senior managers and celebrities than the general population: psychopathy (cold, callous ruthlessness), Machiavellianism (manipulative game-playing) and narcissism (me-me-me grandiosity).
I've always doubted whether “Leadership” is a measurable competence. And often, it seems to me, the more acceptable elements of this “dark triad” are exactly what are sought and promoted under the broad competency of "Leadership".
Indeed Oliver James's own solution seems to be to hone similar skills “so you can cope much better with triadic colleagues.” This is both pragmatic and worrying. I was once called in by the HR department of a large financial services company to revamp their graduate assessment process. They had looked at which graduates were thriving within their company and why. They found that the solid old-fashioned competencies they were recruiting against weren't predicting success. Whereas “networking” and “political nous” and similar indicators were.
They wanted me to design exercises that could find graduates with these skills. Which I thought was ridiculous. At the time I was in the fortunate position of being able to turn the work down. No doubt someone else took up the task. This company is one of the companies that James would highlight as being in thrall to the dark forces of the triadic. And it'll take a lot more than just replacing a couple of people at the top to change that.
I'm designing a psychometric test for use with front-line managers. And am obviously keeping aware of any similarities, or differences, between what I'm trying to design and what already exists.
I keep remembering a conversation from when I studied for an MSc in Psychological Assessment many years ago. We were talking about the different types of validity a psychological test needs to have to be considered, um, valid – face, content, construct, concurrent, predictive, and impact and so on. Our professor asked us what tests we actually used at work. So we discussed the merits of OPQ, Myers Briggs, SDI and others, and when he came to me I said the only one I'd used of late was Belbin Team Roles, for training and development purposes.
“Oh yes” he said. “Every trainer's classic stand-by. It promotes discussion, a bit of navel-gazing, fills the gaps of a dozen different training sessions. But, of course, the real reason trainers love it is that it can be photocopied for free out the back of the book. It has what we like to call 'Xerox validity'”.
A self-employed training consultant muses on the world of work.