Avoiding Hiring Psychopaths and Sociopaths

October 4, 2013

Back in a 2011 Forbes article , a book about psychopathology (“The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry”,  by Jon Ronson) revealed that around 4% of corporate CEO’s are sociopaths.  (Sociopath: One who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior – www.thefreedictionary.com)  In case you were wondering, the term sociopath is often used interchangeably with the term psychopath, but clinically is used to refer to an antisocial person who became that way from being brought up in an antisocial or criminal subculture, while a psychopath has somewhat different personality traits and a condition that is often inherited.   (Psychopath: A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse – www.thefreedictionary.com).  The most severe among psychopaths sometimes become serial killers or other types of criminal, and many wind up in jail but, more importantly, the less severe cases are much harder to spot without extended interaction and observation.  Thinking on this made me wonder if the seemingly predatory behavior of some corporations isn’t indicative of psychopathology at the top.  Needless to say, people with this disorder can be very harmful to their employer and the people around them, and often behave in ways business managers, coworkers, and investors would not appreciate, so how can you avoid hiring them in the first place? Read the rest of this entry »

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Replace Pay-for-Performance and Annual Reviews with Leadership for Meaningful Improvement

May 25, 2011

Pay-for-performance, merit pay, and annual reviews have not worked out well.  W. Edwards Deming started as a statistician but became one of the greatest business thinkers in human history. His ability to penetrate common business issues and get to the fundamental truths and fallacies behind them was amazing. His research clearly illuminated what most of us had already felt, if we took the time to think about it: pay-for-performance and periodic performance reviews, while often yielding us pay increases and other rewards, almost always left us feeling mistreated and angry, and sometimes in competition with our colleagues – not a good feeling.  Why is this? Read the rest of this entry »


Do Zealous Recruiter’s Methods Expose a Business Fallacy?

November 8, 2008

An interesting blog item (and WSJ article) on a zealous recruiter gave me pause to think about some of the ways our business community regards the individual. Here’s an excerpt from the item:

You can run but you can’t hide when Perry’s on the prowl.

David Perry - The Recruiting Animal Show

According to Sarah Needleman of The Wall Street Journal, David Perry is a rogue recruiter.
I can’t see why. Just last week, I spoke to Jennifer McClure, a Cincinatti recruiter who insists that she only approaches potential candidates via members of their trusted networks. But if your network isn’t all powerful and you want to find someone special, you have to do some detective work and make a direct approach.

The thing about David Perry is that he’s so ballsy — and wily, too.

The first time I met him he told me that he had once rented a coffee truck and sold donuts at an industrial park until he got the name of a target who worked inside.

The “rogue recruiter” illuminates a frequently occurring flaw in Western business thinking. Reading how David Perry operates, I have to think there’s an ethical (and possibly legal) line there somewhere, and it sounds like David Perry may be crossing it at times. That’s not good, but his business is also evidence of the mistaken idea that some people are so superior to others that they are worth expensive and extreme efforts to recruit. Read the rest of this entry »


Startup Company Operations: The Hummingbird or the Shrew

October 8, 2008

The hummingbird identifies and harvests food sources with great but regulated energy, while the shrew forages furiously in a constant battle for survival. For purposes of discussion I will consider only the grass-roots startup company, not spin-offs or startups sponsored by existing companies.  Companies, like the people they are made of, exist on a continuum. Nobody is at the extreme or exactly in the middle of any range, but I will address relative extremes here to illustrate my point that well-planned and disciplined operations work best for the startup as well as the established company. The hummingbird illustrates the company that maintains and evolves a plan, and works to make the plan happen, while the shrew illustrates the company that operates on inspiration and enthusiasm, and often seems to be always late and scrambling, or operating as if in an emergency.  How does the startup company’s style of operation affect its prospects for successful growth and future prosperity? Read the rest of this entry »


Good Quality Job Listings Save Time and Money, and Build a Better Organization

September 2, 2008

Recent experience reviewing job listings shows most have room for improvement. Having been laid off from my automotive industry assignment of the past ten years in mid-July, I have been spending a lot of time perusing the job listings at places like monster.com, indeed.com, careerbuilder.com, the state of Michigan’s Michigan Talent Bank website, and many other similar places. The first thing I noticed about a lot of what companies posted was the frequent mistakes in grammar, word usage, and just plain poor writing. That’s not bad, just careless and (sadly) commensurate with the increasing prevalence of poor English skills in the United States. Then I also noticed that there was often evidence of a certain clueless-ness about how to attract the best candidates and “sell” a position. Needless to say, looking clueless is not a good thing, so how can you avoid it? Read the rest of this entry »