For the past 10 years, I have been studying individuals in the workplace who present dark personalities such as narcissism and psychopathy. I have published research papers on the subject, given many presentations, and consulted with different organizations (private sector, government agencies, and law enforcement).Cynthia Mathieu, Ph.D.
This chapter introduces the notion of personality disorders and focuses on defining and profiling dark personalities.
Theory: The Dark Triad Model, composed of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, is introduced, and each personality is described and defined. The association between these three dark personalities and other personality models is presented. The origins of dark personalities are addressed, and the causes, developmental factors, gender differences, and their prevalence in society and the workplace are introduced.
Practice: The practical section of the chapter offers a workplace competency profile of the three dark personalities. This Dark Triad Workplace Competency Profile provides information on how candidates presenting dark personalities score on 50 competencies used for employee selection and promotion. The profile includes most of the competencies used by I/O psychologists and HR professionals for different positions, including management positions.
This chapter focuses on dark personalities and career choice. It addresses how organizational culture and job postings can influence job candidates who present dark personalities.
Theory: In this section of the chapter, I present how organizational culture creates an attractive environment for individuals with dark personalities. I also address dark personalities and career choice, as well as the importance of job posting. I introduce elements as part of an organizational culture change that could help diminish the attractivity factor for future candidates who present dark personalities.
Practice: In the practice section of this chapter, I introduce how, by using an existing measure of organizational culture, the Organizational Culture Profile (OCP; O’Reilly III, Chatman, & Caldwell, 1991), organizations can measure their attractiveness factor for future candidates presenting dark personalities. I present how the OCP can be used to measure the degree of attractiveness an organization can have for candidates with dark personalities by offering an example of how individuals with dark personalities would score on the OCP and a table in which organizations can compare their results on the OCP to the profiles of individuals with dark personalities. By doing so, organizations will be able to identify red flags in their organizational culture that could and should be addressed to reduce the risk of attracting candidates presenting dark personalities. The practice section also covers elements that should be included in a job posting as well as a job posting exercise that allows readers to apply the notions presented throughout the chapter.
This chapter addresses how candidates with dark personalities manage to excel during selection interviews and current best practices in selection processes that may reduce the risk of hiring candidates with dark personalities.
Theory: In this section of the chapter, I present Impression Management (IM) tactics used by individuals with dark personalities to enter organizations. I
also explain how organizations increase their chances of hiring candidates with dark personalities by only using unstructured interviews.
Practice: In this section of the chapter, I offer a step-by-step guide to best hiring practices that include: Job posting, Job analysis, Competency referential, Creating valid interview questions, Conduction an effective interview, Psychometric testing, Reference check, Scoring candidates, and Decision-making. This chapter’s practice section also includes an exercise on creating a selection process for different types of positions and a case study.
Individuals with dark personalities use impression management (IM) tactics to gain access to organizations, and they continue to use these tactics to gain power and rise the corporate ladder.
Theory: In this chapter, I present IM tactics used during performance appraisals to manipulate evaluators. Furthermore, I address how employees with dark personalities manipulate performance appraisal systems and people within organizations to gain access to management positions. Furthermore, in this section, I introduce elements that should be taken into consideration in order to create an effective performance appraisal process. The importance of multisource ratings, especially for management positions, is discussed. Finally, key elements for successfully implementing performance appraisal systems are introduced.
Practice: In the practice section of the present chapter, readers will be encouraged to create a performance appraisal document as well as a 360-degree feedback assessment.
Leadership style is defined by a leader’s personality. Toxic or abusive leadership is the behavioral expression of dark personality traits.
Theory: This chapter addresses the relationship between dark personality traits and leadership style and leader behaviors. I introduce a model of the impact of leader personality on employees and organizational outcome. I present how each of the three dark personalities included in the Dark Triad has an influence on leadership style. Finally, positive leadership theories and models are introduced, and explanations as to why individuals presenting dark personalities would score low on the competencies associated with positive leadership styles are presented.
Practice: Leadership competencies are extracted from each of the positive leadership styles to form a Positive Leadership Competency Profile. Readers are encouraged to create a leadership competency profile for selection, performance appraisal, and promotion.
Antipersonnel weapons used during wartime were designed and used to terrorize communities, deny access to resources, and restrict movement; similarly, violence in the workplace is used to instill fear in others in order to control them and gain personal and organizational power.
Theory: In this chapter, different forms of workplace violence are defined, and their consequences on employees and the workplace are presented. A workplace violence perpetrator profile is offered, and narcissistic, Machiavellian, and psychopathic violence are addressed. Furthermore, organizational causes of workplace violence are presented.
Practice: This section presents the elements that should be included in the creation of a secure workplace. Steps on how to intervene following a harassment complaint and during and after a harassment investigation are presented. Finally, the exercise for this chapter consists of creating a harassment policy and program.
Individuals with dark personalities can hurt employees and organizations in many ways.
Theory: In this chapter, I address how employees with dark personalities present lower organizational commitment, job satisfaction, work motivation, and loyalty. I also address the fact that they do not tend to perform organizational citizenship behaviors. Furthermore, the fact that individuals with dark personalities are at higher risk of committing different forms of counterproductive work behaviors (CWB) is addressed, and different forms of CWB are presented. The association between corporate fraudsters’ profile and dark personality traits is presented as well as the association between corporate fraud and other work misbehavior. Organizational structures that allow and support fraud and CWB are introduced, and recommendations on actions to put in place in order to reduce corporate fraud and CWB are offered.
Practice: In this section, I present traits associated with CWB and corporate fraud and suggest that they should be measured within the selection and promotion processes. The exercise for this chapter consists of writing a CWB/fraud policy and program.
While best practices in selection and promotion may reduce the risk of hiring and/or promoting individuals with dark personalities, some may still manage to enter organizations and do harm, both on a human and organizational level.
Theory: In this chapter, I present recommendations on how to deal with employees presenting dark personalities who are at different levels of the organizational hierarchy (i.e., an employee, a colleague, or a manager). I also make recommendations on how to deal with employees or managers with dark personalities who have committed corporate misbehavior, whether it is interpersonal or financial misbehavior, or both.
Practice: Case studies presented at the end of the book are introduced, and readers are encouraged to identify wrongful behaviors and establish a plan to deal with the individuals who perpetrate these wrongful behaviors.
In this last chapter, I address final thoughts, broad ideas, and personal thoughts on how to change our mindset to diminish the power given to dark individuals in our society. I address concepts such as success, leadership, humility, greed, and growth. I then make recommendations on creating a positive workplace, a workplace that would not attract or tolerate individuals with dark personalities and intentions. I present key elements composing a positive workplace to reduce the risk of attracting, hiring, and promoting individuals presenting dark personalities.
Dark Personalities in the Workplace defines dark personalities, their prevalence in the workplace, and how they are best managed. The book brings together research in psychology and business to both profile these employees and impart best practices for businesses to manage them. Chapters explore narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy in a work context. Coverage includes common behaviors such as incivility, negative attitudes, counterproductive behavior, harassment, bullying, violence and fraud. The importance of leadership and organizational culture is explored as a mitigating factor to the ill effects of dark personalities. Case studies, applied solutions and practical tools round out the discussion. In addition, practical advice is given on how to avoid hiring dark personalities, avoid promoting dark personalities, and how to perform investigations and interventions with dark personalities.