Deutsche Bank is slightly happier and more positive place to work. Two months ago, the German bank unrolled a program to encourage its employees to share the positive impact they were having upon clients and society to an internal web page created for that purpose. Coincidentally, it also installed a craft coffee trolley in its London foyer. Something seems to have gone right. Bloomberg reports today that Deutsche’s latest employee satisfaction survey reveals that around half the bank’s global staff are now proud to work there – a slight improvement upon last year, despite the absence of performance bonuses for 2016. Morale at the German bank is stabilizing for the first time in three years.
The warm feelings at DB might be the result of more than the artisanal coffee trolley and positive hashtagging. Deutsche insiders point out that the bank has also worked hard to improve its culture by swapping out senior people. Werner Steinmueller, head of the bank’s APAC business said yesterday that, “fixing culture is one of the most difficult things to achieve,” and noted that under the leadership of CEO John Cryan Deutsche has changed 18 of its senior management positions. “Except for two or three, [there] are new people or people who were not involved in senior positions before,” Steinmueller said.
Now a new Deutsche job ad helps explain why Deutsche’s promotions may have brought a waft of fresh air. The German bank is looking for a “workforce capability specialist” to join its leadership planning and development team and develop a pipeline of senior talent. Among other things, the individual in question needs to be familiar with Hogan psychometric tests – a suite of tools best known in the leadership development context for their ability to identify “dark side elements” of the personality which can come to the fore in times of strain.
Deutsche didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on its use of the Hogan tests. However, the bank is no stranger to personality testing – it uses Koru, a machine learning-based test, to assess junior staff.
Hogan’s darkside questionnaire looks for 11 “derailers” which can prompt senior staff to come undone. They are categorized as follows:
- Being skeptical: If you’re not skeptical at all, you’re trusting, forgiving and naïve. If you’re too skeptical, you’re suspicious, argumentative and shrewd. A subset of skeptical characteristics includes being cynical and holding grudges.
- Being excitable: If you’re not at all excitable, you’ll be peaceful content and relaxed. If you’re “high risk” excitable, you’ll be volatile passionate and emotional. The subset of excitable characteristics include being easily disappointed (or not easily disappointed enough and therefore lacking “fire in the belly”) and lacking direction.
- Being bold: Being bold is a bad thing when you’re so bold that you’re forceful, arrogant, and demanding. As subcategories of boldness, Hogan says you might also be entitled, over-confident and suffer from fantasies relating to your own talent.
- Being mischievous: Having a few very slightly mischievous senior bankers might be a great thing, but Hogan screens for excessive mischief which it says can be, “limit testing, impulsive and manipulative.”
- Being reserved: If you’re high risk reserved, you’ll be remote, aloof, and tough. You might also be highly introverted, argumentative and anti-social. Being super-social also isn’t great though: it can be a sign of being too conflict-avoidant.
- Being dutiful: If you’re high risk dutiful, you’re loyal, respectful and conforming. If you’re not dutiful enough you’re challenging, independent and unconventional. Highly dutiful people may be too compliant and very ingratiating. Not very dutiful people may also be disloyal and rebellious, challenging and contentious.
- Being leisurely: Hogan says a leisurely attitude becomes a risk when you become stubborn, procrastinating and uncoachable. You might also be horribly passive aggressive (defined as, “overtly pleasant and compliant but privately resentful and subversive regarding requests for improved performance; moody and easily upset.”)
- Being imaginative: Having a bit of imagination is all very well, but not when you’re “strategic, unfocused, and expansive.” You might also be overly eccentric (expressing “unusual views that may be creative or strange”) or too creative (“bored and potentially overconfident in one’s problem-solving ability”).
- Being diligent: Hogan screens for too much diligence, which makes people ” hard-working, scrupulous, and controlling.” It also screens for insufficient diligence, which can lead to people having low standards and being too forgiving.
- Being colourful: The test looks out for people who are “high risk colourful” and therefore, “dramatic, flirtatious, and noisy.” It also looks for people who are drab and, “may seem socially inhibited and lacking in outward confidence.”
The implication is that Deutsche’s leaders are screened for and made aware of their darkside shortcomings. Hogan says business and finance people tend to suffer from being bold, colourful and dutiful. Technology and quantitative types tend to suffer from being cautious, reserved and diligent. Having darkside traits need not be the end of a bid for promotion: Hogan says it’s possible to “coach the darkside personality” and Deutsche specifies a coaching qualification alongside familiarity with Hogan tests in its job description.
Either way, it seems you shouldn’t find arrogant, ingratiating or overly demanding people at the top of DB any more.