From Readers

Screen for hotheads during hiring; more.

Jun 1, 2010
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0610cover.gif Screen for Hotheads

April’s "Helping Employees Cool It" distinguished between employees who show cold anger (gossip, back-stabbing) and those who show hot anger (red face, road rage). It is estimated that 5 percent to 7 percent of people, mostly men, have an intermittent explosive disorder. Their loose emotional controls lead to hot anger, aggression or, at times, violent outbursts disproportionate to the circumstances. In extreme cases, such behavior can lead to workplace violence.

A new employee does not suddenly develop this disorder or hot-anger outbursts. Such behavior likely can be traced to developmental years. It can go untriggered for months, then suddenly erupt with negative consequences. Considering bosses’ reluctance to say anything negative about former employees in reference checks, disruptive behavior reflecting loose emotional controls will seldom be identified in background checks. What to do?

Two psychologists, Lawrence James and Michael McIntyre, after extensive research, published the Conditional Reasoning Test of Aggression, a psychological assessment designed to measure a candidate’s predisposition to engage in aggressive acts. The assessment is short, easily administered and scored, and inexpensive. Another instrument is the Emotional Quotient Inventory, especially its assertiveness and impulsiveness subscales.

High scores on these assessments would not, by themselves, be a "stop signal" for a candidate’s selection but would warrant careful exploration in interviews and background checks. A candidate with this disorder will leave a trail, although often hard to identify, of damaged relationships, angry and aggressive outbursts, sabotage, or worse. Once hired, these folks are essentially untrainable by conflict management programs, so just don’t hire them.

Donovan R. Greene, Ph.D.
Mountain View, Calif.

Truly Inspirational!

I was completely inspired by "Focusing on the ‘Human’ in HR" (April).

Learning about Nikki Jackson’s goal of developing a more focused and engaged workforce while having fun and increasing productivity for the Kentucky government’s HR function was refreshing and truly motivational!

Tamela G. Smith
Clayton, N.C.

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