Catching ‘Mr Hyde traits’ at the office

Chitra Narayanan Chitra Narayanan & Shobha Roy Hyderabad/Kolkata April 27 | Updated on April 27, 2018 Published on April 27, 2018

Around 60-80 per cent of stress in organisations comes from strained interpersonal relationship among employees, leading to lower productivity.

Firms are signing on to HR tech start-up Mettl’s ‘dark personality’ inventory tool

Kotak Mahindra Bank recently fired an employee over his insensitive comments on Facebook about the Kathua incident. His dark side came to the fore on social media. But how can employers nip negative behaviours before they surface at the workplace? Or better still, catch them at the recruitment stage?

HR tech start-up Mettl has designed a test to gauge ‘dark personality’ behaviours and their workplace impact. It looks at six traits that could snowball into undesirable behaviours: opportunism, self-obsession, insensitivity, temperamental, impulsiveness and thrill-seeking.

According to Tonmoy Shingal, co-founder & COO of Mettle, the tool was spurred by a survey it did among 1,900 professionals in mid- to high-management positions; 85 per cent of them reported they were stressed by their peers’ exhibition of dark personality behaviours. It has put together the findings of the survey, along with other research, in a report done with the Society for Human Resource Management called ‘Uncovering the Dark Traits of Human Personality’.

Shingal points to the rise in distressing incidents at workplaces ranging from sexual harassment, harsh behaviour by teachers in schools, and so on.

The alpha version of Mettl’s Dark Personality Inventory was launched six months ago. About 50 companies, including schools and healthcare providers, have subscribed to it, says Shingal. “Just by being aware of negative propensities, and addressing these through training, 70-80 per cent cases could be eradicated,” he says.

HR professionals, however, note that it may not be right to rely on just one psychometric tool as it could be subjective. Sriram Vaidhyanathan, Chief Human Resource Officer at, says these tools are at a developmental stage and need to be tailored for specific roles.

“Psychometric tests may show up weak links, but they have to be thoroughly understood,” said Premkumar P, SVP & Head-HR, Lakshmi Vilas Bank.

Praveen Menon, Chief People Officer, IndiaFirst Life Insurance, says it will “be prudent to rely on other established practices — background verification, neutral reference checks, compliance and risk orientation assessment — to mitigate potential issues.”

Shingal says the tests have been designed by behavioural psychologists. Job roles and industries are divided into red, yellow and green zones, based on their vulnerability to dark traits. Not every dark trait causes adverse impact. But if impulsiveness, thrill-seeking and temperamental traits were found together and in high levels in a teacher, that does not bode well.

Globally, there are companies such as Hogan that do ‘dark traits’ testing. In India, several companies do use Hogan solutions. But Shingal says Mettl offers a solution that is relevant to the Indian workplace scenario.

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Published on April 27, 2018
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