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Your External Locus of Control is Driving Me Crazy....

Here's a common theme from the life of one HR pro.  How you view the world either reinforces my belief in the strength of the human condition, or it drives me crazy. 

What are the world views I'm talking about? You either get screwed or make sure you aren't screwed.  You'reIts-not-me a victim or you're a hero.

You've got an internal locus of control, or an external one - which means nothing is ever your fault.

How do HR pros know if you have an external locus of control?  Let me count the ways:

--You complained about your past boss when you interviewed...

--Shame on us for hiring you, because now you're complaining about your current boss, whom everyone else seems to tolerate fine (who saw that one coming?)

--You couldn't reach your goals because of a bunch of external stuff out of your control...

--Your life, when you choose to share, could easily be titled "victim nation" if it was made into a mini-series.

Let's face it, the players in your organization have an internal locus of control.  They know that they're responsible for their results.  The other folks?  Most have varying stages of the ole' external locus of control.  Factors outside of their control conspired for the poor results. 

Here's more on the locus factor from BusinessWeek:

"There are two kinds of employees. Some believe they can make things happen, and the others believe that things happen to them. The first group believes that the outcome of their life and career is more or less in their own hands, and they wouldn't have it any other way. The other group takes more of a Forrest Gump approach: They sit around and wait for a bus to take them somewhere.

This distinguishing feature is captured by something called a "core self-evaluation." After more than a decade of research, psychologist Tim Judge has discovered that virtually all superstar employees—from rainmakers in the field to line workers on the floor all the way to big guns in the boardroom—have one thing in common: a high core self-evaluation. Judge describes core self-evaulation as "a person's fundamental bottom line evaluation of their abilities."

Judge and his colleagues have shown overwhelmingly that employees who feel like they control the events in their lives more than events control them and generally believe that they can make things turn out in their favor end up doing better on nearly every important measure of work performance. They sell more than other employees do. They give better customer service. They adjust better to foreign assignments. They are more motivated. They bring in an average of 50% to 150% more annual income than people who feel less control over the fate of their careers. Not surprisingly, these employees also like their jobs a lot more than the Gumps do.

By now, you're likely agreeing with the premise and even identifying people in your life who fit the model described above - hopefully you're even thinking about what tools are out there to help you figure out who in your organization is the anti-victim.

I thought you'd never ask.  To identify these stars who can take charge, you can use Judge's simple 12-question "Core Self-Evaluations Scale." (You can learn more about the scale and download it for free on Tim Judge's Web site.).  It's free - and I don't know Judge - I just dig the tool and believe in the power of the external locus of control...

How do you use what you find?  I've got some ideas, but I'll leave that up to you...


Joseph Marsh

Quick Q: The link to Tim Judge's web site goes directly to the CSES scale you refer to, but I can't find anything on the site on the "learn more about the scale" part. Any ideas?



Here is a link to the article itself. It should be everything you need to know.



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