Derailers During COVID-19

Crises can bring out both the best and the worst in people. When individuals must adapt to new circumstances, or face uncertainty due lack of information, the conditions may blur the line between strength and weakness — drive may become ruthless ambition, attention to detail may become micromanaging, and so on.

Situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic can result in a strength being overused; these traits make up the “dark side” of personality. The characteristics of a dark side can be strengths under normal circumstances, but, when individuals are not self-monitoring, can become reputation-ruining interpersonal flaws.

In this document, D-TECK proposes a list of these 11 dimensions, identified by our partners at Hogan Assessment Systems, alongside descriptions of ways these traits might be demonstrated by the individual in lieu of the events relating to COVID-19, whether the individual is a colleague, a supervisor or even yourself.

Missed our first article defining each individual derailers? Catch up by reading 11 Performance Derailers (click here to read).


Organizing Derailers by Cluster

The 11 derailers have been classified into three clusters based on three typical types of responses that may be perceived under circumstances of stress or excessive comfort in a professional environment: moving away, moving against and moving toward. Descriptions for each cluster are provided in this document.


Moving Away

The first cluster is defined by the Excitable, Sceptical, Cautious, Reserved, and Leisurely scales, and whose components include feelings of insecurity, mistrust, hostility, and social withdrawal. This corresponds to the interpersonal theme characterized as “moving away from others” as a method for dealing with insecurity.



Possible response to COVID-19


Moody & prone to overreacting

Emotional outbursts; Vacillates between overly pessimistic and overly optimistic views of the pandemic’s impact.


Cynical & mistrustful

Assumes coworkers are sloughing off; Spreads rumours and conspiracy theories.


Extremely reluctant to take risks

Have difficulty to make timely decisions about priorities; Take too long to communicate directions to others; Excessively hoards supplies in case the worst happens.


Stoic & disconnected

Takes a business-as-usual approach; Tunes out or dismisses others’ worries and hardships.


Covertly resistant & insincere

Says yes but does not deliver. Plays the “pandemic” card as a handy excuse for not getting anything done on time.


Moving Against

The second cluster is defined by the Bold, Mischievous, Colourful, and Imaginative scales. This syndrome includes social (but not necessarily private) self-confidence, impulsivity, energy, competitiveness, and a talent for self-display. This corresponds with “moving against” people – overwhelming, co-opting, intimidating, persuading, manipulating – as a technique for managing insecurity.



Response to COVID-19


Stubborn, arrogant & smug

Discounts others’ concerns and believes he/she is the only one talented enough to solve problems; Quick to blame others


Irreverent & untrustworthy

Routinely violates team norms and company policies; May not adhere to coronavirus mitigation recommendations


“Showboating” & overwhelming

Goes on and on about personal challenges; Darts between issues; Takes up all the airtime, and does not listen


Off-the-wall & unrealistic

Offers unusual or overly philosophical beliefs about work, the pandemic, and life in general; Becomes enamoured with his/her own points of view


Moving Toward

The third cluster is defined by the Diligent and Dutiful scales. This is a syndrome consisting of conformity, obedience, and eagerness to please – what might be described as “moving toward” people, building alliances, and securing approval as a way of dealing with one’s insecurities.



Response to COVID-19


Perfectionist & demanding

Sets unrealistic or excessively high standards of performance to compensate for the current slowdown; Micromanages to compensate for lack of physical presence (for situations of work-from-home) at distance


Ingratiating & deferential

Follows orders without raising legitimate concerns (e.g., resource constraints); Have difficulty to share bad news with those in positions of authority


Our experts in organizational psychology can help assess individuals. Our D-TECK reports evaluate the strengths and areas of improvements in a professional context for 11 types of profiles, including personality, management skills, cognitive abilities and general aptitudes and skills.

If you have any questions, you may contact us at or via our website



This document serves as an informative resource only. This document, by itself, does not hold any value in terms of formally assessing individuals. It is important to notice that context is key, and many other factors (such as the individual’s job function or the organization’s culture) can play an important role in determining if a dimension with a high score is misused or overused.