1. You call yourself a “chief awesomeness officer”. What is your background and journey to that title?
DCI is all about awesomeness, and this was inspired by Kung Fu Panda. A character who knows they can do more, be more … but feels stuck in a situation where they have become underachievers. The work environment we are in affects how much of our potential we use.
And when we feel we are not using it, we lose much of our passion and engagement and we underachieve.
The Panda overcame this and that is what we do. We develop leaders and company cultures to support high performance and certify trainers to achieve the same … we help people reach their “personal” potential “through” their jobs.
2. What has been the key to your success?
Failure! I was half a million dollars in debt from business failure and needed to get a job. It wasn’t the first time I failed, but it was definitely the biggest.
Like most people, I was very excited when I first started my new job as a department head … I could envision a great future, I imagined the great impact I would make and the appreciation from the powers that be … I had passion!
But as I got settled in, I noticed that people were blaming each other; finance blamed marketing, procurement blamed finance, sales blamed management … I remember thinking “what is wrong with these people!”
But I knew I could make an impact so I came up with lots of, what I thought, were very good ideas to meet company objectives and asked other departments to help me on it.
But here too, I was told, “you do your thing, we’ll do our thing” – no co-operation.
I knew I could make a difference and four and a half months later … I found myself blaming people and other departments.
People would come up to me and ask for help … I would look at them and say “you do your thing, I’ll do my thing!”
I had been sucked into the environment. My passion was gone, I felt stuck … I know I could do more, be more, but the environment was not supportive of being my best … I had become an underachiever.
Eventually I looked into the mirror and decided I was not the person I wanted to be, and so I went and talked to the other department heads (the bad people who were stunting my ability to succeed) and I discovered something very unexpected, I found that they were real human beings who also wanted to achieve more, be more. They were just like me. They had been sucked into the environment and the culture.
After a year of research, the foundations of what later became known as directive communication psychology was born and tried. We ended up saving the company $17,000 a week in wastage … then I got into newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and eventually was able to move on and start DCI. And, well, here I am.
3. Why are companies reinventing the way we work?
We are now in the PFB era (post-Facebook). Social media and the age of “instant” has changed the emotional landscape of groups and work … we are no longer dependent on the emotional gratification from our bosses and peers. We are now in control. We have the power to feel achievement, recognition and significance, a sense of love and belonging, all in the palm of our hand (literally).
If our boss does not recognise an effort we feel should be … no problem, I can post a picture of a kitten and get 100 likes in 20 minutes … I don’t need the boss to feel good … and if it happens too often, I can just leave.
Leadership models of the past are not equipped for this new era. The careful cultivation of the “right” organisational culture is now essential and the ability for a leader to sculpt, nurture and sustain it are the new highly sought-after skills.
4. How do you see AI and machine learning impacting companies in the future?
But they cannot inspire people. They cannot imagine and create from nothing. They cannot support human beings to achieve greatness and higher levels of self.
5. What should companies and HR professionals be doing to prepare for this future?
Become experts in human disciplines: the psychology of group dynamics and culture, and the applications of psychology to innovation and personal performance.
First, let’s clarify what gamification is … work gamification is not about play, it is understanding the biological and psychological elements that support culture, motivation and commitment.
The reason many organisations do not implement work gamification processes to solve organisational performance problems (and positively affect organisational culture in the process) is because they are looking at traditional gamification, generally effective in sales departments, and believe that is what gamification is. It’s not!
The future organisation will apply gamification to improve communication, engagement, performance, co-operation, innovation, safety and even leadership at all levels.
Gamification by nature provides feedback, and it provides it regularly. It increases the element of fun through achievement, and if structured properly, teams do not need to compete since gamification also measures co-operation in the achievement of objectives.
Currently, organisations do lots of training, but seldom do the after-training efforts to make the training sustainable … it’s like wasting money. This is so important to the future of an organisation’s culture and workforce.
7. What is your one key takeaway from your journey and one key piece of advice to leaders in the HR industry?
Never underestimate the power of commitment. When you have an emotional investment, you can achieve anything … if the environment/culture you are in supports this commitment … and the thing that many managers do not accept is failure. So what happens is that their people stop trying new things or hide what does go wrong or just blame someone or something … they become frustrated underachievers because the organisation’s culture does not understand them and their potential.
There is greater risk in killing the spirit and passion of a team member compared with allowing them to fail in an elevated feedback environment to help them fail intelligently.
World top 10 leadership & HR guru Arthur Carmazzi will be sharing his insights with leading HR practitioners on how companies are working differently to succeed in today's rapidly changing business environment at Talent Management Asia 2018.
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