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We asked our Chief Science Officer, Paula Baetu, a few questions so you can get to know her better.

What is the biggest highlight of your working life?

I value learning, so starting my own business and following the road less travelled is my biggest highlight, as I have learned the most through this experience. However, I know there are many more career highlights to come, and I am looking forward to those. 

What does great talent management mean to you?

Great talent management is a beginning to end process. It is the full scope of processes to attract, develop, motivate and retain high-performing talent, not a pick and mix. Great talent management ensures all parts of the talent machine are well taken care of with the goal of thriving, engaged and effective talent within the organization. 

Who has inspired you most in your career?

My parents played a really big role in my career, but in different ways. My father has always challenged I have been inspired by many people in different ways and for different reasons. My parents are one of my role models as they have run their own successful business since I was born. However, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now without the support and guidance of my mentors and supporters along the way. 

What energizes you most about your work?

I love working with people and the unique energy each person brings into a room. I am highly energized by developing others either through running workshops, coaching or mentoring. 

How do you relax outside work?

I enjoy being social, a range of strength-based exercises (from weight lifting to callisthenics), photography, good food and travel. 

What do you like most about working at TalentPredix™? 

TalentPredix™ is not just a company I work for; it is a dream I have helped build from the ground up. What I love about where we are right now is the possibilities and potential to grow TalentPredix™ into more than a business, into something that truly helps people and organizations thrive. 

Most of us understand the value of personal reflection and renewal moving into a new year. Like me, I’m sure everyone hopes this year will mark the end of the pandemic stage of Covid so we can get back to whatever the new normal looks like. Although there are many factors like Covid that we can’t control, what we can control is the way we manage our energy and psychological health in response to setbacks and struggles we encounter, including the choices we make and the type of mindset we adopt. 

Many of you will have got into the habit of setting goals and resolutions at the start of each year. However, most people don’t apply the same discipline when it comes to managing their energy and psychological health. Yet, these are arguably the most important drivers of our long-term happiness and success. Managing our energy and psychological health provides the positive ‘fuel’ to help us achieve our career and life goals. It can also make us more resilient, adaptable, optimistic, and self-confident. 

Here are 7 keys to help improve your emotional and psychological health for the coming year and set you up for your best year yet.

1. Discover your purpose and stick to it 

People who discover their purpose and stay true to it are far more likely to be committed and engaged at work. They find deeper meaning in their work and have a clearer vision of what they want to achieve. This instills a deep sense of commitment and enables them to focus their skills and talents on what they are most passionate about. Studies show that when people have a clear and meaningful purpose and apply their natural talents to work towards this, they are far more likely to enjoy work, perform better and achieve greater career success.

2. Master your mindset

All of us will experience setbacks and difficulties during the year, although the nature and emotional intensity of these will vary significantly. Never allow yourself to become a victim of negative thinking and adverse circumstances. If you do, you’ll soon enter a vicious cycle of low self-confidence, pessimism, helplessness, and eventually depression. Remember that you are free to choose your mindset and how you respond to any situation, no matter how difficult. 

Even in the darkest moments when nothing seems to be going right, we have the power to find a positive way forward and not to be defined by setbacks, mistakes and adverse circumstances. We can all learn from the great wisdom of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, who pointed out in his bestselling book, Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

3. Challenge your inner critic 

All of us have an inner critic, even the most outwardly confident and successful celebrities, leaders, and entrepreneurs. But some learn to control these inner gremlins effectively while others find themselves overwhelmed by them. 

Don’t let your inner critic – limiting voices of self-doubt and fear – get the better of you. Listen carefully and write down the negative, limiting things you say to yourself. Treat these as if they were being said by an external person who is not fair, supportive, or rational. Challenge and question these points as if you were disputing something someone has said which is unfair or unjustified. Reframe these negative statements as positive, empowering ones. Write down these positive statements and look at them every day before work and whenever you are experiencing episodes of self-doubt or anxiety. Over time, your negative narratives will be replaced by positive ones. 

4. Choose to spend time with energy multipliers 

Research indicates that people’s emotions and mindsets are contagious. Spending time with people who are upbeat, resilient, and solutions-oriented will provide you with a positive and supportive network. Over time, this will multiply your positive energy, growth, and effectiveness, leading to greater happiness, wellbeing and performance. 

On the other hand, if you hang out mainly with negative, ‘glass half empty’ people who sap your energy and add no value then it’s likely you’ll develop a negative outlook to work and life.  It’s best not to get sucked into this vortex of negativity unless you want to spend all your time struggling through life. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid friends and co-workers who have temporary setbacks and difficulties that cause them to experience inevitable emotional lows and difficulties. Always stick by these people and show compassion, empathy, and support to help them through their difficult patch. This builds trust, openness, and emotional closeness, all of which are pre-requisites for meaningful, satisfying and emotionally mature relationships.   

5. Declutter 

Don’t leave decluttering to the springtime. Decluttering your house and office at the start of each new year enables you to simplify your life. It will leave you feeling invigorated, unburdened, and satisfied. Studies show it can also boost your self-esteem, focus and quality of thinking. Tidying enables you to get rid of unnecessary possessions that don’t add value to your life as well as those that are associated with unhappy memories from the past. Gifting these items to a charity or person who needs them more than you will raise your spirits, as research shows that people derive happiness and joy by helping others. However, make sure you don’t go overboard and throw away possessions that have deep sentimental meaning and attachment to you, as getting rid of these might undermine rather than improve your emotional wellbeing. 

6. Focus on what’s going well 

Many people keep themselves so busy at work and home that they don’t take time to slow down and notice the good things happening in their life and around them. For example, we often fail to spot our co-workers doing great work or a friend or partner making a special effort on our behalf. Many even fail to notice and celebrate their own learning, progress, and professional achievements. They simply move on to the next thing and lose a valuable opportunity to enjoy the scenic ‘lookout points’ in their relentless quest to conquer the next peak. Take time to notice and be grateful for these special moments, however small, as this will enhance your wellbeing as well as the happiness of those around you.

7. Ditch negative news and social media 

Put yourself on a news and social media fast for a few weeks or become more selective about the types of media you consume. A lot of our traditional and online media pedal primarily negative news that gives rise to unnecessary anxiety, concerns, and worries, undermining our emotional wellbeing. The reason of course is simple – negative stories generally sell better than positive ones. 

Similarly, many social media platforms spread negative news, fake news and extreme views and opinions. This negatively biased content impacts our perspective about what is real and heightens our perceived threat level towards the world around us. Some platforms also encourage unhealthy peer-group comparisons that leave people feeling they are inferior, unsuccessful, or missing out. Taking a break from this negativity and refocusing your time on positive experiences (e.g., reading, learning a new skill or starting a new hobby) and people will enable you to build a positive and healthy mindset.    

Finally, remember that a happy life also requires a healthy diet and regular exercise so don’t forget to include these in your list of goals for 2022. Wishing you all a happy, successful, and healthy 2022.      

We asked our Marketing Lead, Elsa Baptista, a few questions so you can get to know her better.

What is the biggest highlight of your working life?

I would have to say being hired to work at TalentPredix™. It’s my first real job and I found my true passion, which is working in Marketing and Social Media. The team is also amazing and incredibly supportive.

What does great talent management mean to you?

To me, great talent management is ensuring employees’ wellbeing always comes first. Whether it is physical, psychological or social wellbeing, I believe great talent management is giving employees the opportunity to use their natural skills to do what makes them truly happy. 

Who has inspired you most in your career?

My parents played a really big role in my career, but in different ways. My father has always challenged me to go beyond my limits and take risks, whilst my mother has continuously given me advice and support throughout my professional path. I believe much of what I’ve accomplished so far could not have been done without them.

What energizes you most about your work?

Creating visual content is the part of my work that energizes me most. I love taking ideas, words and images, and combining them together in a visually appealing way. I also like managing our social media because it keeps me on top of current trends and recent news, allowing me to communicate our message to the public.

How do you relax outside work?

When I’m not working, you can probably find me doing some type of physical activity. I enjoy going out for walks, especially when the sun’s out, and spending time with my friends and family (even if it has to be done online).

What do you like most about working at TalentPredix™?

Out of the many great aspects of working at TalentPredix™, I believe flexibility is my favourite. We have a very supportive environment that allows me to do my work autonomously whilst also being able to collaborate with other team members. I also like how comfortable I feel sharing my ideas with the team and how everyone’s input is valued.

Being motivated does not mean the same as motivation. We cannot fool ourselves into feeling motivated with the ‘fake it till we make it’ approach. We need to actually feel intrinsically motivated for long term achievement.

Commonplace ideas around motivation actually do not work for long term habit building. This is the ‘psych myself up’ sort of motivation where you listen to motivational speeches in the morning or look at your vision board.

All types of motivation are not the same and they were not created equal.

Extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is classically what we think of when we think about “motivation”. It is often associated with rewards and recognition, but in essence, it is any reason we do the work other than the joy, or satisfaction, of doing the work itself. Anything we promise ourselves for doing the work or anything that we get as a result of doing the work are all extrinsic motivators.

Conversely, intrinsic motivation refers to the activities you do because you enjoy the activity itself, or feel it’s important. It’s intrinsic to the work and it is for the love of it. When you are intrinsically motivated you do the work because it is internally satisfying. You would do it even if they didn’t pay you. It is the feeling of being in flow or feeling driven without the need for external motivators.

Honestly, how many times have you succeeded in your goals when trying to force yourself to do something you are not intrinsically motivated to do? Compare that with how many times you have succeeded in something you did, just because you loved it. Don’t get me wrong, extrinsic motivation is not bad; it is simply a poor driver for sustained effort and success. Without this sustained effort, you will not form long-lasting good habits.

Be motivated to do what you love

Think about a time you tried to psych yourself up for something you didn’t really want or did not feel intrinsically motivated to do. Perhaps you even went through the effort of making a vision board or setting smart goals. Maybe it worked the first time or for a week but I can almost guarantee that it did not work for you in the long term and may actually cause more harm than good. All you are doing is fostering a dependence on a temporary and unsustainable emotional state. The next time you have a bad day you will fail because you cannot psych yourself up to do the thing. There will always be bad days and you will still need to make the effort in order to succeed.

While writing this I am reminded of the Mark Twain quote “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If you can find what your intrinsic motivations are and find a role or career that ticks those motivation boxes, then you will probably start to feel more motivated, energized and in flow than you have before. 

A good career drivers or motivations assessment can help you figure out what your biggest intrinsic motivators are to help guide you in your future career path.

Most medium and large organizations use psychological assessment tests (incl. ability and personality testing), principally for hiring, and this figure is expected to climb to almost 90% in the coming years (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2015). Using assessment techniques to support talent development and organizational change applications (e.g., to support re-organization and reskilling in response to digitization of work), is also increasingly common. Assessments are also being deployed by organizations seeking to improve the diversity of their recruitment and talent pipelines. They use these tests as additional data sources rather than replying purely on traditional selection techniques like CV screens and behavioural interviews that are prone to subjectivity, rater error and unconscious bias. 

It is not just the popularity of assessments and range of applications that is changing. Rapid technological advances, changing client requirements and a more digitally-curious HR profession means that the type of assessments is changing fast. Many assessments are decades old and have changed very little since the early part of the last century. Using them is equivalent to using a legacy mainframe to calculate your household budget rather than using the latest app on your smartphone or tablet. So what does the future of assessment hold in this digital age we are entering?

Some of the most important trends are:

The rapid adoption of new technologies  

New technologies offer innovative breakthroughs in the way we assess people. Mobile technologies, including smart devices and tablets, are likely to replace PCs and laptops as the most common way of undertaking assessments moving forward. This presents some formidable challenges in terms of ensuring standardised test conditions, especially with regard to ability tests for selection purposes. However, companies are moving ahead regardless to incorporate these cost-effective and candidate-friendly technologies into their testing processes.  

Traditional surveys are giving ways to new, more engaging ways of collecting and analysing data. Many of these shift the focus from proxies of behaviour (e.g., completing a survey) to measuring actual behaviour. A growing number of companies are introducing virtual reality hiring and and high-tech simulations, which enable them to see how candidates respond under pressure to challenging situations in the same way pilots are screened and trained using tough simulation exercises. This approach is, in many respects, a far more objective and robust way of measuring performance and potential, particularly in high pressure, changeable or unpredictable situations.

Computer-based artificial intelligence (AI) is also being introduced by some companies like HireVue to help minimize subjectivity in decision making, especially when collecting and analysing interview data. With a growing number of tech companies offering smart interview recording and analysis technologies, including video screening via laptops and smart devices, this is a trend we predict will grow significantly.  

Gamification of tests measuring a wide range of abilities, including thinking styles, verbal and numerical reasoning and interpersonal styles, is growing in popularity too. This approach has the advantage of improving the candidate experience and minimizing bias in measurement caused by factors such as test anxiety which can occur when using more traditional tests. 

However, games-based assessment is not without critics who argue that psychometric rigour is sometimes compromised in order to engage candidates in a fun, immersive experience. Of course, this type of assessment is also relatively expensive to design, test and implement so adoption remains limited.  

User experience is paramount

We now live in a world where end user experience is paramount and this applies to the world of online assessments as much as it does to any other online solution we consume. Many assessments are still long, cumbersome and dull to complete. They rarely provide a rich ongoing user experience following test completion with no or little link to development and ongoing performance improvement. 

In a world of immersive digital experiences and increasingly short attention spans, assessment designers will need to offer shorter, more focused assessments using more engaging approaches such as game-based assessments, interactive rating formats, and virtual or augmented reality technology. This means they will also need to work out how best to combine psychometric rigour with highly engaging formats, as these two aims are not easy to reconcile.

Understanding peak performance 

A much sharper focus on productivity gains (doing more with less) and building a work culture of excellence will accelerate the move away from measuring ‘normal’ ranges of behaviour and performance to predicting qualities driving peak performance such as strengths, talents and motives. By continuing to focus on measuring how a ‘typical person’ behaves at work and applying competencies to try to standardise behaviour across large groups of leaders or employees, we miss an opportunity to fully understand and unlock peak performance.

Zooming in on diversity and uniqueness 

A related trend will be a shift away from pigeon-holing personality and ability into broad, oversimplified categories, e.g., “extroverts versus introverts”, as a way to understand and predict behaviour. For example, according to MBTI, people can be classified in one of 16 character preferences and most behaviour can be explained by their type. Insights Discovery does something similar by assigning people one of 4 main colours (e.g., “sunshine yellows” are warm, expressive types) which are supposed to explain most behaviour at work. 

This view of human behaviour at work is seductively simple and although MBTI and Insights can be effective in helping people gain a basic understanding of how they and their co-workers typically approach tasks, make decisions and relate to others, their value is limited. They fail to take account of the vast range of differences that make us unique, including the strengths, talents and different ways in which we achieve our results. 

Oversimplified personality assessments also don’t take account of the complex and fast-changing person-situation interaction effects evident in today’s organizations. Assessments can better account for these by ensuring employees get 360-degree feedback on how their qualities and behaviours are perceived by co-workers and other stakeholders, including measuring how their strengths and behaviour play out in times of rapid change and stress. 

Another major force accelerating this trend is the changing demographics of our workforce. Millennials coming into the workplace want their individuality and unique talents to be valued, appreciated and developed from the get-go. Any assessment that labels or pigeon-holes them too narrowly can quickly undermine their sense of identity, value and psychological engagement with the company.

Measuring learning agility and GRIT  

Businesses increasingly need agile, energized and resilient workforces in order to be nimble, competitive and adapt to increasingly turbulent markets and rapidly changing technologies. Consequently, there will be an increased focus on defining and measuring qualities like learning agility, flexibility and resilience. A related trait, GRIT (a combination of passion for a long-term goal and perseverance) is similarly receiving a lot of attention from HR professionals and business psychologists recently as it reflects what many businesses need from their people in order to remain focused and highly productive in the face of pressure and uncertainty. 

Using social media data 

In the coming decade, organizations will make increasing use of data provided on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to recruit and screen candidates. Algorithms and tools have already been developed and tested that accurately describe your personality based on your Facebook and other social media activity. The ethical and legal implications of using social media ‘digital footprints’ in this way are already raising concerns among candidates, HR and legal professionals. Ethical considerations arising from the use of web scraping from social media to assess people were recently brought into sharp focus by the questionable personality profiling practices of Cambridge Analytica and it is highly likely that the use of such techniques will increasingly be curtailed by changes in legislation such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). 

Many assessments are unlikely to stand the test of time as we move into the new digital age. In order to future-proof their organization and achieve clear talent outcomes, HR and people leaders should experiment with some of the new tools, ensuring outdated approaches are replaced with scientifically validated, up-to-date approaches that are engaging and also pinpoint people’s uniqueness and diverse talents, as well as measuring job-based requirements.

Further reading Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2015). Ace the Assessment. Harvard Business Review, July-August.