Prioritizing People in the Age of AI

Discover Your Own Management 3.0 Path: Answer a Few Questions to Get Personalized Recommendations!

Tell us a bit about yourself, and we’ll tailor our recommendations to match your interests. Just answer a few quick questions below to get started!

Rich Fernandez

For years, companies around the world have been embracing “people-first” philosophies: the simple idea that happier employees drive better results. Lately, however, that idea is becoming more complicated.

How can companies continue to put their people first, even while embracing artificial intelligence? How will AI impact workplace philosophies – and workplace culture – in the uncertain years ahead? 

We sit down with Rich Fernandez, a pyschologist, emotional intelligence expert, former member of Google’s people team, and current CEO of SIY Global. We discuss the ongoing AI revolution, and how companies can maintain a people-first workplace, no matter what the future brings. 

Key Points

  1. AI Integration with Emotional Intelligence: Rich emphasizes that as AI takes a more significant role in business, developing emotional intelligence in the workforce is crucial for adapting to these changes.
  2. Creating Effective Teams: The BITS model is essential, with a focus on belonging, inclusion, trust, and safety to build high-performing teams.
  3. Practicing Empathic Listening: Leaders are encouraged to listen with the intention to understand, not just to respond, enhancing team communication and trust.
  4. Prioritizing People Development: Rich insists on the importance of investing in employee development to equip them with the resilience and skills needed for the ever-changing business landscape.

Learn more about Rich and SIY Global here: 

Happiness means different things to each of us. After doing extensive research, Management 3.0 founder Jurgen Appelo discovered a common thread: Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our lives in pursuit of happiness. Instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. That’s why we created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3.0.

You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps at:


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] For years, companies around the world have been embracing people first philosophies. The simple idea that happier employees drive better results. Lately, however, that idea is becoming more complicated. How can companies continue to put their people first while embracing artificial intelligence? How will AI [00:00:30] impact workplace philosophies and workplace culture in the uncertain years ahead?

Today, we speak with a CEO and emotional intelligence expert about that uncertainty and how companies can maintain a people first workplace no matter what the future brings.

Before we dive in, you are listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3point0, where we are getting serious about happiness.[00:01:00]

I’m your host, Elisa Tuijnder, Happiness Enthusiast and Management 3point0 team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated and productive at work. So that loving your job becomes the norm and not the exception.

We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune [00:01:30] in and subscribe. wherever you get your podcasts.

Hello and welcome to Happiness at Work. Our guest today is Rich Fernandes, a CEO of SIY Global, a science centered emotional intelligence training program. He’s also an expert in psychology and a former member of the people team at Google. So thank you so much for joining us today, Rich. [00:02:00]

Rich Fernandez: Very

Elisa Tuijnder: happy

Rich Fernandez: to be here, Lisa.

Thank you.

Elisa Tuijnder: Great. I’m so excited to talk to you today. And, uh, but before we get started, we always start with the same question, and that is what does happiness mean to you?

Rich Fernandez: Oh, only that question. Uh, it’s, it’s a small

Elisa Tuijnder: one, right?

Rich Fernandez: Actually, you know, I have a clear sense for my own self at least, uh, because for me, happiness is really a personal state.

of well being and fulfillment.

Elisa Tuijnder: That’s short and to the point. Yeah. [00:02:30] Yeah.

Rich Fernandez: I mean, if you click in, double click, as they say on the word well being or the word fulfillment, there’s a lot underneath that, right? So well being is of course, mental and emotional relationship based. It’s, um, social and financial and many, many things.

But overall, I would say that personal state of well being as well as fulfillment, that is happiness to me.

Elisa Tuijnder: Amazing. So on the podcast, we also always like to get to know the people we’re talking to a little bit. So I just want to [00:03:00] kind of hear a bit about your story. So you’ve had an interesting career path, you know, actually have a PhD in psychology from Columbia University.

What led you into the world of business and specifically in the realm of emotional intelligence? I feel emotional intelligence aligns a little bit more with the psychology track, but yeah, this big business, how did you get there? Was it intentional?

Rich Fernandez: It was very intentional. And I like to say that I took the scenic route in my career.

I’ve traveled to many organizations, many different disciplines, [00:03:30] but I do have a PhD in psychology. And, you know, my motivation for getting that is that I’ve always been a student of human nature. And as I dove deeper into psychology, what really interested me, um, was the discipline that I trained in. I kind of had a dual track of counseling psychology, um, and and Organizational Psychology.

Um, so that’s sort of the specialty of my PhD. And, um, what interested me about that was the application of psychology to develop the [00:04:00] potential of people and organizations. So that’s a little bit different than classical psychology, which tends to be a little more clinical in nature. Right? It’s more about remediation than potentiation.

So I was interested in potentiation. Um, so I started to specialize in my studies, uh, on adult career development, uh, which eventually led to an interest in leadership. And so when I finished my PhD, I went to work for a couple of large banks, JP [00:04:30] Morgan Chase, Bank of America, not as a banker, but supporting bankers and specifically supporting bankers in leadership roles.

So I was in the learning and leadership development function, uh, in those organizations and internally as part of the people team there are really helping them think about climate, culture, values, and leadership, uh, effectiveness. Eventually, uh, moved over to the technology space and, uh, went to work for eBay where I ran the [00:05:00] function of, um, learning and development at eBay.

And then eventually went over to Google and ran executive education, which is senior leader development. I think the common thread through all of that, Elisa, is that idea of helping people in leadership roles potentiate their skills and impact that they have.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, being the best that they can at what they’re doing.

Yeah, I’m always interested in like

Rich Fernandez: what’s the potential, what’s the possibility, where’s the runway for you [00:05:30] to deepen and grow your skills, develop. It’s a really a development mindset or a growth mindset orientation as opposed to like I said, remediation and clinical.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Psychology is a broad field.

I’m very interested in positive psychology, which has hence the happiness at work. I’m guessing it’s the other side here for me. Yeah, it’s a broad field and we can take so much from it in all these roles, especially within leadership. Um, and then you became CEO of SIO Global. Is that when, when did you kind of leave Google?

How did you move into that [00:06:00] one? How could you serve even more people

Rich Fernandez: there? Absolutely. And it has to do with actually the second part of your previous question, which was, you know, how do you mix this, this, this interest in, in human potential in, in emotional intelligence with business? Cause those two, uh, may be at odds at times in people’s minds.

Actually, I don’t think they are. I think that’s a false binary. Um, I think that, um, in order to be effective in business, you have to have emotional intelligence. Let’s just define the [00:06:30] terms here in the beginning so that we can just continue. We really use the classic model of emotional intelligence, um, originally articulated by Salovey and Mayer out of Yale University, eventually made very widespread and known by Daniel Goleman, who wrote the book, Emotional Intelligence, um, and helped us create, um, some of our curriculum, but really it is four domains.

The personal domain, which is self awareness and self management. The ability to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, impulses, intuitions, and then [00:07:00] managing them so that they don’t overwhelm you or rule you, but you can be choiceful about them. So on the personal side, self awareness, self management, and then the interpersonal aspect of emotional intelligence is social awareness and then relationship management.

So, self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship management. That is such a fundamental operating principle for leaders that it is highly relevant in business. Business is built on a set of [00:07:30] relationships. Um, now, I don’t want anyone listening to get the impression that I don’t believe that’s, that technical and functional skills are important.

They’re absolutely critical. They’re kind of foundational and threshold skills, actually. But if you only have technical and functional skills, Without emotional intelligence, you really won’t be as effective as you could be and actually need to be in the role of leadership. So, how did that come back to my story of coming [00:08:00] to Search Inside Yourself, leaving Google, and so forth?

Well, a funny thing happened at Google when I was there, right? So, which is that it became very clear to us that many of the employees at Google, especially, well, a lot of the engineers at Google, let’s, let me just say that, um, were not aware. that working with other humans was in the job description.

Elisa Tuijnder: But it was needed, yeah.

It was needed, actually. What? I have to work with other people? I didn’t

Rich Fernandez: come here to work with people, you know. [00:08:30] And so that four problem set was one that we sought to address. And we knew that the way we do it was take a science based, research based, neuroscience based approach to the development of skills that have to do with people.

Therefore, what we eventually were able to do is say, look, we can develop that set of skills. It’s a type of intelligence. It’s called emotional intelligence. It has to do with yourself and others. Let’s have at it. And there’s a scientific basis for it in our [00:09:00] neurobiology, which we can point to skills practices that can develop.

So emotional intelligence is actually a skill. And like all skills, you can develop it. Um, and so I became an early teacher of that work. Uh, my colleague, Chad Mentang, was really developing the curriculum. He was an early Google engineer. I wrote the book, authored the book, Search Inside Yourself. I joined, um, shortly thereafter and was one of the first teachers of this curriculum together with May.

scaling this at Google, and it was wildly popular [00:09:30] because it was a set of skills people could develop. They did see measurable changes in their behaviors and the impact they had on others, the impact others reported of them, which was great, and then it kind of started to go viral externally. And, um, we got a lot of requests from other organizations to offer this, um, these trainings to, to their employees.

So the origin story is that then we talked to our boss, who was the head of HR at the time, uh, Laszlo Bock, essentially [00:10:00] got permission to spin off a separate non profit educational institute, uh, called, uh, the, Well, the whole curriculum, the whole platform is called search, like Google search, Inside Yourself.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, Inside Yourself. Yeah, exactly. Yourself, kind of

Rich Fernandez: cute, you know, googly. And then so we got the permission to create the separate institute, which we call the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. And if you’re listening and hearing that set of words, search inside yourself, Leadership Institute.[00:10:30]

You might think, that’s a long title. Long title. So what’s the acronym? And you might think, isn’t the acronym silly? Isn’t it literally silly? S I Y L I. Don’t you pronounce that silly? Yes, we do pronounce it silly. So we were the silly, you know, Leadership Institute. Um, kind of a joke, but, but actually we, uh, had operated for 10 years and are still operating.

And in 60 countries around the world, you know, trained and certified 600, over 600 teachers delivering this curriculum in many, many different [00:11:00] companies. And then eventually, um, spun off a separate for profit entity about a year and a half ago, which is SIY Global, which I run today. It’s the for profit entity that primarily focuses on delivering these tools in a B2B setting to mid to large size businesses.

So that’s a kind of the scenic route. Like I said, my career really started with this interest in human development and potential, and then all the way led to bringing these [00:11:30] Uh, human centric skills of emotional intelligence to business leaders at Google and beyond.

Elisa Tuijnder: One of the things that I, when you were talking that popped into my head of what made me interested was how did you make it measurable?

How did you showcase this ROI? Cause you said there was immediately like you saw potential and that’s why it all spun off in all these different directions. But how did you make that measurable? How did you showcase it?

Rich Fernandez: Yeah, well, you know, we always had pre post metrics. Um, and then in some of our client organizations, they tie [00:12:00] it to things like employee engagement, um, trust and leadership.

So the idea being that prior to receiving this type of training compared to after receiving this training, Are there changes in your resilience, in your ability to focus, to be engaged in your role, to communicate, to collaborate, to develop more trust, um, to overall be engaged in your role? And, uh, there are measurable statistically significant changes.

I think our sample set is [00:12:30] approaching 20, 000 people now. We’ve trained probably a quarter of a million people. In the last 12 years. So we have a pretty large sample size with statistically significant results pre post. Um, and those are our own results, right? From our own, um, offerings. And then there’s all of the industry research that says, you know, I think there was a study from great places to work that companies that have highly engaged employees and, um, where wellbeing is high, um, and are considered great places to work outperform other companies.

They have greater. [00:13:00] Cumulative returns. Over the last 20 years by a factor of three. Um,

Elisa Tuijnder: yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of good numbers out there at the moment.

Rich Fernandez: The ROI numbers, some of the external research, when you put it together and you present it to the stakeholders, um, and then in terms of ROI, you know, like this is a public domain published study of one of our biggest customers is, is a German software company.

Um, German multinational, and we know that their trust in leadership and their employee engagement goes up when [00:13:30] people take this set of programs called Search Inside Yourself. Right now we’ve trained over 16, 000. SAP employees, and every one point increase in engagement or well being represents literally tens of millions of euros in operating profit.

And there’s, you did an internal study. So we make the case through the business that matter.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. Yeah. There’s so many spinoffs of it that sometimes it’s hard to take it all with me, you know, the attrition rate, the well being of your colleagues and everything. [00:14:00] The fact that they’re more engaged, but also more experimental and that they’re kind of coming up with new ideas that they might’ve never come up with because they’re feeling more comfortable and they’re feeling more happy within their places.

And yeah, there’s so many things that you can’t almost put into data that should be showcased as well. As long as

Rich Fernandez: the data, as long as the results indicate the movement on that. So innovation is one. We see greater innovation. Thank you.

Elisa Tuijnder: That was the, that was what I was looking for. Innovation. Hey, I wanted to ask as well, because like, you know, we spoke a [00:14:30] lot about emotional intelligence.

Do you equate emotional intelligence or how do you see emotional intelligence kind of dovetail with people first management in general?

Rich Fernandez: Well, you know, the idea of people first management, um, it’s kind of a catch all phrase, right? For all these,

Elisa Tuijnder: yeah.

Rich Fernandez: Yeah. Human, human centered leadership. Um, that’s really the expression that I like to use.

And emotional intelligence. operationalizes human centric leadership. It operationalizes it. So, um, when [00:15:00] we talk about human centric leadership, we’re talking about things like helping leaders develop trust, develop empathy, develop resilience, because it’s hard to be a leader, so they have to manage themselves, as I said, um, develop agility for themselves and their team, um, self awareness, emotional health, stress management, you name it.

Right? Um, and this applies both for the leaders themselves as people, because you can’t give what you don’t have as a leader. [00:15:30] And so you have to have your own set of human centric skills and practices in order to be able to pass that on to your team. And so what we do is we take a skill based approach to human centric leadership.

Leadership, Emotionally Intelligent Leadership. And emotional intelligence is a subset of human centric leadership, of people first leadership, but it really is the fuel. It’s what operationalizes it. Because like I said, it has to do with your own self, the personal dimension, self awareness, self management, self [00:16:00] care, and then the interpersonal, which is the social awareness and relationship management.

When you can put those foundational building blocks in place, then you can have people first or human centric leadership.

Elisa Tuijnder: Have you got any, um, I mean, you’ve got this illustrious career and then you’ve worked with all these different companies. Is there one, uh, tangible example kind of that stands out for you where they, where they started using these methodologies and started shifting towards the people first, um, mindset and, and they kind of changed the people [00:16:30] inside of it, but also the company and maybe their business outcomes.

Is there one that really stands out for you?

Rich Fernandez: I’m curious. Let’s talk about the research based model, which is. We, I was at Google when we actually did a study. Of what makes the most effective team and makes the highest performing, most innovative, most effective team. And like I said earlier, the threshold skills of having domain expertise, executing to a high degree, all very important.

Of course, those were in the top five, [00:17:00] but do you know what the number one quality of an effective team was? This is called Project Aristotle. So some of you listening might’ve seen this cause it was published publicly. Um, but the number one element of an effective team. is psychological safety.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, that was going to be my first guess, but there was so many other things.


Rich Fernandez: I know you were thinking there. I could hear you.

Elisa Tuijnder: I’m also working at it every day, all day, right? So it’s [00:17:30] like, okay, it could be this, but it could probably also be that. But yeah, psychological safety is super important, right?

Rich Fernandez: You know, um, take big risks to, to innovate, um, to test, to experiment, but also to fail. And the point of it is not to fail. Of course, you want a successful experiment, but failure will happen as you innovate.

And so it’s a question of, is there the capacity for the team to experiment, to be innovative, to try different things? To [00:18:00] fail sometimes, but to learn from that failure and that culture of innovation and safety is something that leaders are responsible for creating because culture largely comes from the leaders and the leadership of a team or organization.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely, absolutely. What is it for you to think that is the one thing that really creates psychological safety? Is it leading by example? Is it putting the right parameters in place? Is it the culture that permeates through? Is [00:18:30] it living it through and through? All of these things are probably important.

I’m just trying to get one thing out of that.

Rich Fernandez: You should ask. This is exactly what we love to talk about. This is what we teach in our programs. We actually have a program called effective teaming and the model is that we Um, it’s also because we’ve looked at the research, what are the component elements of psychological safety?

And we actually call it the BITS model, B I T S, BITS. So leaders need to create a sense of belonging, inclusion, trust, [00:19:00] and that leads to safety at the bottom, the S, right? So belonging, inclusion, trust. So what does that mean? Belonging, making sure everybody has a sense that their voice matters. BITS. That some aren’t being dismissed and some others are being, you know, validated and others didn’t, but everybody’s voice matters and you can be very intentional about this as a leader.

It’s a skill. I’ll give you one small example in terms of belonging. Oftentimes we have groupthink in teams, right? Like we’re all thinking one [00:19:30] way and we’re all in this box. Well, it’s sometimes hard to think outside the box when you’re in the box, but guess what? Some team members may be thinking outside of the box.

So ask, include them, when you’re coming to, like, a consensus on an idea, actually pause and say, Now, can I hear some dissenting or different perspectives? Does somebody else have a contrary view to this? Because it seems like everybody’s in agreement here, but what are we not thinking about? Can I please hear that [00:20:00] from you all?

So as a leader, this is what I mean. You create the tone, you create the environment in which those voices are welcome. That’s a sense of belonging. Inclusive is then recognizing the contributions of others deliberately and equitably. And then trust is, and we have a whole equation around trust, but it essentially has to do with you being vulnerable as a leader, being aware, being vulnerable, and then using and modeling what it means to work with purpose.

You take those elements, belonging, inclusion, trust, [00:20:30] and, and you get safety.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. I was wondering, because the podcast that is coming out this Friday is about reteaming and the way that people are doing it certainly now, sometimes really fast, but in a matter of hours or a matter of a few weeks of working together.

Also, because then you don’t have these echo chambers all the time. So wondered how, you know, you worked in Google around this, how is it for you, a team, is that somebody, does that take a long time to build trust? Do they have to go through the norming, forming, storming phases, or can that be on the fly, can that be quite agile as well?

[00:21:00] Cause you know, we all talk constantly about how teams need to be more agile, how they need to adapt to all these pressures outside. So I wanted to get your take on that.

Rich Fernandez: I think, um, I, so the answer is yes. Teams go through, I think, uh, developmental stages and that well documented, um, model and performing, um, is something that happens, but you can rapid cycle that.

And I think you can do it by, uh, I’m just going to go back to that same model because we’ve seen it over and over the BITS model, right? When you create a [00:21:30] long relationship and especially trust. You kind of have to have all of like, you can’t have trust if you’re not creating a sense of belonging and inclusion, or you can have what you’ll get is trust with some members, but not the others.

If you want the whole team to perform and rapid cycle that performing stage from norming and storming, um, then you have to have the bits. You have to have belonging and trust is also where emotional intelligence comes in because you as a leader have to model what trust [00:22:00] is. You have to be willing to be aware and vulnerable.

about your own challenges, perhaps, and about what’s inspiring and motivating you, and help influence and direct the team around purpose. So awareness, vulnerability, purpose, those are the elements of, um, something we call the trust equation.

Elisa Tuijnder: So

Rich Fernandez: building trust can allow a team to very quickly perform, to be agile, to pivot as needed, because everyone is going together.

It’s what I call the same team [00:22:30] mindset. Everybody works. Together in an aligned way towards the same goal rather than working apart and against sometimes each other. Same team mindset. And that’s what trust enables as well as belonging and inclusion.

Elisa Tuijnder: What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy? Happiness means different things to each of us. Yet after [00:23:00] doing extensive research, Management 3point0 founder Juergen Appelow discovered the common thread. Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our times in pursuit of happiness. Yet instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. We created the 12 [00:23:30] Steps to Happiness at Management 3point0. You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 Steps at management3o.


Hey, one of the other reasons why we were really excited to talk to you is because we wanted to talk a little bit about AI as well, that we felt like you were a perfect person coming from a psychology background, but then being engrossed in this world of fast tech. So [00:24:00] it’s, it’s getting a little bit more complicated and everybody has their own opinion, but I’m curious to see how you view the future of artificial intelligence in the world of business.

Is this new tool going to enhance our lives? Is this going to make us better? Thank you Is it a game changer, or are we on our right to be slightly fearful of it as well?

Rich Fernandez: Yeah, so your question is in business, so I’ll stick to business. Let’s do

Elisa Tuijnder: business first, yeah.

Rich Fernandez: I think there’s a bigger question as to whether it will like, you know, like extinguish us as a species, so I’ll leave that conversation to, you know, the [00:24:30] futurists and the, you know, science fiction.

Um, you know, thought leaders and so forth, uh, or science fact, actually. Um, but I’m going to come back to the world of business and in the world of business, I would say that actually it is a positive development, um, and a, a, a challenging, but a positive development. And as I like to do, I don’t like to just say things as supposition.

I like to ground it in some data. And so I’m going to just refer a little bit here to the world economic. Forum report, the future of jobs report, May, 2023. So it just [00:25:00] came out, right? So one of the things they found in their survey of thousands and thousands of companies around the world is that more than 75 percent of companies are going to be adopting AI cloud, big data automation, more than 75 percent of companies for sure.

So that it’s happening. That’s not even like, will this happen is it is happening. Um, and, uh, About 44 percent of workers skills are going to be disrupted. Right? It’s going to change the game. [00:25:30] I think you used the word, is this going to be a game? It is going to be a game changer. It could also be net positive.

One thing that’s also net positive, surprisingly, in this future of jobs report, um, is that over the next five years they believe that there will be a net positive job creation. With AI and automation. Now you’re like, wait, aren’t we hearing that? Where are they going

Elisa Tuijnder: to come from?

Rich Fernandez: Yeah. Some people are gonna lose their jobs or what I would rather say, you know, I’m not trying to exactly, I would say reskill.

I’m not [00:26:00] trying to sugarcoat because losing a job is overall for almost everybody, a very difficult and challenging. Um, and painful experience. However, the jobs that will be created are going to be re skilling. Um, the top five skills that are going to be needed acquiring to the World Economic Forum in the next five years, analytical thinking, okay, creative thinking, so that’s a human people first skill.

AI and big data skills, technical skill. And then there’s three other ones, leadership, social influence, resilience, flexibility, and [00:26:30] agility. Those are people centric, human centric skills that involve emotional intelligence. Um, and so in the world of AI, as AI comes into 75 percent of companies, these skills are going to be important.

Emotional intelligence is going to be more relevant than ever. And I was trying to think of like an example. So this isn’t just like. Uh, not only research, but like my, my hypotheses about that research, what actually happened in the world when we had a disruptive technology. And I was thinking about the world of marketing.[00:27:00]

Um, you can imagine before the internet marketing was largely PR, ad copy, creative driven, content driven, right. Before the internet. And then the internet comes and people are like, Oh my God, people aren’t going to Uh, you know, marketing anymore because there’s this intermediation. We can directly access everything we need from the internet, right?

We don’t need someone to tell us what to get and buy. Were we wrong about that? We were dead wrong about that. [00:27:30] Yeah.

Elisa Tuijnder: It just became more

Rich Fernandez: important, right? Important, right? Internet marketing, you need, you know, there’s whole specialists, SEM, SEO, you know. Conversion, affiliate marketing, social media influencers, like whole industries came because of that disruptive technology that we thought was going to kill, you know, this particular industry.

Elisa Tuijnder: Billboards. But they’re still there as well. The billboards. They’re still there. So

Rich Fernandez: I think AI will be an assistive technology where, in [00:28:00] essence, we will be freed up to In certain aspects, right? So you use the word reskilling or upskilling of the workforce. I think that’s part of the future. That’s part of what the World Economic Forum is saying as well.

And then central to that reskilling and upskilling is emotional intelligence. So EI is more relevant than ever in a world of increasing AI.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I absolutely love using ChatGPT at the moment. Like [00:28:30] it’s like my, my personal writing buddy, my personal assistant. And I think my writing has gotten better because of it and not because I’m just copy pasting.

I’m just kind of sparring and thinking and enhancing. It’s like having a very, very, very well secretary or or, or personal

Rich Fernandez: personal assistant. Yeah. . It’s an assistive, like I said, it’s an assistive technology that perhaps helps you actually be more productive, helps you be, you know, write more, write more effectively, quicker, et cetera.

So, um, [00:29:00] exactly, essentially how I see it in business especially

Elisa Tuijnder: and, and how that evolves in the future is yet to be seen how far it can take it. But for now, I’m, I’m . It is still my buddy. You

Rich Fernandez: ever see that movie Her?

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I have,

Rich Fernandez: yeah. Right, so like, basically that was an AI that replaced, you know, his relationship life, right, and became his partner.

And, um, he fell in love with it, um, until he discovered that that same AI was in a relationship with like [00:29:30] 2, 600 other people. And it was sort of like this existential moment. So that’s how it can go really wrong. That’s not assistive, that’s replacement technology, um, and it’s replacing the human and that will never, in a place where a human should not be replaced.

So I think. The bigger question about the world is one we still have to address. You’re getting a lot of things about we need to do policy. Absolutely. You know, I’ve heard leaders come together in forums, leaders of AI companies with government officials. That’s a whole other domain. [00:30:00] But in the world of business, mostly what I would think about is an assistive technology and then the impact on the workforce will be profound and will require re skilling.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. How can we assist people in, I mean, it’s going to be a super fast time. It has already been a super fast and agile time and we’ve continuously had to adopt. Uh, how are we, how are we helping people in the workforce from a people first approach initiative? How can we help them the best in this, in this tumultuous time?

So let’s just [00:30:30] use that word.

Rich Fernandez: Well, I mean, you know, I’m. I’m entirely biased here because I’m a psychologist. I run an emotional intelligence training.

Elisa Tuijnder: It’s okay to be biased sometimes.

Rich Fernandez: Because I believe, know, see, and I’ve seen the research on the fact that emotional intelligence, resilience, Agility. These are all trainable skills.

We can rewire our brains, literally, and retrain our habit patterns to be more [00:31:00] resilient, more agile, more adaptable. Um, and it, it, like any skill, it requires specific sets of trainings and practices, and that’s what we install into our, into our offerings. And so, I think what needs to happen is that there needs to be, um, commensurate investment.

In people in organizations developing these skills at every level. So leaders, certainly, but also employees at every level. And so [00:31:30] where are the investment dollars going? If your entire investment budget is just going to. To AI and new technology, then you’re going to have a deficit on the people side because the people are not going to keep pace, they’re not going to reskill.

They’re not going to be agile and you want them to be. Also, because in order to adopt that new technology, one of the things we do, for example, is we help companies who are going through agile transformation or who are putting in significant change management initiatives. That’s a, both a [00:32:00] structural and a technology problem set that you have to solve, but it’s also a people problem set.

You have to have people having the mindsets to adopt the agile technologies. And so we, again, we train them on it. So that’s how companies can Meet the moment with people centric agenda and, and again, not seeing it as binary, not separate from the business results. In fact, the people development goes hand in hand with the business that you’re developing and growing.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. I think that’s basically our, one of our core [00:32:30] messages at Management 3point0. I think 70 percent of transformations, whether they’re agile or not, fail at the moment, purely because of the human capital couldn’t catch, wasn’t either invested and it couldn’t catch up. And then why are you investing that many dollars or effort or time into resources, into, into a project if it’s going to fail ultimately, because you’re not thinking about the human side of things.

At SIY Global, are you sort of seeing these problems already propping up, or is that, that really one of the core [00:33:00] problems? Problems that people are coming with to you at the moment, like we’re changing, we’re changing, how, how do we, how can our people catch up?

Rich Fernandez: Exactly. Um, because whether it’s agile transformation or, you know, a really quickly evolving business strategy, you know, strategies like a year out, three years at most, but then it changes, right?

Like even three years is probably too long, um, for a lot of businesses today because the world has accelerated, right? The complexity and the, um, volatility of the world. I’ve heard [00:33:30] this term used, you know, what we are in now, um, this Polish sociologist, but Simon coined this term, liquid modernity, liquid modernity.

That’s an excellent idea. You know, all of our institutions, our pattern, our ways of working, our processes are in a state of flux. They’re liquid. They’re ever changing. And in order to meet that, Whether it’s again, Agile transformation or this year’s strategy compared to last year’s strategy or huge change management initiative, it’s necessary to bring the people along and equip [00:34:00] them with the tools and the mindsets, the resilience, the agility, personally, and as teams to meet those moments of liquid modernity.

Um, and so, yeah, I think it’s, um, The moment is, is here and we, we need to meet it with these. And this is what we see all the time because customers come to us and they say, and there’s usually mid to large size companies and they literally say, you know, like we were talking yesterday to a customer who said, yeah, and we’re driving an agile transformation and that people need their own skills to be able [00:34:30] to execute against it, to deliver the agile transformation, because we have to change our mindsets to be able to work in a different way.

And we don’t know how to. Sort of take stock and to pivot, um, and so that’s the training we need from you all, which is teach them those skills, those human centric skills, those mindset and emotional intelligence skills so that they can enable this agile transformation. Um, and again, your earlier point, human capital and the investment capital in technology go hand in hand.[00:35:00]

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I completely agree. I, uh, it’s something popped into my head and I, I kind of wanted to have your opinion on it. So like a few weeks ago, I was talking to an L& D specialist that was having trouble convincing from a fairly large company here in Germany, uh, convincing the CEO on a C suite to invest in human capital because they were like, well, there is so much fluidity to use that word that if I’m investing in this person today, they’re probably not going to be around tomorrow.

How would you, how would you counter that point? How would you say like, okay. [00:35:30] This is not how that works.

Rich Fernandez: Well, I would say the dead opposite, which is if you don’t invest in this person, they certainly won’t be here tomorrow because they won’t be able

Elisa Tuijnder: to

Rich Fernandez: require the skills to meet the role. They’ll be very unhappy.

They won’t be engaged and motivated and they’re going to underperform. You have to understand the people, the processes, the strategy as almost like an investment portfolio. You have to have a balanced portfolio. You know, and so I’m just going back to that again. You have to like cross the portfolio, [00:36:00] distribute the resources so that everything is moving and nothing is like overweighted where there’s too much risk.

And cause that’s what happens when we don’t invest in people. People do change jobs quite a lot, but they change jobs a lot less if they feel invested in, engaged. And if they have a runway, a recognized. by investment in them, not just in terms of pay, but also in terms of, you know, increasing career growth and increasing skills.[00:36:30]

Um, today I was just talking to somebody who said, um, how can we ensure that this critical leader has a pathway so that they can see that they have many more developmental steps that they’ll be, um, supported in, in this organization? Because if we can do that, they’re definitely going to stay. Um, well, or I should say to be realistic, they’ll stay longer than they would otherwise.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. True. So they’ll stay for the four years. Or they might come back. Or they might come back at another point, [00:37:00] you know, and come with a wealth of new knowledge because they weren’t feeling welcomed or warmed or, you know, et cetera.

Rich Fernandez: Yeah, the other, and this is like, uh, you know, a saying that you hear a lot of people say, people need managers in our organization, right?

And so like, if as a manager and as a leader, you are demonstrating through your actions that you are investing in them, then yeah, they will probably stay longer than they would otherwise.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. I do agree with that up to a certain point, I do feel like there [00:37:30] are certain organizations that just permeate toxic world culture and, and then the direct thing might be your manager, but if it permeates throughout the organization, then they have a culture problem, not just a managerial problem.

I think

Rich Fernandez: culture comes largely from leaders, right? Stakeholders. So like, again, the need for them to become wise and emotionally intelligent as well.

Elisa Tuijnder: Hey, so you’re on the podcast. We’re super big fans of tangible practices. We’ve talked about really big [00:38:00] things, but we’ve also talked about, you know, the one thing I’m really going to take away is your, your BIT, um, framework, but are there any other things, any other strategies that you can kind of, you know, share with our listeners so that they can kind of start practicing or start thinking about small steps towards being more emotionally intelligent, uh, or people first within their organizations?

Rich Fernandez: That’s great, Elisa. Thank you. Um, there’s one thing that I’m going to share that maybe even counterintuitive because like, how does that fit in the business setting? Um, and [00:38:30] it is empathy.

Elisa Tuijnder: Super important. Yeah.

Rich Fernandez: Um, and in particular, uh, so by empathy, I mean being able to take the perspective of another person.

That’s it. Just take their perspective. Don’t be so caught up in your own thoughts and your perspective that you’re dismissing immediately somebody else’s perspective, especially important for managers and leaders, right? When you have empathy, you can demonstrate empathy, you can create more safety, more belonging, more inclusion and trust, all those [00:39:00] things we talked about.

So how do you do that? And just one small little tidbit, I would call it empathic. Empathic listening. Empathic listening. Because too often we listen, especially in the business setting, with the objective of making notes in our head and systematically refuting their points or responding to them or reacting to them.

But here’s the revolutionary, ridiculously simple, but not always easy idea to do. Empathic listening. [00:39:30] Empathic listening simply means listening with the intention to understand.

Elisa Tuijnder: And not to judge and not

Rich Fernandez: to give a rebuttal or respond, not to start to formulate arguments, blank slate. You’re talking, I’m listening with the intention to understand.

So you ask for a really small, tangible tool. If you as a manager or leader can go into one of your meetings today, after you listen to this podcast and say, now I’m talking to this person and [00:40:00] they’re now speaking, and I’m going to listen. Empathic listening with the intention to understand. Simply and only to understand, actually understand what they’re saying.

So try that out. It’s, it’s simple and surprisingly revolutionary because I find, and I’m guilty of this too, a lot, most of the time I’m listening for the sake of making my next point or, or responding or refuting or arguing or whatever it might be, so listen, empathic listening is listening with the intent to [00:40:30] understand.

Uh, so please try that out, see how it goes.

Elisa Tuijnder: Intentionality. It’s, uh, yeah, super important. I feel like that’s been my buzzword of 2023. I continuously keep talking about intentionality with people. Hey Rich, if anybody wants to get in contact with you or, uh, look at the great work you’re doing at SIY Global, where can they do that?

Where is the best way to get to you?

Rich Fernandez: Well, I’ll just come to our websites, IY, SIY, [00:41:00] and, um, all of our, you know, offerings, activities, uh, training, certifications, whatever you’re interested in, research articles, videos, other things, they’re all available there. So SIY, check it out.

Elisa Tuijnder: All right. Thank you so much for this really nice conversation. I really enjoyed it. I, uh, learned a lot and also kind of it reiterated some of the points and. Uh, I think this was a wonderful conversation. Thank you again.

Rich Fernandez: Yeah. Thank you so much, Elisa. It was a pleasure. Thanks everyone.

Elisa Tuijnder: All right. Thanks.[00:41:30]

You’ve been listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3. 0, where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review, share the happiness with your colleagues, family, or friends. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management [00:42:00] 3.

Have a listen to more of our insightful podcasts