• Rick Beaton

Do you use Google Maps when you drive through your own city?

How about when you are headed somewhere you’ve been a few times?

On Sunday I headed up to go skiing, and turned on the GPS even though I know the route by heart.

Google Maps let me know about a slowdown up ahead and recommended I take an alternate route.

Setting effective Goals is a lot like using Google Maps.

Even if you feel like you know where you’re going or have an idea of steps you need to accomplish, goal-setting creates a way to hold yourself accountable and deal with bumps in the road more easily.

Check out how we facilitate Goal-setting in Motis Grow, link in the comments below.

Updated: 5 days ago

If you’re currently working out of a small closet from home hiding from your kids and neighbors, you’ve probably also been wondering about the value of remote work. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has accelerated the change forcing our society to isolate and social distance.

Welcome to the new frontier of work.

Technological advances have made it possible for people who work with knowledge and concepts to work anytime and anywhere. We’re living during a period that is experiencing a massive redefinition and practice of work since the Industrial Revolution. Like all revolutions, outdated beliefs, practices and ideas are ruthlessly exposed and discarded. Technological advances are never neutral. There are always positive and negative impacts in the disruptions they cause. In times of such change and uncertainty, unprecedented opportunity arises to reimagine and redesign how we as a society do things. Right now, with the coronavirus tearing through our global society, remote work has become the launching pad to view our society in the future. The constant growth of faster data networks, cloud software systems and exponentially more powerful hardware is what makes this discussion possible. Unfortunately, technology alone is not enough. Organizations and how we work are fundamentally human systems. The integration of technology with human systems needs to be carefully considered and designed with research-based science about people, rather than just anecdotal experience based platitudes. As much as we design fantastic user experiences on an app, they’re just merely pixels on a screen. Organizations and employees need an updated perspective and skillset that are essential for this new way of working. Working remotely will be at the center of our future economy, and it demands that we innovate today. People don’t realize that many of our “best practices”, ideas and assessments about work, teams, culture, personality, motivation and employee engagement date back to the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1950’s and 1970’s. It’s absurd that such an important aspect of our lives relies on the outdated ideas, practices and opinions of a bygone era. Today, many researchers that use science to back their understanding of organizational psychology and human personality have invalidated many of the old tropes companies still hold on to. The Myers Briggs personality assessment is but one example of an assessment that has no real research or accuracy behind it [1]. Trying to update outdated approaches like the Myers Briggs doesn’t address the fact that they were never rooted in psychology research to begin with. The crisis in human resources is being exposed by the ongoing modernization and change of our society. How do we manage these changes so that it works for both organizations and employees? Many businesses and senior leaders have been hesitant to move towards a distributed workforce or offer remote work options. It’s because of a general suspicion about human nature. If people are not in the office, it means they aren’t really working. Hobbies, children, errands, television, sex, and video games are perceived to be too alluring. The common belief is that employees need negative pressure to achieve higher performance. The image of a hard-nosed football coach trying to motivate the team comes to mind. Employees will not produce high quality work, deliver on deadlines, put in the hours, or stay focused unless they are in the office. The list goes on. Contrary to the fear that employees take advantage of remote work, data suggests that employees can be more productive [2] and responsible with their time [3]. With the right technologies specifically designed for the new normal of remote working, software applications can track and manage increases in productivity and employees can also develop their careers and be upskilled using the same system. This creates the opportunity for technology to align the objectives of organizations, managers, and employees under a unified solution. How do we create a system optimized for remote work that also meets our desired business objectives? We start by structuring the work environment based upon insights from personality research. At the core of workforce development is the need to understand and leverage each employee’s unique personality. Imagine a hundred years ago before the time of modern, science-based medicine. We didn’t know much about human anatomy and we tended to treat every patient the same. That sameness was constructed by mostly male doctors and their mostly male research base. When the medical community realized there was a bias towards a certain kind of masculine patient, new research branched out to address the physiological, biochemistry, and genetic differences present in each of us. Today, we have specialized treatments based on our unique genetic makeup. Businesses also tend to treat people like we’re all the same. It was assumed that hard work, perseverance, and desire were the foundations of a great career. We believed that anyone could do anything. Leaders are made, not born was the mantra of the day. But research shows that it is much more nuanced that this. We are all uniquely hardwired, and part of this hardwiring is our personality. As former research academics, we understand the need to be cautious. Personality research has matured over the past century, and in a globalized, diverse, and modern society, we look for a variety of qualities when evaluating the kinds of assessments we use with our clients. First, it must be based on the most current and best quality research and theory. Next, there must exist a broad body of peer reviewed research, experimentation, and validation for that kind of assessment. Last, the assessment tool must be accurate in what it measures. It’s well known and broadly written about that the Myers Briggs personality assessment fails in all three of these accounts. And it leaves me speechless me when I hear that large organizations continue to rely on the Myers Briggs to evaluate employees in the workplace when so much is at stake. So then is there a research-based, broadly accepted assessment that delivers an understanding of what personality is, what dimensions constitute it, and what produces personality? It’s called the Big Five Personality Assessment, which analyzes someone’s personality along the five dimensions of Openness, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Neuroticism. Research has shown that we now know how personality is shaped by our neurobiology and becomes stables around our mid-twenties as our brains develop and mature.

Let’s take a look at how the Big Five work:

Our natural inclinations towards stress and emotional resilience is measured within the N dimension of Neuroticism. How our brains process sensory stimulation and recharge is measured by the E dimension of Extraversion. Whether we are out of the box creative and strategic or we value stability, routine and details is measured by the O dimension of Openness. How you display trust, altruism, kindness, affection and compassion is measured by the A dimension of Agreeableness. And finally, if you have a lot internal discipline around organization, focus or methodical or are more flexible, can shift tasks more easily and work in less organized environments is measured by the C dimension of Conscientiousness. The goal is for our work duties and career path to match our hardwiring. In doing so, we create a sustainable system that allows us to develop ourselves in parallel with our hardwiring. With so much content these days around personal development, growth and transformation, why would we want to give in to the concept of our personalities as being hardwired? The answer is Stress. Stress sensitivity is important for our society, and workplace stress disorders are at an all-time high. No amount of free company gym memberships, a fully stocked espresso bar, or mindfulness will make up for this. Each one of us are different in our sensitivity and response to stress. This dimension is subconscious and is tied to our fight and flight response, which is our sympathetic nervous system. We can’t work on it or change it. So rather than trying to worry less, it is better to change the part of our work/life that leads to worry. For example, exercise burns off about 1,500 stress chemicals in our system, and a good night’s sleep washes those stress compounds from our brains. We should strive to create an environment for working that helps us reduce our stress and work at a higher level of engagement. Creating work environments to nurture our personalities and foster our sensibilities would lead to greater productivity and higher engagement. Introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts all have differing amounts of sensory stimulation need throughout the day. Light, color, sound, smell, and motion are just some of the things that introverts, extroverts and ambiverts respond differently to. The intent is to create an environment most suited to each person’s brain naturally functions. In doing so, we’re helping to create a sustainable environment where we’ll have more energy and feel better at the end of the day. An introvert would seek to create an environment that moderates light and noise. Extroverts need more consistent stimulation in their environment. Ambiverts, who make up approximately 40% of the population, prefer to cycle between low, moderate, and high stimulation throughout the day. If your environment is opposite of what your personality is hardwired to be, then your brain is working harder than necessary and is burning off biochemical resources at a greater rate, which can quickly leave you at a deficit. The result is tiredness and if prolonged, burnout. These dimensions goes a long way in explaining why the open office concept, and it’s moderate amount of stimulation was a poor idea and has ultimately failed. It’s clear that our environment matters a great deal. And while these examples provide a glimpse into how we can craft our work environments to better suite remote work, inclusivity, engagement, and career development, we also want to mention that people vary considerably in way we are structured to work. Some have a strong internal locus of control, which means that they are naturally more self-disciplined. Others have an external locus of control, which means that they are more flexible, spontaneous, able to shift between tasks more easily, and less driven by lists or plans. For those with a higher locus of control, working remotely will find it easier. For those with a lower locus of control, they may need external support in the form of greater clarity in specific projects, outcomes, and deadlines. So how do we take advantage of our dimensions of personality to benefit career development? We start by owning our personalities and then structuring our work environment to help us be more productive and enjoy work more. Integrating work back into our private life is a valuable investment down the road. If we can pay attention to what energizes us, and manage for what drains us, we’ll have created a sustainable path to career development. When unforeseen global circumstances such as the coronavirus disrupts such a huge part of our daily lives and economy, our workforce is at the mercy of the knock-on effects. In the face of government mandated isolation for extended periods of time, many of us have asked if it’s possible that the majority of our workforce transition permanently to working remote? How will managers evaluate the growth and development of their team? How will training and upskilling proceed? How will employees receive fair reviews when much of 2020 was spent in isolation? These and many other questions raised can thankfully be addressed by technology that’s already available to us. We at Motis have created a cloud-based application called Motis Grow that brings together learning, skills/competency development and performance management into one system. Motis Grow tracks progress and milestones for employees for upskilling and provides an easy way for managers to connect with their team. Motis Grow also standardizes a person’s work history so that they can take it with them wherever they go. These are ways Motis Grow actively provides workforce solutions to a changing business world. And it’s because we come from a background of academic research in organizational psychology and career development that we understand the science behind how people grow and develop their careers. We hope that more organizations, managers, and business leaders begin to see the ways in which we can build workplace environments and structures that harmonize with how employees are hardwired to create a path towards sustainable, modern, and equitable career development.

Want to transform the way your employees experience career development?

Our cloud-based software system, Motis Grow, combines upskilling, learning management, performance management and workforce feedback into a single, elegant, and unified system. Get in touch for a demo or to for consulting.


[1] https://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947/myers-briggs-personality-test-meaningless


[2] https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2019

[3] https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/remote-work-statistics

  • Rick Beaton

The awkwardness of the Holiday Season in our polarized society has arrived. It is an important time for several religious communities who are celebrating narratives core to their identity and belief systems. As a result, our personal philosophies spill into public view and at work. We struggle with inclusion and diversity and we choose the generic greeting, “Happy Holidays.”

Holiday inclusion never used to matter for the workplace. It used to be that belief systems were relegated to our private life, but society has gradually shifted. With the late Gen-X and Millennial generational cohorts, there is a rise in the desire to live more authentically and in line with their personal belief systems. Along with this shift is the increased prominence of broader ethical concerns like sustainability, diversity and inclusion, equality in the workplace, and so forth. Our belief systems are important to us and shape “our way of being” in the world in profound ways. However, we don’t always know how to bring the two together. In the spirit of the Holiday season and being authentic, here are five old and new practices that research shows are tied to high performance. They balance out the thin, lean, efficient, KPI focus that can be too transactional. All five are demonstrated in evidence found in ancient philosophical and sacred texts. They are also validated in current positive and social psychology, as well as neuroscience research. These practices are aspirational, worth cultivating and form the foundation of great societies, families, organizations and people.

1. Gratitude

Gratitude begins with the awareness that things could be considerably worse for us. We all have been afforded opportunities, advantages, successes and failures big and small that add up to the goodness in our life. Positive psychology tends to focus on the inward state and impacts of gratitude. Alternatively, I want to draw attention to the expression of gratitude as an external act to those around us. At work, it’s the expression of gratitude that is powerful. People respond positively when they are aware that their hard work, engagement and going beyond what is minimally expected is seen. Two simple words, thank you, are the acknowledgement of it. By saying thank you, we are saying I see you, I am grateful for what you give of yourself to make our organization what it is. I’m shocked by how little I hear these words—particularly from senior leaders. I frequently have leaders push back, as though simply paying people for the work they do is enough. As a leader, I feel privileged that I have such great people working with me. The fact that employees, customers, vendors, and advisors give so much of their life and talent to move our organization forward is humbling. Honestly, I couldn’t do it without them. It’s considerably more than a mere transaction. Saying thank you is a reflection of our relationship, their value and my gratitude. (To read more see The Greater Good at UC Berkeley https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good)

2. Generosity

When the topic of being generous arises, we typically think of sharing material assets or money. This isn’t surprising given the wealth creation of the past century. In a manner similar to gratitude, researchers focus much on the potential rewards for the individual and their inward state (happiness, less depression, etc.). Generosity is a much larger topic, however, and involves more than just giving a few bucks away and feeling better as a result. In its pure form, generosity has no quid pro quo—which I find ubiquitous in the business world—We instead give with no expectation of return or influence. Gratitude is rooted in a profound sense that we are stewards of the various forms of capital we possess. The old saw, it is better to give than receive is remarkably accurate. Yet, leaders, employees and organizations can take on the quality of being stingy, cheap and lacking in generosity. In such a busy, hectic world, I have come to realize that the giving of our time is the most valuable gift we can offer. Providing introductions from our social network, agreeing to meet with people outside our usual network or social class, are all forms of generosity. Rather than a singular action, generosity can become a way of life and even a part of our daily organizational practices.

3. Humility

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins identifies humility as a key component of a level 5 leader (the highest performing in his system) We agree. Humility is one of the most misunderstood and essential elements in building high performing teams and organizations. Not surprisingly, humility is a tough sell in today’s environment. In a world of padded resumes, overstating accomplishments and experiences, self-promotion, fake it ‘til you make it practices, humility doesn’t stand much of a chance. Humility is a reflection of someone who is comfortable in their own skin, is on the road to self-awareness, knows their strengths and weaknesses and most importantly, owns them. Humility is a quality of being vulnerable, being seen and known for who you really are—no more, no less. It is accompanied by a profound sense of how great the world around us is, how much we don’t know, and how far we have to go in our own development and growth. The way this quality shows up in the workplace is an openness to new learning, an acknowledgment of our need of others on the team, and a profound awareness that we can’t do it alone. Organizations that share this quality are improving, learning, growing, innovating.

4. Empathy

Empathy has received a lot of attention of late. It is another old idea and an essential element for relationships of any kind. The fact that there is so little empathy in today’s society isn’t that surprising; given the way we have used our resources to shield ourselves from adversity and the experiences of others in our world. Pity is not the same as empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and experiences of another person. If we have the ability to empathize, we understand our team, employees, clients and vendors at a much deeper level. We can then positively shape and improve their experience, performance and outcomes. The problem is that talks or trainings on their own will not produce true empathy. We have to be willing to remove the fences that keep us apart and enter the world of the other to truly understand and be changed. We have learned much about the brain, our individual capacities and empathy over the past fifty years. If you’re interested in learning more perhaps start here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/the-neuroscience-empathy

5. T/truth

The notion of truth with a capital T has taken a battering over the past few decades. We have recognized the fact that individual perspective can profoundly shape how we see and understand the world. Yet, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far in the opposite direction where opinion and conjecture masquerade as truth. This is particularly true in organizations and people-oriented consulting. In his wonderful little book, Factfulness, Hans Rosling makes the argument for being open to new learning and change when presented with quality data and verifiable facts. Truth is a quest, as we learn more, the more we need to change with what we learn. The challenge for us all is to remain open to change in light of the new and to hold ideas, practices and behaviors lightly. Otherwise, the outdated ideas and practices that don’t survive the test of research and scientific inquiry will linger. Frankly, it is why so many older white male leaders are struggling at this time. The world has changed and their beliefs, practices and way of being are not in step. #okboomer and #okmillennial are part of this process. It is easy for people and organizations to become static, stuck in time and want to blame others or the broader environment. There will always be friends, advisors, consultants, leaders, who are invested in the old, outdated ways to reinforce their viewpoint. Many of the big problems our organizations and societies are attempting to solve and confront, is this issue. Climate change, innovation in the workplace, generational conflict, labor vs. management, employee experience, diversity and inclusion, poverty, trade negotiations, etc. are all limited by the seeming unwillingness of people to embrace the new and adopt the best way. Given the pushback from broader society that Copernicus and Galileo received, and that we still find with the renewed embrace of the tantalizing idea of a flat earth, it shouldn’t surprise us. We live in a time of reinvention and discovery, but not all ideas and practices are equal. It sometimes feels like organizations are trying to reinvent the wheel or fire. We need to identify what to retain from our past and what to let go. These five traits/practices have endured throughout history and continue to be validated through various research methods. They represent characteristics of people at their best and are hard won. But rather than simply thinking of them individualistically and as inward dimensions that leads to personal happiness or positive wellbeing, focus instead on their outward expression within the various communities of which we are a part. When done well, they will have a much greater impact than that trendy new workplace bar and other amenities—it will also cost a lot less.


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