Podcast with Mark Hlady Part 4
Mark discusses the importance of building strong social ties and culture in remote work environments, and suggests using social games to reduce the need for meetings. The use of AI and robotic process automation can free up more time for problem-solving projects, and companies like Pymertics use digital games to assess talent. Mark's tips for those starting a career in the digital space include getting interested in the world, developing a craft, and choosing a specialty.
[00:00:00] Andrew Liew Weida: .
[00:00:00] Andrew Liew Weida: I think it's a definite need. My recent last two fortune 500 company, when the CEO has to talk to a few thousand employees and. Has to use like WebEx, which is from Cisco and Zoom or Google Hangout. It's like I said, there's no social activities. It's just literally one way.
[00:00:18] Andrew Liew Weida: And sometimes some of my mates was like, Hey, why don't they just do a pre-recording and it saves everybody's time because even when you type all this comments like the CEO is not gonna answer 400 comments in any one time.
[00:00:31] Mark: Right? Yeah. Absolutely. And then the challenge with pre-recorded is do you know, did people watch that at all? And maybe then you build in something to make sure that the video gets watched all the way through, but then maybe they do something else while that's just running in the background. So that's definitely a challenge of remote work is you have to think about things a little bit differently. You have to trust your employees, you have to motivate people. You can't really mandate things to the same extent that you could with physical space.
[00:00:55] Andrew Liew Weida: Now, coming along that line as well there's also a reason statistical finding, which I was researching and we found that the number of meetings in corporate startups or big companies used to be like five to 10 per week, has almost increased by 50%.
[00:01:12] Andrew Liew Weida: And managers often survey in responses because I need to now do more engagement. And the way I do it, it's either through teams and therefore increasing the number of all this half an hour, one hour zoom meetings or teams meeting, and thereby increasing the overload bandwidth on the individual and it could be a driver for Zoom fatigue.
[00:01:34] Mark: Now. I agree completely.
[00:01:36] Andrew Liew Weida: I was also thinking along that would triple play eventually also create some interesting like social templates or social games where meetings can be conducted in a form of game setting and that increases engagement to make it more natural or to simulate the natural physical office setting.
[00:01:53] Mark: Yeah, I think we want to stay as a spot to build social tides, so we're not looking to be an always on office or to replace Zoom, but on your first point, that's one to talk about a bit, which is that I've observed this to some extent as well. Some companies with less strong culture actually end up having too many meetings, and going from say 10 to 50% more, 10 to 15, that's a huge increase of time.
[00:02:18] Mark: And then going back to the beginning when you talked to about people not making time to socialize, it's of funny because they realize they have this lack of connectivity, this lack of engagement, and then they think that maybe more meetings will solve it. But then they see that's not quite working and then they see the calendars are full. They don't have time to socialize. So they're caught in this remedial state because they didn't invest in the right solutions early on. So the companies that we see doing fewer meetings are the ones that actually have stronger social ties. because they're investing an hour just to know each other as people.
[00:02:45] Mark: And so then maybe when you know each other as people, you see the best in what each other are trying to say. Since instead of having misalignment around a point and needing to call a meeting, you actually trust each other more and you avoid that meeting. But the most pernicious part about bad culture is that it's not just about avoiding a meeting when you don't have alignment.
[00:03:04] Mark: Egos get involved in the decision making, and sometimes it's an entire extra week of analysis, the entire extra month of analysis because you don't have people trusting each other and it can get worse. You can make the entire wrong bets for your business because you don't have these strong social ties, because you don't have people that have seen each other as full people and really trust each other.
[00:03:24] Mark: So that really is the heart of having a great business is having a great culture, and I don't think you'll get there through more Zoom meetings, but when you start to see your culture fall apart, I think what you've talked about is that some companies think that they can solve that through more alignment meetings, but I don't think that'll work.
[00:03:38] Andrew Liew Weida: You point out some aha moment, which resonates with me in the sense that yeah having social, strong social ties, strong trust, it enhance better communication and therefore reduces the necessary for more meetings, which more meetings will end up having a visual cycle coming back again. Now the interesting part is that does gaming enable a level playing field in which that hierarchy no longer matter?
[00:04:01] Mark: Once you have the games, you have that shared interest, a shared goal where the new analyst is just as well positioned as the senior partner or the VP to answer question or to figure something out in a game.
[00:04:13] Andrew Liew Weida: So meaning that it's almost like playing a game where there's a captain and there's a few other superheroes and everybody is just focused on the mission, and therefore the captain is basically being more listening and seeing how the actions plays out. That sort of build more trust. Is that, What you're looking for or imagining?
[00:04:30] Mark: Yeah. I'm not quite sure on the captain analogy, but like quite practically, people from all across the business, different levels, people who have been there 20 years, people who have just started, they're all equal once they're playing the games together.
[00:04:41] Andrew Liew Weida: I think, like you mentioned building social ties takes time. And do you think that playing games is one of the fastest way to build social ties? Or what is your experience in terms of what is the length that's needed to build social ties?
[00:04:55] Mark: Yeah. Games are the best way and and we see that throughout our lives in several areas. But before a triple play, we didn't have games for enterprises in their remote world, there was nothing you could do. And so companies were doing games. Together in physical space and using that, they knew the value of that, but then there's just nothing they could do in remote space. So I would say the time it takes to build a relationship through games is similar online and offline. Don't have the exact number on that, but I would say it's the quickest way.
[00:05:24] Andrew Liew Weida: Yeah. When you suddenly mentioned about that when I was at HR consulting where we do a lot of leadership training and organizational culture change, we do a lot of outbound activities where you see executive fall into the hands of , his left hand man or right hand man and literally with no ropes, it's just free fall. And that's physical activities, actually a social game that built that trust because the pure primal instinct of those physical act interaction has no. Like what context of what is the marketing finance or everybody's literally human beings and hands and legs and let's try to catch the CEO and see whether the CEO is willing to trust us to free fall from a table.
[00:06:08] Mark: That's right.
[00:06:09] Andrew Liew Weida: And so you are doing it just on a digital realm because now with covid 19, physical activities is really constrained anywhere in the world.
[00:06:19] Mark: Yeah, that's right. And even before Covid knowledge work forces were moving to be distributed. A lot of the top companies in the world were already distributed ahead of Covid 19.
[00:06:28] Mark: Now the vast majority of companies in our space are distributed.
[00:06:31] Andrew Liew Weida: Cool. And coming back the future of work requires a lot of knowledge workers and there's a lot of different skill sets. Artificial intelligence will eventually eliminate a lot of repetitive work through robotic process automation or optimization. And it frees up more time to take up more challenging problem solving projects. What are your thoughts on enabling the individual talent to upskill or reskill himself to be able to enable the company to contribute?
[00:07:00] Mark: Yeah, I think that's important. I haven't looked at that area in too much detail, but absolutely feels important.
[00:07:06] Mark: And anecdotally, I've seen some individuals I know upskill themselves while working at a company and change roles. So I think it's very possible and will be very important.
[00:07:17] Andrew Liew Weida: I see. The reason why I'm also asking is because, have you also thought about using games? Like that? So there's this company called Pymetrics, which was acquired by Mercer.
[00:07:26] Andrew Liew Weida: And. Pymertics basically a gaming company using social, digital games to assess the connective abilities or the raw IQ of talent and therefore allocate or make recommendation to the HR to say this guy has some. Social skills and quantitative skills. Maybe he could be a digital programmatic advertising trader, or he could be a trader doing high frequency trade in the bank. So have you thought about also adding that element or looking at the problem eventually?
[00:07:58] Mark: I don't think we'll go there. I think that's a very particular type of game that definitely has some interest, but not really what we wanna do.
[00:08:05] Andrew Liew Weida: Ah, okay. So coming back to that topic of learning everybody learns all time, whether is it formal learning or informal learning. Do you have any book that you read about digital transformation or any book that you read, love that you have been reading it or rereading it over time?
[00:08:22] Mark: I might have a bit of a different take here, but I'll go back to the beginning when I reference the classics. So I would recommend to the audience to, to pick up one of the classics.
[00:08:30] Mark: so anything by Aristotle.
[00:08:32] Andrew Liew Weida: So Aristotle has a lot of huge influence on you
[00:08:34] Mark: Yeah. Nicomachean Ethics is a good book
[00:08:37] Andrew Liew Weida: Nicomachean ethics. The next interesting question is what is the number one software or application that you use every day or you need every day and why?
[00:08:44] Mark: I would say it's likely triple play, but outside of that nothing too creative. I would say the G-Suite has everything covered for us as a startup.
[00:08:52] Andrew Liew Weida: I see. Hopefully eventually triple play would also be an added. feature or app that any Fortune 500 company would use apart from Microsoft Office or Gsuite
[00:09:03] Mark: Not all of them we're just focused on those that are remote first. But hopefully any remote first company or any company with offices around the world where they want folks to connect would would give triple play try.
[00:09:14] Andrew Liew Weida: Ah, so it's more distributed teams or remote teams where building social ties is one of the fastest way to do onboarding or enhance trust. Now interesting because you mentioned about you had a very interesting career in a non-linear fashion. So for those audience out there who are very keen to start a career in the digital space, what are your top three tips for them?
[00:09:36] Andrew Liew Weida: Yeah. .
[00:09:37] Mark: Yeah. I would say number one is to get interested in the world. So to just think about the world around you, why it is what it is, what motivates you to think about nature as well as building, as well as technology to just get interested. And I'll talk about that one a bit more. And so to get interested, that means going beyond feed-based apps, getting outside of Netflix and just starting to think about things really for yourself to keep asking yourself why.
[00:10:03] Mark: And then once you have that interest in the world it'll continue to build on itself. And so the second thing would be to get interested in a craft. There's several ways to contribute to the world. One of which we've talked about here is technology. . And within technology, of course, there's different disciplines and you don't have to limit yourself to one.
[00:10:19] Mark: But choosing to have some specialty, especially early on, is helpful. So it could be in medicine, it could be education, it could be anything, but just choose a craft. So number one, get interested in the world. Number two, get interested in the craft. And then number three is start building. So take a shot right now if it's something that you want to don't put it off until there's a good time.
[00:10:40] Mark: There's never quote unquote a good time. So just start building from your interest in the world and from your interest in the craft. And then I think you'll find quite a bit of success that way.
[00:10:47] Andrew Liew Weida: Wow. Okay. So it's get interested in the world trying to figure out things and ask yourself why. And over time get interested in a craft to build and partake by building it.
[00:10:57] Andrew Liew Weida: What is your request from those listening to this podcast in the audience out there? What can we do to support you or what can we do to participate in your vision?
[00:11:07] Mark: Yeah. Sounds great. The request would be if you're interested in having stronger social ties at your business, if you're interested in your business having a stronger culture, I'll just send us an email@example.com and we can help you get that up.
[00:11:24] Andrew Liew Weida: For audience of that, definitely I'll just pin that up. It's called firstname.lastname@example.org and Mark and his team will definitely set up for you. And so we have come to the end of the podcast.