This One Key Habit Will Make You Attract Immense Success In 2018

The new year has started. Time of resolutions. And thinking about my professional purpose, which is to empower people's lives with technology, I have come to reflect on how I can be useful to you, to help you deliver a higher value and impact.

We interact with one another in an increasingly digitized world. Constant interruptions, leaving messages unanswered, and lack of interest have all become the norm in our society, overflooded with mobile devices and screens. But is this what you want? And if not, what can you do in 2018 about it?

Digital incumbents' engineers and designers have worked hard in these years to make email, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other tools addictive. They reward you through the neurochemicals you experience when you use them. They give you the illusion of accomplishment and productivity and supposed social connection.

Out for dinner? Instead of talking about the food, you post a picture of it online. Missing family? Instead of calling your dad, you send a message to update him on your life. At a party, you are busy sharing the experience with your friends online instead of talking to other people there.

At home and at work, even as you sleep, your devices – the smartphone or tablet – attach to you and surround you. Your apps buzz, beep and ring at you, and even when they don’t, you can’t resist their allure and reach your smartphone for your dose of dopamine, as you do with a delicious croissant.

Your costs, though not evident, include a lost ability to converse or relate in person and a loss of empathy quotient (EQ). In your organi
zation, such behavior leads to declining morale, less creativity, little collaboration and lower productivity. Your friendships fade as once-deep conversations grow shallow and disjointed. Once you lose the ability to relate effectively in person, you hide behind your devices all the more.

Research shows that once you are interrupted, it takes 23 minutes to get back to the performance level you had beforehand. Learning to unitask is difficult, especially if you are younger than 40 and raised on the multitasking myth, but you can “rewire” your brain with practice.

Your work in 2018 requires from you more focus, time and reflection. As Cal Newport explains in his book, Deep Work:

The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.

If you can set strict mental boundaries and commit to intensely focused work times, I promise you will shine in 2018.

Now that year's end is passed and as you have to regain optimal weight :) more critical: you have to cultivate your brain's shape.

Yes, you are vulnerable to the emotional gratifications that your phone offers – as you are neurochemically rewarded when you attend to its constant stimulation.

Technology promises to supplement your life, but often it ends up changing or controlling it. Texting disrupts conversations; emerging AI supplants human caregivers. Algorithms collect and analyze everything you do online and predict what you want.

Not all this is bad, but now is the time to think deliberately about your behavior. Put your phone out of sight and talk to your kids, partner, and co-workers. Spend more time alone, either thinking or daydreaming. Talk to people who don’t share your views. Demand more transparency from the Big Four (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple). And most important, set aside time for real, eye-to-eye, conversation with human beings. Those empathic, mind-enriching conversation that you cannot have with Siri, Cortana or Google Now.

My good news to you is that you don’t have to give up your smartphone. If you understand its profound effects on you, you can approach it with greater intention and choose to live differently with it. I hope this can be - together with me - one of your resolutions to gain success in 2018.

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

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Soft Skills are the New Core Skills – and Technology Can Hire Them

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Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring For Attitude, leadership trainer and CEO of Leadership IQ, has trained companies like Microsoft and IBM. In one of his research he tracked 20,000 new hires, and found that 46% of them failed within 18 months.

Even more shocking than the failure rate was the fact that 89% of the time it happened for attitudinal problems towards work and colleagues, and only 11% for lack of expertise. The attitudinal deficits included low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament.

In today's fluid and interpersonal workplaces, skills such listening and learning from criticism, collaborating with others, working under pressure, presenting ideas effectively, and a having a positive, flexible attitude become all vital qualities for career success.

And while studying takes us on a path towards acquiring those hard, technical skills that we need to manage our job operationally, soft skills have little to do with knowledge or expertise. They are closely linked with our character.

As a combination of social competences, communication abilities, and emotional intelligence, soft skills are the spearhead of our inner nature and a direct result of our personal inclinations, which can strengthen or weaken them.

Some personality traits, in particular, have proven to be strong predictors of career success, leading to superior performances in general people’s working lives and within different jobs.

Let’s look at two important - yet not so well-known - personality traits: Internal Locus of Control, the key to success in any work environment; Need for Closure, which can have a different impact in various job functions.

Locus of Control

Locus of Control is our tendency to believe that 'control' resides internally within us, or externally, with others or the situation.

Individuals with an internal Locus of Control (called "internals") feel that they are in charge of their life and have primary responsibility for their actions, whether they are successes or failures.

Individuals with an external Locus of Control (called "externals") tend to feel more vulnerable and view themselves as victims of circumstances, fate, luck, and the influence of other people. They are more likely to make excuses or blame other people, events, or things, rather than taking responsibilities.

Having an internal Locus of Control is a source of energy, motivation, and confidence, which represents an advantage at all levels within an organization in many areas and situations. For example:

Effective Leadership. An "internal" leader is more likely to be favored by group members. One reason is that "internals" are perceived as more influential than "externals" because they take responsibility for events, emphasizing that they can change unfavorable conditions.

Taking the Initiative. Effective managers demonstrate a strong self-efficacy and an internal Locus of Control when they take steps to circumvent obstacles, actively seek information to solve problems, and usually initiate action, rather than waiting for things to happen.

Occupational Well-being. Amongst other things, Locus of Control is found to be a strong predictor of occupational health, and 'internal' employees show higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of job insecurity.

Need for Closure

Need for Closure (NFC) describes people's desire for a firm answer to a question or an issue and an aversion toward ambiguity.

A person with a high NFC prefers order and predictability and, in uncertain situations, tends to seek closure urgently. In contrast, a person with a low NFC tends to tolerate more, or even to look for the fluidity of uncertain situations.

In business and management, this personality trait has significant implications. For example:

Decision Making. Employees' level of NFC can serve as a useful criterion to select decision makers in organizations, by identifying the decision-making style that fits better with a job function. People with a high NFC prefer to think about black-or-white solutions and simplified dichotomization. They are more willing to make instant decisions, whereas people with a low need for closure prefer to postpone decisions and carry out a more in-depth evaluation, even if it takes extra time.

Leadership Behavior. Experimental findings have highlighted that individual differences in the desire to reduce uncertainty affect people's leadership style. For example, supervisors that are high on NFC tend to show an autocratic leadership and a preference for 'hard power' tactics of social influence, whereas 'soft power' tactics are those that managers with a low NFC value most.

Coping with Change. Because of their desire for stability and permanence, people with a high NFC feel uncomfortable with change. They are also more resistant to changing their minds and yielding to persuasion attempts. For example, high NFC levels are associated with political conservatism, an ideology whose core definition involves resistance to change.

Personality assessments have always been a common practice amongst large companies, to identify peoples' strengths and weaknesses and help HR managers decide whether or not an employee is a good organizational fit. To this end, traditional paper-based and web-based questionnaires are still today the primary tool used by companies.

Technology, however, is changing the face of the HR world by progressively, but rapidly, automating processes on previously unimaginable scales. Today's softwares can do much more than grade multiple-choice questions to measure people's technical skills.

With natural language processing and machine learning algorithms analyzing things like keywords, intonation, and body language, it becomes possible to capture more intangible human qualities. This data can then be used to create a psychological profile that allows HR managers to predict whether a person's attitudes fit with the company’s culture, values, and desired behaviors.

For the past year, the consumer-goods giant Unilever - for which about 170,000 employees work worldwide - has been using artificial intelligence to screen all its entry-level employees, and neuroscience-based games to measure their inherent traits. The company needed to renew itself, and transforming new talent recruitment by digitizing the first steps of the hiring process was a great way to do so, says Mike Clementi, VP of human resources for North America.

More and more, it has become clear that Artificial Intelligence not only improves the work processes of employees by automating time-consuming daily tasks; it is revolutionizing the HR world at all stages. Let’s look at some of them:

Hiring Process. By scanning resumes, machine learning algorithms can do initial screenings to identify the best candidates, eliminate unqualified prospects, and then create shortlists that can be organized based on specific skills, keywords or employment history.

Training Methods. By recording how an employee is responding to an ongoing training program, AI can help HR managers to better tailor future training sessions to each worker.

Performance Evaluation. By analyzing productivity data, AI can help to measure how well an employee is performing, thus becoming a supplemental tool to management decisions.

Turnover Prediction. By analyzing employee engagement data, gathered from quantitative surveys or qualitative methods, AI can determine an employee’s level of commitment or satisfaction, and better predict if he or she is at risk of leaving. That allows HR managers to decide whether to adopt some backup retention measures or provide new growth opportunities.

There have been great strides in the HR world, since technology was usually seen simply as a tool to streamline technical procedures. A turning point comes when AI applications are increasingly expanding from specific standardized, low cognitive demand tasks, to typically human jobs, such as discovering the human side of employees, from their temporary feelings and emotions to their stable personality traits.

We cannot predict the future of HR with a 100 percent certainty, but what we can see is undoubtedly a world where technology will embrace more and more the human side of people.

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

company-culture

The single most important challenge for all brands of the Age of the Customer? The development of a positive digital customer experience. 71% of companies already understand that traditional differentiators alone are not enough to guarantee engagement and loyalty.

So where do successful experiences come from? Company culture, that’s the answer. You can invest all your budget in technological improvement, but if your company has not a shared customer centric culture all other activities will ultimately fail.

In this moment of fast and continuous revolutions, you may believe that the key factor is how you implement and adapt innovative technologies and devices to your business needs.

Smartphone, Oculus Rift, Apple Watch: they all reshape the connection between a brand and customers but in the end they are just the tip of an iceberg, with unseen roots in your employees.

PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER

In the era of mobile-mind shift, your employees can determine whether you stay top of mind or disappear from customers’ mind when the purchase moment comes.

A true digital transformation can only be achieved when you become conscious that:

  • Your customers are more critical than your brand;

  • Your employees are your first customers;

  • Your culture is the foundation all your marketing efforts are built on.

There is a direct correlation between the culture within an organization and the experience that customers have when interacting with that organization. Culture defines the behavior of your employees, and employees deliver your value system to customers, in their day by day interactions.

Culture and experience are strictly linked: the actual experience you deliver will tell you everything you need to know about what is working and what needs to be improved as soon as possible.

As long as your focus stays on traditional differentiators, you probably won’t feel the urge to improve and share your company culture. But, again, product, price and advertising can’t help you in markets where all other companies are moving to compete on the basis of the customer experience.

START WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES

New channels, innovative IT structures, back office efficiency can do nothing until all branches of the company move together towards a customer centric approach, from top management to front office operators.

Whenever decision makers only care about product improvement, big spending campaigns and behind the scenes technology, this choice will be visible in the journey map, and will result in a bad customer experience.

A strategic innovation always requires a deep change in company culture. Simply throwing money at it will likely not yield the type of culture needed to actually drive engagement.

As Brian Solis once said, “the entire service-profit chain begins with, and absolutely depends on, engaged employees.” You can have the most honorable values but you will never be recognized as unique if nobody knows or cares about them.

To improve and deliver amazing customer experience, start with the employee experience. To retain customers’ attention and loyalty, start with employee loyalty.

If you don’t take care of such a critical matter, your employees won’t feel your values as their values; in one word, they won’t be engaged.

Dissatisfaction always impacts on the outcome; when that happens, no matter how clever your business plan is, the whole customer experience will end up being faulty and inadequate.

CULTURE IS NOT A PROGRAM

Culture is more than just one-shot projects or programs coming from outside. Companies already spend huge budgets on employee engagement programs - a total projected to top $1.5 billion dollars in the next years (Bersin & Associates).

The result? Actual employee engagement has reached the lowest point, falling down to 13% (Gallup). Take an internal survey and you will determine the perception of your people in regards to brand values and employee empowerment. As a consequence, you will find out the truth about the state of your customer experience.

To deliver the best experience, across all touch points and on any device, you need to to become customer-centric on all levels. The idea is not to replace good employees that may not be ready, but to transform them into agents of internal change.

How can you reboot your company culture so that employees and customers become part of the same customer journey map? Forbes has traced 5 tips to improve your customer experience, starting from improving yourself.

  1. Hire for values not skill sets - remember that70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

  2. Make your leadership visible - leaders should never hide in their offices. A message spoken by leaders will deeply resonate with your team.

  3. Reward employees to make customers happy - companies with stronger employee retention boast greater levels of customer retention. Gamification can help you with this.

  4. Rely on social media communication - the recent Facebook Messenger evolution teaches that brands can now manage their relation with customers taking advantage of the powerful two-way communication on social networks.

  5. Share customer centricity with everyone - without customers there is no business at all. All departments should share this common vision and put their efforts to improve the experience. The time of profit for profit’s sake are really over.

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Company culture and employee empowerment have a great impact on customer experience. This is the reason why we included both in the the DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a useful guide with requirements and insights for a successful digital transformation. You can download the free paper here: