Workplace mental health

#63 Keeping a finger on employee’s pulse, Tareef Jafferi, CEO Happily.ai

Apr 23, 2024

Tareef Jafferi is the CEO and Founder of Happily.ai, an organisation that has created a platform to provide real time feedback for managers and employees to learn how to work better together. Tareef discusses his evolving perspective on care, emphasising the importance of allowing individuals to express their true selves and offering support rather than trying to solve every problem. He also underlines the importance of creating psychological safety in nurturing a genuinely caring work environment where employees can contribute effectively.
    
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"Caring is about making sure that everybody has a chance to be who they are, to be in their best selves, and it doesn't mean fixing all their problems and having to control every bit of how they recover and become better. So for me, it's less about trying to fix everything and more about being accessible."
- Tareef Jafferi

DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE

  • What caring means in the workplace for Tareef
  • Evolving perspective on care
  • The importance of allowing individuals to express their true selves and offering support rather than trying to solve every problem
  • Creating psychological safety in nurturing a genuinely caring work environment where employees can contribute effectively

RESOURCES

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Transcript from the interview


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SPEAKERS

Graeme Cowan, Tareef Jafferi

Graeme Cowan  00:00

It’s a real pleasure to welcome Tareef Jafferi to the caring CEO. Welcome to Reef. It’s so great to be here.

Tareef Jafferi  00:08

Thank you, Graeme.

Graeme Cowan  00:08

Terrific, what does care in the workplace mean to you?

Tareef Jafferi  00:14

I think that idea has evolved quite a bit over time, as you know, from when I started leadership for the very first time, very raw, very naive. So point where it has now become a field of study. So I think the latest my latest understanding of it, and I love to review to help me formulate that better as well, over this conversation is caring is about making sure that everybody has a chance to be who they are in their best selves, and then will to be supportive, it doesn’t mean fixing all their problems, it doesn’t mean having to control every bit of how they recover and become better. So for me, it’s less about trying to fix everything and more about being accessible. And making sure then when you build a workplace is really caring. People can have bad days, but they will return to good days very quickly, because they have the right support around them. And I think one of the key elements of psychological safety is that people can be their authentic selves and contribute how and where they can. I was interested, going back through your background or leaving a study at MIT, and you said you have a common core view interested in human connection? And can you explain a little bit about how that evolved for you? Yeah, sure. You know, I worked on a lot of different things before I stumbled across the discipline of people analytics. When I was at MIT. It was love at first sight, just because there’s all the makings of things that I would love for AI, there’s the just the core understanding that we can use data to really improve how we think about things and improve decision making. I always liked that as an engineer, but then I also was really am always interested in the human psychology aspects of it. And gathering data about people is really hard. It’s not like gathering data from the machine. So I think there was that element of it. But it was really interesting for me. So how do we unlock that in the first place? Because the fundamentals of how we use data around people is it’s not great at this, you know, in the moment, we could definitely get better here. I think it just, it just evolved from there, Graeme. And then I think that the the research that turned me to pursuing what I’m doing today was just the finding that it people who are the most successful in organizations and success in all measures, whether it’s about career progression, whether it’s about their creativity, or problem solving skill, or even if it’s about their happiness, and fulfillment, it all had to do with how strong their human connections were in the workplace. People with strong connections and relationships, just outperformed everybody else. And in start, it’s so obvious after looking at that piece of data, say, of course, that makes sense. But before that moment, it was always just something that I wanted to believe, but I didn’t have any facts to support. I think that just let me answer. Okay, this is it. I know this to be true. Let me figure out how to actually make this happen across.

Graeme Cowan  03:15

You have a very interesting background. You know, we speak today you’ve got American accent, but you’re a fifth generation Thai you were sharing before we came on here. For the purpose of our listeners, can you explain that journey? And what brought you to where you are today?

Tareef Jafferi  03:33

Sure. It sounds like a very kind of whiny journey. I think as a person who live through it, I do really feel that it also, you know, born in Thailand, I have a twin brother, that’s really interesting upbringing, or unique upbringing. And I think that I was I’m grateful to have been a part of a group born in Thailand raised in Kuwait, because my father happened to practice architecture there. So did my schooling at an American school and Kuwait did my undergrad in the US at Northwestern where I studied material science and engineering. So I did that for a bit, came back to Thailand to work. That was the first time that I actually lived in the place I was born. Because before that I was just visiting. And so that was a really interesting moment in my life to say, Hey, this is home. But how come he doesn’t feel like that. And it was a lot of adjustments and stuff like that, went back to grad school to MIT. And that’s where I stumbled across people analytics. And then although I had a, I did have a chance to work at Google in the US for a bit. I decided to come back home because I just thought there was so much opportunity to solve the problems in my own hole. There’s so many things that we can do to improve things that I felt that being half a world away wasn’t where I was supposed to be. So that led me back here and then that’s why I’m working on other things. I am in Thailand.

Graeme Cowan  04:57

And your business now is happy. Usually, what the what do you do

Tareef Jafferi  05:04

We are a people allies company. So we use data to help companies make better decisions. And that’s where we start off. And that’s our core expertise. But what we have our mission is very clear, we just want to make people happier and healthier at work. And all the data that we have around us is telling us that that’s not what’s happening, people are less happening. And people are less healthy, emotionally and physically, right, mentally and physically. And that’s something that we really want to help tackle. And so we’re using the data that we’re able to have in the way we are able to get data in a very novel that way. And we’re able to use behavioral science practices to get people to change how they approach certain things at work, little things that matter a lot like the relationships that you should be investing in, and how do you communicate, to form those relationships in the most healthy ways possible? How do you have a difficult conversation, so that you can actually solve problems when they’re small that when they’re large, all these things that always come up? When we’d ask people like what makes you so unhappy at work or what’s troubling you, it’s really more about the liberal problems than they are about big problems. And then I think that, you know, we tend to over index on solving the biggest problems, because they just they seem big, and we want to tackle them. And I think that happily, we’re just following a different way to approach it. And we found a formula that really works. And I think that I mean, that that’s what we do. And we really want to help companies build better cultures, to support their people. And everything else happens really quickly. All the good things that they that we all want out of work just happens very naturally after that.

Graeme Cowan  06:43

What are the little things that managers or leaders should do that make a big difference?

Tareef Jafferi  06:49

I think I’m still learning this one. But I think from the data that’s clear, is that leaders, and I make this I’m guilty of this as well. I always thought that being a leader and being exceptional at leadership was about how quick you were how intelligent you were at all the things are on hard skills. But then if you ask me about the leaders that I admire the most, they’re not the leaders that are able to read a financial statement. You know, the best. They’re always the leaders, were exceptional at listening, when it was hardest to listen, were was patient when it was hardest to be patient. And I still remember those moments and I and then I think that helps me also understand then the qualities of the leader that I would like to be even if I don’t have that tendency yet. But I think that those are the qualities I start to see having greater impact is especially how fast the world is moving today, it is really hard to regulate our emotions, when things are stressful, and to the leaders credit, their jobs are hard to to pull and to be responsible for so much. You end up in moments of stress and overwhelm, you can react negatively when you naturally may not do that. So I think that that’s a leadership quality that I I started to see today being so important is that how how are you knowing that you have certain tendencies? How How have you built the strength around regulating how you approach other people are, especially in difficult moments.

Graeme Cowan  08:22

You’re one of the people that we’ve interviewed on the caring CEO is bob chapman, and he’d say, an author of a book, everybody matters. And he’s also been very successful at really building a very large organization in the US. And summon signer considers him a mentor. And his real insight was that, you know, was people do want to feel cared for. But you show your kid for your caring by listening with empathy, which is exactly what you’re saying, you know, and he even has, inside the organization, a two three day course that shows how we do empathetic listening. And it’s not just beneficial, of course, in our work lives, but very much in our home lives as well, because the people we love they’d like to listen to with empathy as well. But that

Tareef Jafferi  09:18

100% And it’s so much harder than it looks right Graeme like to do it well. And I think that what biggest challenges with developing this kind of skill set is that a person doesn’t really know how good they are at this. Because there is no feedback loop to say, Oh, you’re really like nobody actually expresses recognition in that way. Oh, you’re such a caring person is one of the qualities that you have. Yeah, it’s silent, but you have it. And so I think there’s a lot of people that may overestimate their abilities in this way that oh, yeah, I’m great at this when maybe they’re not there yet. And a lot of people who have it in abundance, but just don’t know it, but then they end up you just look at the actions that are taken people just naturally gravitate towards them. Right when some leaders will have an open door policy, but nobody walks through their door, and some leaders, you know, people are just crowding at the entrance because they just so I think that’s how we can tell them apart. But yeah, how do you feel about that?

Graeme Cowan  10:13

Yeah, you know, I think there’s something called the Dunning Kruger effect, which you may have heard of. And, and basically, in summary, it’s people that have the most knowledge, underestimate their abilities, when people have the lowest knowledge, overestimate their abilities. And so, in many cases, those that don’t have listen with empathy, they overestimate what they’re doing. And they’re not watching other people, or getting 360 degree feedback, or getting some coaching guidance on on what they’re not doing. But one of the things that I understand your technology does is to provide prompt feedback to leaders, can you just explain what that feedback is? And how they can respond to that?

Tareef Jafferi  11:01

Yeah, sure thing. Um, so a very big part of what we’re trying to do is, a lot of times when platforms try to develop and launch a pulse survey, or some data or some feedback tool, the over focus on the data collection part? And what that what ends up happening is that the employee or the person using it, it’s very obvious to them that Oh, you’re asking this question, because you want a piece of data, we found the better way to approach it is, this is a relationship building exercise. First, the data is just a secondary byproduct. Right? And we focus on that, it allows us to think about the questions that we ask are completely different. We’re asking congruent questions that are conversation starters. Right? What are you looking forward to the most this week? He told me about that? Or have you got out of your way recently for a colleague, these are conversations that we should be having, they develop skills like optimism and empathy, but they’re not typical questions that you would have in like employee engagement survey. So I think the first thing is changing what your primary goal is, then the actions and the behaviors that happen, as a consequence will also change with it. And so because we’re able to ask this, these questions that foster meaningful conversation, people are more willing to engage with it. And whether it’s 50% of people who receive these questions every day as open ended questions are responding to that. And so there are a number of integral interactions and conversations that we’re producing between employees and managers, is enormous. And so we end up having a different problem where we have too much feedback, we have too many conversations being created, and managers don’t know how to respond to it, and you get a feedback, they don’t know what to say. And the worst thing to do is to neglect the right ignore. So then we go, the extra step step. And this is where we use AI not to replace the human, but to enhance the human, to give guidance to the manager in the moment, based on this question and the feedback that you got from this person. This is some guidance on how to respond. And just by producing that in the moment guidance, we’re able to then now foster better conversation, better quality in better quality conversation back. And I think that’s the momentum and the habit, body habit that we’re building that really creates all these outcomes. The data, again, is is a byproduct that then we can use to make other better decisions, or down the line.

Graeme Cowan  13:20

Can you provide an example of what you just talked about? They said, you know, an issue is raised this guidance on how the manager could respond. Can you give some examples of that just so that we can be specific about it?

Tareef Jafferi  13:34

Sure. Um, so you know, in the pulse survey that somebody would get in the morning, will ask a few questions for questions. Not more than that. One of the questions How are you feeling today? Right, and I’ll ask that question. I have I happen to say that I’m not feeling great. You’ll drop me a second follow up question, which is, you know, what’s going on? How can we help? And I have an opportunity to type in and say, Okay, what am I struggling with? Or I could just skip it or just say, hey, look, I’m, I’m just feeling under the weather. Otherwise, I’m okay. That already helps a lot. Because now there there are conversations happening before critical moments. I think today’s workplace, we’re having difficult conversations, which are good, but they happen too late. And that’s all we’re having. We’re forgetting to have all the positive, meaningful conversations in between. So that’s an example of the set of questions and today’s question that I got from happily was what’s on your mind? It’s a very open ended question. So I asked him this question as a form of self reflection, I get to articulate my thoughts on to our into an answer. And then after that, the person who I report to can respond back and either helped me reflect better where I helped me read our archives work that maybe I’m thinking about doing today or this week that I’m not supposed to be doing. So that’s how it worked, that it’s very much guided by conversations that happen.

Graeme Cowan  14:58

Yes, it’s So there’s really two ends of the spectrum isn’t there? There’s the positive side, you know, continual improvement, people evolving people learning people persisting. And at the other end, there’s some real risk that happens, you know, someone’s angry or bullies or he’s in a toxic team that can lead to stress, chronic stress, and it may even lead to stress leave, which is very, very expensive. What’s your thought about the those two things, obviously, you want to keep people in the, in the green zone in a good place. But what happens when there’s something toxic happening in a team? And the managers contributing to that, but doesn’t see that they’re contributing to it?

Tareef Jafferi  15:48

That’s a really great question. And I think deeply a lot about this, because it’s fundamentally how we could really improve workplaces. The data shows us that there are certain aspects of conversation relationships, that there is, it’s very healthy to have a mix of both, right, it’s very healthy to have a mix of both positive and critical conversations, we should be able to have both, it actually elevates the relationship that we have together, it’d be kind, of course conversation in both ways. But then there’s other things isn’t about achieving a mix or a balance, there are things that we should eliminate altogether, like toxic behavior. And just because you’re doing a great job coaching your your team, but you also have these toxic tendencies, it doesn’t balance out the toxic tendencies tendencies are, are detrimental. So doesn’t matter how many positive things you do. And I think, unfortunately, a lot of times we try to look at it that okay, let’s do more positive, then to counterbalance the negative, there are certain things that we need to be able to identify it early. That yes, there is toxic behavior here. And again, that’s part of how we we want data to really help with this, as well as that from the data that we have, how can we identify plastic behaviors more clearly? And how do we then solve these problems? So one of the things we do for example is because we have recognition data, when, when when people at work, give each other recognition, we are able to build an organizational network analysis. So pretty much like a map of how people are connected to each other. And identify toxic behavior by looking at where there are well, low wellbeing hotspots that fray for some reason, around this cluster of people, there’s a lower well being scores than the average. And that can suggest that maybe there’s something going on there. Either work is really stressful, or maybe there’s a source of toxic behavior that’s happening. So we try to at least help identify the problem. But yes, certain problems that we definitely want to eliminate rather than just balance are within the workplace itself, as you know, founder and head of a technology company technology platform.

Graeme Cowan  17:50

How do you try to create the right spirit in a team that leads to robust discussions, but respectful discussions and leads to you know, Ray Dalio, the hedge fund manager took talked about having a culture where the best ideas win, which I think is great. How do you do that, as a founder,

Tareef Jafferi  18:19

I think he’s been especially part in a, in a room working with we’re working in Thailand, where psychological safety as a norm is quite low, because the social norm here, you know, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of hierarchy, people are the social norm is not to confront, not to be confrontational. So there’s a lot of things working against us, when we’re trying to build a culture that should be very open and safe to share and express the biggest lever that I have found. And it took me a very too long to find this gram, like, I’m ashamed of how long it took me to just figure this out. But the moment where we put our core values at the center of how we manage people, and conversations, it just made all the difference, because instead of having this adversarial, kind of dynamic, it was all about how well can we support these values that we have, right? So for example, it happily one of our values is courage to fail. That means we it’s complete, actually, it’s you’re rewarded for talking about the things that didn’t go well and what you learned from it, right? So by anchoring them on the values that are really important for us, and how, why we succeed when others won’t, and having everybody else on the same page about that, I think has really made a big difference. And I I think I speak about our values so often that people are sick of it. And honestly, we okay with that, like if you’re not sick of me talking about our values yet I haven’t done it enough. But I just wanted to be so much part of how they think about work.

Graeme Cowan  19:54

I’m a big believer in that as well, that the you know, the values really should define everything. They’re not things you do and something extra, they’re integrated into our cultural DNA. In our scene, really successful companies do that. And I’ve been a consultant for a long time you walk into, you know, many receptions up a wall is their values. And, you know, when I worked in recruitment, you know, weeks later, you’d have someone coming from that organization and just telling you how those values are crap. They’re not, they’re not leaving. And so when they do live and breathe, I think it does make a really a really big difference. And the cultural element is a interesting side as well, because I know, you know, I work a lot of Ni, te mental health and resilience space and places like, you know, China, Korea, Japan, India, I know, there’s a lot of stigma around mental health. Is it like that in in Thailand as well?

Tareef Jafferi  20:58

I think it used to be I think it still is, but I think we are at least evolving as a society to be more accepting. A lot of times I think we evolved due to necessity in that things are so bad that we have no choice but to actually care about it. Well, I wish there wasn’t the reason why we care about today’s here. But I think it’s really much that it becomes such a big problem that we have on it. And then but I think we’re still very far away from actually thinking about it in the right ways. Is there still stigma about it? Yes. And the solutions that we try to go to? Is it rooted in understanding empathy? It’s not like one another call this taco, we actually all eliminate it eliminate the core reasons, we’re trying to treat symptoms. And I think that that’s where a lot of improvement can happen. I possibly this is not just a tie centric problem. I think it’s a global problem as well.

Graeme Cowan  21:50

it is. And, you know, there’s a real global emphasis on trying to create more psychologically healthy and safe environments. You know, there’s a global standard 45,003, which talks about that, that psychological health and safety is just as important as physical health and safety, as very few of us now work in manufacturing plants. It does make sense that, you know, that’s what has got the major emphasis and any place where there are good relationships, as you’ve observed, it does flow on and I noticed in some of your blog articles and started talking about the importance of measuring employee Net Promoter Score. Why why is that so important?

Tareef Jafferi  22:37

I think it’s important not because the score itself is a one all as search for everything. But it signals something important, it signals that we care about this, and it signals that we want to do something to improve it or understand it better. I think that’s the starting point, right? I don’t know how many companies have you talked to where they’re like, Yeah, our, our culture is great. Then I was like, how do you know, oh, I just No, no, no, like, there is no other discipline where that answer is acceptable. And you go to a sales and say, Hey, how’s the sales going? Oh, he’s going great. Like, okay, show me the data, like, what does that look like? And you could say that for any other discipline, but for some reason for leadership, we’re, we’re almost like, okay, that doesn’t apply here. It should say, okay, the data does show us that our culture is good, because we have this. And so I think measurement helps us be more accountable to something. And I think that without measurement, a lot of times, then people just pay lip service to it, say, Okay, this is really important. And then there’s nothing that gets done about it. And being a people analytics driven company, we have found that difference where, before a company started using khopoli, we would just do a baseline measurement, and the NPS would be low, it would be in the negative scores. And we would identify that P you’d have a really large group of detractors that you really need to understand what’s going on here. And just by having these meaningful conversations that happen a bit every day, these scores are improving drastically within a few months of May. Right. And they’re about solving little problems, not big problems. Yeah. Sorry for going long winded. But it’s your question. I think measurement just allows us to have a good starting point for doing all the right things.

Graeme Cowan  24:16

And it does flow on you. I know that Gallup, in their q 12. questionnaire, have a statement that my supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person. And the more people who strongly agree with that, the higher the productivity, the higher the profit, the higher the customer service level, and the longer people stay there. And so that does, you know, really illustrate what you’re talking about, you know, one thing leads to another, doesn’t it on your persona.

Tareef Jafferi  24:45

And now that we have ways to collect data in a more timely way, use certain approaches will give us more honest answers and others for example, it happily because we’re able to ask questions every day and get reliable results. RUBIN able to effectively measure well being over time, probably the only metric out of 400 different things we measure that has had the most significant decline over the past three or four years. And we pick up point a COVID, or post COVID, or whatever it is. But there’s something that’s happening, where for organizations for the most part, we used to average a score around 70 to 72. On the CU five index, the World Health Organization’s WellBeing Index. Now the average company that we’re measuring as a well being score 55, was in a drastic decline here. And there’s something that we definitely have to do something about it. And looking at the average is one thing, but then when we take this and actually look at as not as just data points, but as people, we find this large clusters of people that just have really low scores, they’re just drawing the average down. And they’re, they’re in a critical state, but they’re not receiving help. And when you’re in a critical state, you can’t help yourself. Unfortunately, if you could stop while being when things are just yellow, or you’re starting to go poor, we have a fighting chance of helping when it’s at Red or red critical state, less so. And then unfortunately, with well being like a lot of things, if one person has low well being, it will end up affecting other people around them as well, right? They have lower capacity for empathy, and patience. They don’t have to pass to take on new challenges, things like that. This is such a focus area for us is that how can we really help solve this problem? There is no easy fix. There’s no silver bullet, again, and there are measures that we need to take to say this is a real problem. We need to prioritize this. This is a question that I’ve been struggling with Graham was what do you think about this? Because I think it’s clear if we can tie attribute wellbeing issues to the workplace, right? Maybe there’s toxic behaviors that are happening, and things like that, we definitely need to do something about it to eliminate those behaviors from company. What if we find that well being? Is it low? Well, being isn’t in the workplace, the workplace isn’t a contributor to it, but people still help our well being what what do you feel is the businesses in the workplace accountability or responsibility when, when that happens?

Graeme Cowan  27:16

Well, I think that, you know, there used to be a big separation between work and personal life, but now it blurs and integrates much more thoroughly. And, you know, if someone is not in great shape, and it’s to do with something outside work, it is in the interest of the workplace to contribute to the solution. That doesn’t mean they own the solution. But they might consider, you know, referring to a psychologist or a counselor to identify what’s going on there. I think that the best workplaces do see that connection, and are interested in the total well being of people’s, their social well being at home, and everything else, like work can’t solve everything. But showing care is about hoping for the best for people in their life. You know, work needs to contribute to that not in a meaningful way, not in a Atoka way, and not in a way where, you know, they have full responsibility either if it’s outside there, but just providing guidelines to people, and what could could be good pathways. One of the things that we’ve done it we K through six, five is to create a resource sheets to help people to get expert help. And so some of those things could be how do I find a middle health savvy doctor or general practitioner or physician? How do I prepare for that discussion? You know, what are the things that need to talk about and know about? Now, workplace is providing that to people to help them get the best response to their situation. And, you know, I read a survey of people that have had real, serious mental health problems, and their biggest regret often is not getting a rigorous diagnosis upfront, not getting holistic advice about recovery. And so, you know, that’s an example where, you know, an employer can really help either to even if it’s an issue that that’s happening outside work, or someone’s going through divorce or, you know, a situation, we can help them to get the right feedback. Not always, but we can increase the odds at the end of the day. That’s what we have to be in, isn’t it like progress is better than perfection, we can’t be perfect. But you know, keeping on nudging people in the right direction I think is really critical for not just a better workplace but a better world.

Tareef Jafferi  29:48

Thank you for that. I needed to hear it and I wholeheartedly believe it as well. Basic for helping convince me that it is true I think that Yeah, real care is should be unconditional. So it shouldn’t be conditional to because it is work related or not. And then people who really care, they don’t have boundaries of care either. Right? And like it is boundless. Now, I think the leaders that I could think about today that I have a chance to work with, they are very much like that when they see well being scores that low, they can’t help but go all in and trying to like they forget about everything else, because they care so much. Right. And I have a lot of respect for that. But it’s also Yeah, the resources and guidance that you that you’re sharing, I think are instrumental for progress to happen, because I don’t think a lot of people know where to get started. Right? And there are different roles to play here. What is the role of the person themselves trying to recover and get better, and what is the role of the manager or the leader, and sometimes we over I feel that we overstressed on a certain role, we might overburden the manager too much to become more of a therapist than a manager, and that might not be very fair, especially the managers are more susceptible to lower well being in the first place.

Graeme Cowan  31:00

Yeah, yeah, you know, I think managers can take on too much they can own the problem and feel responsible for the problem. And that can be really, really heavy. But, you know, once heard a Buddhist monk describing, you know, the best way to care, and this is, you know, you tack on people’s struggle in your bucket, but it’s an empty bucket, it flows through and say, You’re not burdened by it, you listen, you have empathy, but you’re not burdened by it. And, you know, managers, as you would know, and you already stated, they have real issues with it well being as well, they’re often the maintenance sandwich between the senior leadership team and the frontline workers. And they often have to carry a lot of the burden of, or change management, you know, poor initiatives that happen. And so, you know, we also, and I know, this would be part of how police quest is, is help managers to lead their allies healthier lives. And if they’re in a better mood, we’re much, much more in a situation where we can help others, you know, you talked before about when people the red zone, not only does it take a long time to get out of the red sun, but you can’t help anyone get out of the red zone of your day yourself. You know, you can’t give what you don’t have, like, where are yours? And there’s so much opportunity here.

Tareef Jafferi  32:23

You’re right, I think managers are at the center of many workplace opportunities for positive change. And just how do we approach that? I love to ask you, this question, grab that, because this is again, something that I’ve been thinking a lot about is what is the motivation to being a great manager, or manager who’s carrying a manager who goes out and has poor social behaviors, because I feel that it’s based on intrinsic values, right? They are that way, because they are wired that way. And that’s what motivates them. You know, our workplaces do not give them any external or extrinsic motivators to be great managers. So there is no extra incentive, external incentive, any way to be a great manager versus a mediocre one. So we’re all rely on just people having these post social values, to be the marriages we want to be. And I think that it is now time to also adapt our systems, to be honest about that, that we can’t just rely on intrinsic values alone, we have to be able to build a system where being a great manager is also taps into other parts of their motivation as well. And a lot of people are motivated by status by achievement. Those are bad things. But for sake right now, those things are not doesn’t help guide them to become the manager, we want them to be a lot of the time. I don’t know how you feel about this. Do you feel that the task of creating great managers is about convincing or adopting people’s values? So they’d have more post social care more about others? Or how else can we tackle this when it’s very hard to change a person’s value system, isn’t it?

Graeme Cowan  34:06

Yeah, it is. But I think that the world of work is changing so quickly, and everyone is picked to say the old command and control just doesn’t work. It’s just too much change too much uncertainty. And the very best leaders, you know, can be vulnerable can say, I don’t know the hits. We need to work this out. You know, we need all our best minds working on this to solve solver. And that camaraderie, you know that pulling together working together is very, very good for social cohesion as well as well being as you’ve already explained. So if there’s one quality that I would have to say that the carrying CEOs that I’ve interviewed would have is humility. They don’t pretend to know everything. You know, they’ve got some very good principles that they follow, but they No, they can’t do it all themselves. But just to just to a question that I’m a bit curious about, what could the West Western workforce, learn from Thai companies or Asian companies that you see as being very positive air which might not exist in the West as much, but at least in the culture

Tareef Jafferi  35:22

that I work in, there is a very high reverence for like respect, in many different ways, whether it’s authority, whether it’s hierarchy, but in the way that we communicate with others, whether whatever the situation is, there’s very rarely a breach of that respect. Right. So I think just that already helps a lot when it’s so much part of who you are to be respectful, that that makes those kinds of toxic behaviors less happening. But at the same time, I think, you know, every single culture will have its challenges, certain social norms are, are wonderful and beautiful. And part of that, and what’s what makes that culture great. And I think the other part too, though, is that maybe there are social norms that we should rethink, sometimes that maybe they have existed, but they no longer function very well for us, and have negative side effects. And I think this is the this is what at least my part of the world, we’re actively thinking about, that if you want to create workplaces that are more innovative, they have a lot more like psychological safety, where people can disagree openly, those social norms have to be readjusted somewhat. Because if you don’t, if you take no effort to do so we’re not going to be able to innovate at all. So I think we’re in this place where we want to keep the really good things that make us OPR. But also, yeah, identify the things that were really to change most and then be able to do those things as well. And

Graeme Cowan  36:55

It’s been absolutely fascinating talking with you have very much enjoyed our discussion. And, you know, certainly no one has all the right answers for any things related to people. But moving in the right direction is obviously where we all got to be, you know, just trying to improve those situations. But I’d like to just ask you to reflect on your life now what you’ve learned where you are now, if you could go back to your 18 year old self, probably just graduating in Dubai from high school. What advice would you give yourself back then,

Tareef Jafferi  37:30

that I think what would have helped me the most, as I matured, and in the work that I did stay is being better at figuring out what to be patient about and what not be patient about anything that I had that mixed up all the time, I was too patient when things I shouldn’t have been patient about tolerating certain things I shouldn’t have tolerated. And that was detrimental to a lot of the progress I would have made. And at the same time, there’s a lot of things that I just need to be patient before I saw the results I want to see. And especially when it comes to helping people, if that’s something that you’re really passionate about you, you almost want to see it happen right away. And a lot of times it is, you know, it does take time, people need time to adapt, change, but they are very adaptable. And if I just spend a bit more time being patient, I think I would have made better decisions as well. So yeah, I think it’s just understanding what to be patient about and what not to, like, had

Graeme Cowan  38:25

hope to have a follow on question. That is, what is what’s an examples of things that you were patient about, but you wish you had been much more impatient about

Tareef Jafferi  38:35

in the in the clutches of work, it was around being too compassionate, when you have a team that wasn’t working, and you were so compassionate about wanting a person to stay on the team just because you liked them so much, even though it was not not apparent to me that their values clashed. And just by hanging on, I was I was doing a disservice to everybody, myself, that person and the team in those wins. I just had to be a lot more clear inclined about what had to happen. And I just wasn’t I was to compassion, that impatient in the moment, hoping that something bad would happen.

Graeme Cowan  39:15

Yeah, that’s a great example. Thank you for sharing that. I think we can all take a bit of ethics for that, or many of us can anyway, thanks so much for being part of the caring co rich, it’s been lovely talking with you. 

Tareef Jafferi  39:29

Likewise, thank you so much for having me.

 

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