Discovering talent: Why is HR Tech our passion? Interview with Prof. Rafał Ohme, founder of FIRM MINDSET

Discovering talent: Why is HR Tech our passion? Interview with Prof. Rafał Ohme, founder of FIRM MINDSET

Why this particular line of business? Has operating in this field proved to be a hit?

The area in which we operate is HR Tech. Specifically, we are in the business of creating tools that show HR professionals, board members what extraordinary talents they have in their organizations and how they can continuously develop and recruit them. The effectiveness of finding such talent is also quite unclear due to the fact that many people are not aware of the extraordinary qualities they are endowed with. We assist in finding such people with technology that determines the level of soft skills. The HR Tech industry is growing rapidly. This can be seen from Statista’s report – already in 2019, spending allocated to the HR Tech industry in the US reached $47 billion, and by 2025 this amount is expected to almost double to about 90 billion. Previously, HR Tech has traditionally focused on more procedural aspects, such as managing compensation, hiring and firing of employees. These ‘hard’ elements remain important, but in our view the key to true efficiency and innovation is to focus on the ‘soft’ aspects of HR management. The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced this need. The working environment has changed irreversibly, which has also accelerated the development of new approaches in leadership and talent management, such as ‘servant leadership’. Today, a new and complete branch in HR is being born that deals exclusively with ‘soft skills’. These are all sorts of platforms or programs for the well-being of employees. We want to fit right into the area of soft HR Tech.

Who are your company’s clients?

Our clients are primarily HR directors. Poland is becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to managing organizations and companies, and Polish entrepreneurs are critical of various types of solutions in their companies. It is apparent that they have a need for customization and tailor-made products, especially with regard to their own organizational culture. They recognize the need to nurture the surrounding microclimate to reflect their company’s values and history. We offer products that support entrepreneurs in these processes. We have tools such as inclusive recruitment, through which we examine the fit between candidates, the specific culture of an organization and the values that are extremely important to that company. By applying our methodology at an early stage, we are able to focus on the most important – from the perspective of a given company – qualities of a candidate that might be overlooked or go unnoticed due to discriminatory factors, such as gender, age, orientation, skin color, or given undue prominence, such as an exceedingly visually polished resume or an unsubstantiated talent for self-presentation. We have a whole staff of experienced psychologists and psychometricians to help create diagnostic tools. We also have great experts from Austria and Switzerland, who professionally deal with so-called ‘culture fit’ and motivating employees to action.

What kind of predispositions, personality traits, knowledge and skills should an entrepreneur have in order to succeed in business? Which do you consider the most essential?

For me, management styles based on Smart Power are a key aspect of effective leadership. I see Smart Power as a harmonious combination of Hard Power and Soft Power, where the balance between the two is crucial for effective management. Hard Power refers to the skillful management of rewards and consequences. This is essential, because without it, anarchy in management is created. The key here is to ensure that rewards and punishments are fair, predictable and transparent, which creates a solid foundation. However, Hard Power alone is not enough. The working environment is changing, and the current generations, especially Generation Z, also need Soft Power. This includes management by values, concern for employee ‘well-being’ and the creation of an optimal atmosphere, as well as countering the sense of loneliness that is a growing threat to the younger generation. The key to defining Smart Power is to skillfully combine these two aspects. This is the sort of management in which employees not only do what you expect them to do, but which makes them want to do it. This difference is fundamental, because intrinsic motivation is more lasting and deeper than extrinsic motivation. It makes a person more resilient to temptation, resulting, for example, from a desire to change jobs because of the offer of higher pay or periods of struggling. Such employees are much more loyal. An effective leader, according to Smart Power, cares about harmony in his mind, has his professional and personal issues in order, and is socially mature. Such a leader must be stocked with the resources of emotional intelligence, that is, the ability to understand himself and his employees. This is shown in a 2016 McKinsey report, according to which emotional intelligence and soft skills will play the biggest role in 2030, right after technological skills. In a world increasingly dominated by algorithms and artificial intelligence, nurturing emotional intelligence, which remains an immanent human trait, is the basis for creating good conditions in an organization and the effectiveness of managing often dispersed, hybrid teams.

It is often said that an entrepreneur works 24 hours a day. When running a business, is it possible to maintain a work-life balance?

Working 24/7 is a characteristic work style of the ‘baby-boomers’ and ‘X’ generation. It means that I work hard all week and rest intensively on weekends and during vacations. The younger generation, on the other hand, doesn’t want to have 8 hours or more carved out of their lives every day in exchange for a lavish salary. They want to live and taste this life at all times, and therefore need to realize their values, their dreams and their needs also within the framework of their responsibilities at work. That’s why they choose companies that are in line with their worldviews and that allow them a moment of respite. All of work psychology agrees with the statement that sometimes if you slow down you can go much faster later. That’s why occupational hygiene is so critical to mental health and professional effectiveness. Even if we love what we do professionally, and then work on it on the weekends, or after work hours in general, there is a risk of burnout if we completely sink into it. When we talk about job burnout, we often see it as a direct consequence of negative situations at work, such as an unfavorable atmosphere or insufficient pay. However, we are more and more often seeing that burnout can also affect people who achieve significant success in their work, are admired for it and receive recognition for their efforts. These individuals, despite external recognition and satisfaction, are also at risk of burnout. The key to maintaining work-life balance is to have something you are passionate about. The idea is to have something more than work in your life, something that allows you to get away from your daily responsibilities and routine. Such activities allow for relaxation, regeneration and renewal both mentally and emotionally. Each of us should nurture his passions without remorse. These can be a variety of hobbies – from pottery making to ballroom dancing to learning a foreign language or climbing. The important thing is that it should be something that we really enjoy and that allows us to get away from everyday life.

Are you involved in charitable activities and helping people who have encountered difficulties in life? What specific activities have you been able to undertake?

In our professional activities, we focus on detecting talents not only for employers, but also for the people themselves, who are often unaware of the skills and abilities they possess. It’s fascinating how often people discover hidden talents in themselves when they get the right tools and support from us. Our work thus has a dual dimension: we help companies find ideal candidates, while at the same time assisting individuals in discovering and developing their own potential. However, our commitment goes beyond purely commercial activities. We have also been involved in various charitable initiatives for many years. Before the pandemic, we worked with the ‘Noble Parcel’ organization, helping them develop a communications strategy. Currently, our efforts are focused on supporting children from Ukraine who have found themselves on Polish territory. War, separation and loss have caused them great discomfort, which we are trying to assist them with. Thanks to our cooperation with the ‘SIEMACHA’ association, we can develop innovative technology to detect this discomfort at the earliest possible stage, allowing us to address problems more quickly – before they escalate.

Prof. Rafal Ohme – an expert on the brain, emotions and technology

  • Professor at the School of Business at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa. Fulbright scholar, recipient of the Presidential and Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland awards, finalist of EY – Entrepreneur of the Year 2015, Speaker of the Year 2020.
  • Founder of DIGITAL EMOTIONS, a company that creates applications to increase mental power in sports, education and business.
  • Inspires managers and business leaders around the world. He has delivered speeches in 50+ countries on 5 continents. Author of the bestseller Emo Sapiens, co-author of Spa for the Mind and Postpandemic Stress Disorder. He writes for Forbes.

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Anastazja Lach