Sarah Deane, Founder at EMQ (Energy Management Quotient) talks about the importance and need to drive human excellence with more than physical health in this interesting weekend chat:
Tell us a little about yourself Sarah…we’d love to hear a little bit about you, and EMQ?
Well, where to start. I have been blessed to have various chapters in my journey. Starting out in AI with a passion and talent for data and algorithms. Then, a love for human behavior and psychology took me down the experience design path, during which I was fortunate to be able to study human behavior across the globe as it pertained to performance and engagement. Throughout my career, I had seen an issue with measures. While we spent so much time measuring things, whether that was leadership skills, employee engagement or customer experience, the output, while insightful, rarely provided the guaranteed actions to meet the goals. With my experience in AI and human behavior, I created a methodology to quantify typically hard to quantify goals. It’s based on the theory that if you knew what was needed in the ecosystem, across environmental factors, mindset, and behaviors, for a goal to most naturally occur, then you could make the best decisions to meet that goal and guarantee impact. I call it “success modeling,” as you are essentially creating the model for successful achievement of the goal in the best way, based on data.
EMQ, stands for The Energy Management Quotient. It is a diagnostic and treatment system for which our mission is to identify and remove critical blockers to human excellence so that everyone can bring their full capacity and potential to life. I feel very strongly that feeling good, and having the ability to show up as your authentic self, your whole self, should be accessible, achievable, and approachable to all. And now that we can assess and treat for brain capacity, just like with physical health, it is truly possible.
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We’d love to hear about some of EMQ’s recent programs and how they’ve enabled the efforts of teams / organizations?
The EMQ toolkit comprises two main areas: diagnostic and development. The diagnostic component is a simple self-reflection exercise. The results use the EMQ algorithm to very rapidly hone in on the core blockers that are hindering a person’s capacity. Not only does it reveal these blockers, but it shows how they are connected. This is key to the process, as these connection points enable the best roadmap of actions, for the individual, team, or organization to gain the fastest, sustained results.
Once identified, people undergo a series of mindset and behavioral makeovers. These are 30-day modules, requiring only ~1-2 hours a week to address their blockers. Participants have reported feeling more positive, and able to “handle so much more,” as well as having better relationships, and feeling that they can better regulate their emotions. Teams have reported being able to perform better together. In fact, one client, a Fortune 50 tech company, told us that the team that went through it were, “being the most productive they have ever been,” as they had an understanding of how to work best together, how to support each other, and how to bring their energy in the best way to elevate the teams performance.
How did the idea of EMQ come about? A few upcoming plans and programs to share with us?
Well, the journey has been very interesting indeed. After many years using the success modeling methodology in several industries, I saw stress and anxiety increasing. This was pre-pandemic. It was as if people, in general, didn’t feel good anymore. They couldn’t bring their full selves to life and they were depleted. While there were a myriad of solutions out there, addressing certain areas of this issue, with the levels of feeling overwhelmed increasing and mental wellbeing declining, there was obviously a gap. We thought, what if we could use our methodology to bring a solution to this problem? Perhaps, something that could unlock even more value from these other solutions. This is what started us on the EMQ journey.
We set out to answer, what is needed to perform and feel your best throughout your day? Our process revealed 74 competencies across 12 factors spanning how you think, how you feel inside, and how you interact with the world around you. We then created an evaluation that, once taken, uses over 1,200 markers to identify the sources of negative and positive energy, basically what is draining and fueling your capacity. After an initial set of people took the evaluation, the data revealed a set of almost universal blockers to humans bringing their full capacity and attention to what they do, which was decreasing innovation and wellbeing, impacting collaboration and relationships, and limiting performance and potential. There were foundational blockers that were directly related to how someone processes and responds to the world around them. Specifically, how clearly they see information, how accurately they join the dots to draw the right conclusions, and then finally, how optimally they respond.
These blockers diminished mental, physical, and emotional capacity. Lack of capacity is a key contributor to the issue of presenteeism (people showing up but unable to be fully productive), which has been said to cost businesses $1.5 trillion, 10x more than absenteeism. Also, the very capabilities needed, when it came to mindset and behaviors, that we could help people build, combated leaveism, the fatigue that comes from working past capacity to catch up or do what they feel is expected.
When the pandemic hit, it caused us to accelerate innovation in both areas: diagnostic and development.
Firstly, we knew in order to make this capability available to all, we needed to scale it. And we did, after several months of focused effort, we created the first way to accurately evaluate for this set of critical blockers through self-assessment. This has opened the door to many opportunities in terms of programming and being able to provide self-paced modules for people to remove their blockers.
Secondly, we saw a need for self-development to be elevated. People needed techniques that would work quickly. This led us to develop EMQ’s “Energy Boosters”. We wanted to create high impact events to rapidly equip employees with strategies they could easily implement right away, so we designed what you could call a “HIIT Workout for the Mind” that we do for teams all the way to 500+ employees – taking just 45-minutes or 90-minutes. Even though they can be huge self-development sessions, they are still personalized. We take a quick measure of their current energy state (based on the EMQ model) so that the techniques and content all align to what is currently depleting the group. The session itself is purposefully designed to activate rapid learning mode, so that the key takeaways stay in attendee minds, enabling small, but significant mindset shifts, that change the decisions they make moving forward. Attendees also receive a personal workbook to continue implementing the techniques, all of which take no more than three minutes. Stakeholders and leadership receive an insights report, to help them better understand the current state of the group as well as help them make decisions about where best to invest for future initiatives.
We have been so grateful that these programs have been a huge success in helping people get through these times, and set them up to handle whatever is to come. We are currently building our signature session format to combine them with the full EMQ evaluation. This will enable large groups of employees to have a hyper-personalized session focused on removing their blockers and the techniques to combat them.
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We are incredibly excited that we now have the opportunity to really transform access to mental wellbeing. This type of mental data, the level, depth, and breadth of insights into what is causing someone to feel depleted or what is diminishing their mental wellbeing, traditionally was not achievable without huge investments in time and money. This capability opens the door to providing people with the necessary information to make the best decisions, speed up the pace of change, and unlock even more value from existing investments. We have lots more plans for the toolkit to support individuals, teams, and organizations!
How according to you should leaders in tech be more receptive to employee wellness and behavioral health issues at the workplace, a few best practices that should be followed during these uncertain times?
With the World Health Organization estimating depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental health conditions, costing the global economy $1 trillion each year, you can’t afford not to be receptive. There are a few things to keep in mind here.
Be proactive. Addressing the sources of what is impacting mental wellbeing, can stop them from developing further into mental health issues. Instead of responding reactively, waiting until employees are burnt out or suffering from a high level of stress or anxiety, be proactive in equipping them with capabilities that increase the agility and resiliency of the human mind.
Ensure leadership sets the right example. Is the leadership team modeling desired behaviors? Business leaders are critical hubs of energy that either deplete or energize an organization. Energy is contagious, so every person impacts those around them, and leadership plays a large role in setting the right tone.
Take a real look at what is going on. It’s not always what people say. Discover the unknown-unknowns. Take stock and understand what the sources of issues truly are. From this vantage point you can best determine where to maximize the return on your investment.
Look beyond band-aids. It may be easy to say implement this app, or, let’s give everyone a day off, or unlimited vacation days. But some of these solutions may only address a part of the problem, may work temporarily, or may not be fully utilized due to underlying blockers. For example, unlimited vacation days make little difference to a person driven by misaligned expectations of self, as they wouldn’t use them in the way they were intended. When you see what is beneath the surface, you get better value from existing investments. Like many things, it’s like an iceberg. You see at the top, the visible symptoms, for example, employees are drained. So, in response, you may give them a day off. That’s great for a burst of renewal. However, below the surface, the things causing the mental fatigue are still there. Perhaps, they suffer from rumination and therefore are not sleeping well. In a week or so, they are depleted again.
Can you share a few thoughts on leading companies who have strong processes in place (and how) on these policies?
We are really happy to see that so many companies are stating their intent to invest in this area. You can see that some are taking steps to offer more mental wellbeing support. For example, Starbucks announced it would offer employees and their family members counseling sessions and PwC also introduced well-being coaching sessions for all of their employees. Also, Forbes reported that a group of CEO’s from companies such as BHP, Clifford Chance, Deloitte, HSBC, Salesforce and Unilever, came together to found The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health. In their words, it is an organization intended to, “raise awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace and facilitate the adoption of best practices.”
These are great steps forward, and the pandemic has certainly put the spotlight on mental health, the gaps that exist in how it is approached, as well as the need to remove the stigma associated with it. As a society, we have this notion that, “if I struggle it is a reflection of me, my capabilities, or who I am as a person.” We envision the flickering lights and scary looking buildings that films portray associated with mental health. But, to me, mental wellbeing is simply being able to show up as your full and best self. To understand when you are in not such a great state, and be able to navigate through it productively and positively. Everyone deserves that.
Many policies and initiatives designed to support employees, while being great steps forward, simply do not go deep enough, do not work fast enough, or are not grounded in evidence. Initiatives, like The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health, open the conversation and invite commitment. However, the critical element for success will be how we address each individual, teams, and organizations needs in the best way possible.
Before we wrap up, we’d love to hear a little about your top of mind thoughts on leading effectively with the right focus on employee health and concerns through 2021!
I covered this a little already, but while making pledges and commitments is a great step forward, the real commitment must be to doing it right. What does this mean to being an effective leader? Well, this means having a true understanding of your employees needs, and remaining open to what that means in terms of how you provide solutions. It means not being swayed by what you are comfortable with, or what you have done before, but elevating awareness and seeing the possibilities. It means focusing on the short-term and long-term. How are you helping them now, and how are you setting your employees up to handle what may come? It means seeing them as a whole person – not a work version and a personal life version.
Some companies are doing great things, or have some really great resources and benefits available; however, it is looking below that to ensure maximum value of these investments. For example, if you provide access to a therapy app, but someone doesn’t feel they can accept help and support due to fear of vulnerability, then this reduces the impact. Taking stock of what’s really happening, and why, affords the ability to then align your existing solutions and investments to best meet employee’s needs, communicate to them in the best way, and to drive the culture, mindset, and behavioral changes needed. Once you assess what is really happening and where the solutions you have meet the needs, then you can focus on closing the gap.
And lastly, set your expectations accordingly. It is not a one shot fix. It will take some time, but it starts with a clear and accurate view of what’s happening, a commitment, and a vision you all believe in for a better future. A future with energized employees who have the capacity, and energy, to reach their potential and desired goals.
People talk about wellbeing issues, performance issues, or collaboration issues. But, it really boils down to capacity. When people can bring their full capacity, focus their energy, and navigate their emotions, you see better wellbeing, greater innovation as the mind can see solutions that it previously had no capacity to see, better collaboration as there is better energy between people, better customer experience, and even greater levels of inclusion as the more capacity we have, the more we see other perspectives and are open to other views. To lead effectively, you will need to answer this question: How are we helping employees increase their capacity, physically, emotionally, and mentally, so that they can bring their full selves to life?
There are so many solutions for health and wellbeing, what makes this different?
There are a few key elements to EMQ. Firstly, the model was created based on extensive research and we add new sources of information all the time. Imagine having hundreds of insights from experts in neuroscience, psychology, behavioral science, mindfulness and more, all in an easy-to-apply way so that you can feel your absolute best.
Secondly, it doesn’t just address one aspect such as burnout or mindfulness, nor does it scale an existing solution such as digitizing therapy. The patterns emerged through the data, revealing the most critical blockers to human capacity. It leverages the power of data and AI. techniques to expedite the pace of change by honing in, very quickly, on the exact sources that are draining energy and capacity. This allowed us to focus on the diagnosis and removal of these blockers, which in turn increases the value of other investments and allows for hyper-personalized plans.
Previously, this level of information about how someone is thinking and the stories they tell themselves that impact how they mentally process information and respond, would have required bringing together numerous assessments and conversations, taking weeks, months, or even years in some cases to reveal. Now, we can reveal this depth and breadth of insights immediately, with a simple evaluation. Just like in physical health where you may have a blood test, and they use various markers to diagnose you and determine your risks, we can now do this to diagnose and treat this set of critical underlying cognitive and behavioral blockers to capacity. Many people experience moments in life where they say, because of the moment I learned this, or understood this about myself, transforming what they are able to achieve after that point. Now, we don’t have to wait for those moments, we can proactively equip people so that they can spend more time being their best selves and achieving their version of success.
**EMQ is the first diagnostic and treatment system to accurately identify and remove a set of core research-based mindset and behavioral blockers to human excellence. Through a simple self-assessment, proprietary algorithm, and a personalized brain training regime, EMQ quickly unlocks individuals’ capacity and potential for greater performance, relationships, wellbeing, resiliency, and innovation. Sarah Deane, is the founder and creator of EMQ.
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