Understanding Workplace Well-Being With Dr. Nicolas Deuschel

Workplace well-being is always the first to suffer if the leadership doesn’t have proper focus, the team is too diverse, and the company’s goals are a bit unclear. To remedy this, executives and employees must strive together to create solutions that work and last. This is what Dr. Diane Hamilton aims to discover as she goes deep into a working environment’s challenges with professor and expert organizational psychology advisor Dr. Nicolas Deuschel. Together, they dissect mental health issues that often arise in an office setting (and work from home setup due to the pandemic), as well as how to become more adaptable in the workplace. 

TTL 778 | Workplace Well-Being


I’m glad you joined us because we have Dr. Nicolas Deuschel here. He is a professor and expert advisor in the area of organizational psychology. It’s going to be a fascinating show.

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Understanding Workplace Well-Being With Dr. Nicolas Deuschel

I am here with Dr. Nicolas Deuschel, who is a professor, expert and advisor in the area of organizational psychology. As a research professor at Spain’s leading Carlos III University, he investigates how employees create solutions and adapt change using their authentic motivation style. He also advises HR leaders and executives to gain clarity on the future of work where he offers science-backed tools to impact their workplace. It’s nice to have you here, Dr. Deuschel.

Thank you very much, Diane.

I was looking forward to this. I know you and I are connected to people in common. I know we do a lot of work with the people at AQai, which I’ve been pleased to have Ross and Mike on my show. I’ve talked to them on their platforms as well. I want to get a little background on you. How did you get to be an expert in this area? Give me your backstory if you wouldn’t mind.

It started several years ago. I graduated in the financial crisis in 2009. My students think it’s the worst crisis ever. There was a bad crisis several years ago. I remember I was trying to find a job and it was hard. If you graduate from Oxford and you have the feeling you would get a job by a slip of the finger and people would wait for you, and no one came. It was hard to get a job. Finally, I then got a job at a training program for a company that became part of McKinsey. My job was to analyze banks in London and to make them more profitable. The thing is, I hated it. It was terrible. I don’t know if you had that, but if you go to a company and you have this feeling, “What am I doing with my life?” I’m working every night until 12:00 or even longer until 2:00 AM. What I do, I don’t like it. I don’t like the people. I don’t want that, whatever. I quit my job. Everyone told me, “Don’t quit your job. You’re going to be crazy if you quit a job in the financial crisis.” I was like, “I must.”

I moved then to Switzerland, to Les Trois. It’s beautiful. It’s next to the lake of Geneva and the wineries, a beautiful view. I had no job. I was unemployed, with no money, and I was happy. I was like, “How is it possible?” Everyone told me, “You must have a job to be a good member of society. You must work in a skyscraper in London.” I was there. I didn’t like it. Now I don’t have it, I’m happier. That was the first time I realized the way how I work or the team or the leadership has such an important influence on my happiness. I have in mind, “Maybe I want to research this.” Fast forward, I got a job in Zürich in Switzerland. It’s also a similar industry, strategy consulting. It’s fast-moving. Do you know The Wolf of Wall Street?


It felt a bit like that except for the illegal activities.

Besides that.

TTL 778 | Workplace Well-Being
Workplace Well-Being: Curiosity is a precursor for creativity. You must have some sense of curiosity for something before you can create something.


I’m clear on that. A little castle on the hill with a sign called search and destroy when you enter. I was like, “What’s that?” Everyone was professional. I was intimidated. I liked it there because the bosses were here. The leadership was good. The team was fast-moving, interesting and fun. I was like, “How’s it possible that two similar companies and completely different experience?” I wanted to research that. That’s why I decided to do my PhD to look at it, research how and why people differ at work and how did they become creative differently. However, in doing my PhD, I had another time when I was bored. You might have had the same in your PhD when you’re like, “What’s this whole research about and number crunching? Who cares about that?”

I got this opportunity to work at this big company, a Fortune 500, to be HR VP and I was like, “I must take it.” I entered that job and it was like, “You made it.” I thought, “It’s not too bad. You’re the youngest member of a leadership team. Things are working out. Things will go fine.” I saw that at the top, the Chief Human Resource of the level and one level below, they were using half-baked knowledge which was out of time or not founded on any science. I was like, “This cannot be true.” That gave me this motivation, “Let’s finish my PhD and find tools that work because there’s so much still to be done.” Even at the great companies at the top, they use tools that, in my view, have no backing, that is generic and don’t make a difference. That’s my background.

It ties in so much as to why I created a tool to determine the factors that inhibit curiosity because I looked out there and I couldn’t find anything that did that. I thought, “All the tools would tell you if you’re curious or not, how high level you had or how low. What if it’s low? What do you do?” I thought, “I want to fix this problem.” That led to my interest in creating an instrument. I did create several instruments and different things that I’ve done. That’s what made me learn more about AQai and their adaptability measurement tools and some of the things they were doing there. I found it fascinating because there’s a lot more that we can quantify. If you can’t figure out what holds you back, how can you move forward? For me, that’s how I looked at it.

I read your research paper. You dig into it in-depth, the four factors you found that inhibit us. I was impressed. Especially with someone with a business background, finally, there’s someone who can tell you, “Don’t do this.” That’s why curiosity goes down and typing quantifiers are not. I was happy to see that.

What’s interesting is when you’re looking at some of these instruments, there’s the Big Five, there’s openness to experience. There are some of these things that have already been out there, but it’s how high or low a level. It’s good to measure the high and low levels to know if someone is curious or not. Ashton did some research in that area and that’s important. What is good is to find out if you have a high or low level, you didn’t go through some training like the stuff we focus on and then check a level again later to see the impact. Curiosity, creativity, adaptability, all these things get talked about a lot. I’m curious how you think they interrelate. Do they complement each other?

The big discussions around that come down to all about generating something. They’re all related to generating something new and creating something. I’m sure you know more about that, but curiosity might be like the precursor for creativity. You must have some sense of curiosity for something before you can create something. Adaptability would then be the outcome. If I create new things, I might be able to adapt better. You can adapt without having to be creative. If there would be all platform burning, you wouldn’t have the luxury to become creative on how to extinguish the fire. Maybe you might be hindered in your curiosity. You would need to adapt and get the fire out with a structured plan. They are all interconnected. Curiosity and creativity are more connected to adaptability. One way to adapt might be via creativity and the other is more on this structured, detail-oriented way.

I’ve had a lot of experts on the show and I’ve asked them what comes first between curiosity, creativity, and motivation, you name it. They all will say, “Curiosity is a spark.” A lot of companies are trying to fix things like adaptability, innovation, engagement. If you don’t spark that desire to be interested in something, it’s tough and that’s why we’re losing so much money in all these research studies showing engagement is down, everything is down. It’s important to lead to adaptability. Nobody had to be more adaptable than we’ve had to learn the importance of it. I’m curious about what you think are the principles to adapt and thrive in the future workplace.

[bctt tweet=”How and why do people differ at work, and how do they become creative differently?” username=””]

It touches on what you said that there is this fear of curiosity, this spark that might help us to adapt in big ways. There is another way to adapt. We have to adapt, which makes us adapt in a systematic way. In this period where we have the COVID crisis, we have political unrest, which crystallizes all the things that were happening the years before like with technology change, work change, etc. We must adapt so much. The most important thing that we found in our research is that there’s no one way to adapt. There are at least two ways to adapt. One is we need to adapt to massive big change and the other is to adapt systematically and incrementally. You need both to be successful over time.

What we then also saw, touching on the research by Tory Higgins from Columbia University, it’s his idea. At twenty years old, he came up with the idea that people are motivated towards goals in two fundamentally different ways. There is no one way how I want to achieve my goal. There are at least two ways. Let’s say that people are motivated for big goals, achieve growth, etc. The other is they’re motivated for security. I do something because I want to have a safe job. I want to fulfill my duties, etc. Based on those two ways, they completely have different behaviors. It’s not only why someone changes and adapts, but also how they do it. The first will be fast and think big but make mistakes. The others make less mistakes and are more structured and detail-oriented.

Especially executives, in my opinion, when I worked with them, they think that employees are more or less motivated the same way like them, motivated to achieve a big goal, motivated by growth, motivated by the rewards, by the salary, by moving fast, etc. They’re telling all the employees to adapt, in a sense like, “Let’s go to China and we’re going to get more market share. We’re going to overcome the Corona crisis by getting the highest salaries and big goals.” The employees, half of them, it doesn’t talk to them because they want to hear, “Let’s do that so I can keep my job. I can be secure. I can fulfill my work duties.” If I hear that, I get overwhelmed and stressed. That’s somehow missing right now. We instill this lens to adapt to different types of people. We want everyone to do the same thing. The next way will be, who are the people? How can we fit our solutions or change the methods, our ways of motivating these types of people?

You write about individualization of work and the way we look at individuals. You can’t box everybody into it. Sometimes it’s fun to take personality tests where they tell you what your type is and all that. I don’t think it’s meant to categorize people so much as so that you can understand your preferences and you understand the opposite of what you are. It’s what I find the most important because you know what you like. To understand other people, you have to have this sense of empathy which a lot of people struggle with. We’ve tried to make things all cut and dry and easy. Do you think we need to focus more on the individual and get to know them in not an overall way? Is that possible in the workplace?

The problem is we have this culture of life hacks. The one way to find the best way to perform at work is by waking up at 5:00 AM and having ten goals to do this, that, and this and then eating this type of food and doing that type of yoga. We have this culture of where there’s this one best way of how you’re supposed to thrive and work. At the least at times, it’s not true. We have different types of people that will have different ways of how they best work, which goals talk to them and which not. It can be dangerous if you give someone a goal that is completely against their inner way of how they’re wired. That is dangerous and creates lots of stress and pressure in the workplace.

An example, I was in Silicon Valley and my friends work there. They had this party with the Facebook techies, the Google techies, things and people, highly qualified, the typical tech scene. I was there at this party and I was like, “How’s life?” They were like, “I need to run to work. While I’m at work, I’m going to listen to my audiobook in the car. I have ten minutes for yoga and a lunch break. Afterward, I can pick up my kids. We can go to the organic store.” I was like, “This is crazy.” For some people, that might work. Everyone is doing that and this is stressful.

It’s against what science says is how we differ in what motivates us, how we differ and how we can perform at work. This might be the next big wave that has moved to this individualization of performance systems, of motivation, of measuring heavy work. You cannot have one million different ways. We still need some old lenses like sometimes, personality tests or maybe assessments of curiosity and ways to structure our thinking. We need some lenses, but one way is completely wrong.

It’s tough to make everybody try and conform to a certain idea. Especially generationally, it’s different too. They found out a lot of that with the Boomers and the Millennial all those conflicts and things. A lot of it was exaggerated because it made good press. There is a lot of change in the way they’re doing things. It’s a lot less formal. It’s interesting to watch everybody pivot. I do get a lot more experts on the show talking about mindfulness and much more. You call it the mental health tsunami. Are you referring to the opposite, that we’re getting to many mental health issues and that we need to look at that? Are you looking at how people are dealing with their mental health when you say that?

TTL 778 | Workplace Well-Being
Workplace Well-Being: It’s not only why someone changes or adapts, but also how they do it.


Both. On the one hand, it’s good that we’ve talked a lot about it. Especially on your show, you have lots of people in mindfulness and transformation and how to deal with emotions, etc. It’s great. The mental health tsunami, most of us being at home, dealing with a completely challenging situation of Corona, or losing your job. Not being able to do all the things that normally we would do that give us the resources, like going to the cinema or going to the gym, meeting lots of friends because we cannot do them. We have the stress on the one hand and on the other hand, our resources go away.

Why I call it tsunami is because we did this small study with a business school and AQai, the adaptability people. We had about 1,000 people before Corona where we asked them how adaptable they are, what they do, what their personality is, etc. We were like, “Wouldn’t that be the perfect experiment to follow up with them and ask them what they did? How did they adapt or not? How do they feel because of this Corona, the biggest time for that ever?” We followed up with 200 people.

I remember when I was looking into the results, I was shocked to see that about 28%, nearly 1/3, would be classified to have a major depressive disorder. I put the screening criteria for major depressive disorder. Based on that, they would likely be classified to have a major depressive disorder. It was even a mystery they could get out of that. Another 25% was stressed that they could not get on with their work and those were working adults that had a job and had a median income of about $65,000, what we call middle class. There was clearly a problem with mental health. The scary thing is that we could see that 20% of them already were completely burnt out at work. The tsunami is coming. As soon as we are done with the health effects of Corona, then we need to care about the mental health effects because there’s going to be a big problem coming.

I worked as a pharmaceutical rep for a long time. It was scary to see how many prescriptions the doctors wrote for people who were sometimes what they used to call worried well. They weren’t sick, but they were having issues. I am happy to see a lot more of the meditative type of cures. I’m wondering how much we’re going to see people getting drugged up from all this. These doctors sometimes do that because that’s what they’re trained. In real estate, we would say, “If you hire a mold inspector, he’s going to find mold.” If you’re going to a slippery place, you’re going to slide. I’m married to a doctor. I’m not anti-doctor. You have to recognize that’s what they’re trained to do, to give you medications. I worry that we’re going to see more of that.

I would love to think that people are looking into this and recognizing that there are alternatives to feeling better to do things that work in the workplace beyond drugging yourself. I know you write about some of these things. You mentioned something I thought was interesting about the science, life coaching, and things that HR professionals should know. Do you think that, in the companies, we could prevent that sense that we need to go to a doctor to cure everything and that we can work on some preventative measures to help with all of these things? What science are you talking about that you think HR professionals should know?

There are two things here and one that I agree completely with you that the quick fix of taking a drug to feel good, it’s definitely not the right way. Sometimes you must do it because it’s a clinical condition. It would be mean not to give it to someone. Especially in a company, we have this unwritten rule that you must be happy all the time. Only a successful employee will be someone who is happy and smiling and awesome and perfect all the time, which in itself would be called mania. It’s a clinical condition. What I meant is that we lose our ability to feel that and to go on with our life. In a company, in the sense of, there will be employees and most of us will have that base. Instead of trying to make them happy all the time, we should build their resilience muscle to deal with negative emotions.

One thing HR managers can take out is, how can I make sure that my employees, who will at some point feel that and have problems, can feel that and still continue working? Can I create a safe system, like a container? We tell them okay, “We are there with you. If you feel bad, you can still continue working here. It’s absolutely fine.” Can we give them a training, it might be a mindfulness training, to deal with those emotions? That emotions are not that important anymore. It’s something that’s there but it lingers on, but I can go on with my life. What can we do as HR managers to build this resilience muscle for employees who sometimes also feel bad? We hope that, at some point, they will feel better again. That’s life. We will feel bad at some point. We will feel good at some point. We must train our way to be uncomfortable.

[bctt tweet=”There are two ways to adapt in the workplace: in a massive way and in increments. Both are needed to become successful.” username=””]

The times here, it’s based on this 2nd or 3rd way of psychotherapy called the ACT movement or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which says, instead of trying to argue our way around, “I feel bad.” I could have cognitive behavioral therapy and tell myself, “I shouldn’t feel bad. It wasn’t that bad, etc.” I argue myself out of it. The ACT therapy movement says, “Maybe trying to argue with yourself won’t work because you will find one million reasons why you still feel bad.” I could accept it. Not that I’m saying it’s good, but accept it like a small child that annoys me. I don’t like a small crying child, it’s annoying, but I accept it and I still move on with my life. I commit to my goals despite feeling bad. Over time, I will learn that those bad feelings are not that bad. I can continue going on with my life. Suddenly, paradoxically, I wouldn’t feel as bad. The other way, the less I try to be happy, the happier I get because I don’t care that much that I’m not happy. I’m not always like, “I should be happy. Why am I not happy? Now I’m even less happy.” That’s one big thing.

That ties into how you weren’t happy in your McKinsey company. I was not happy as a pharmaceutical rep. You start thinking. You do this inner talk in your brain. People say, “What a great job you have. You should be lucky.” You get yourself locked in those golden handcuffs because you think, “I’m never going to make this much. You’re never going to get these benefits.” The never talk, it goes in a lot of people’s heads. A lot of the happiness that people feel or don’t feel goes back to the curiosity. How much are they allowed to explore? Do they allow themselves to explore the things that might make them feel passionate about something? It’s been killed in a lot of people, that sense, that desire, either through our education system or environment. Even in social media, if you post something and people don’t like it, you’re crushed and you take it down. How much pressure is there by society to stay in certain jobs and do certain things that maybe we’re not even passionate about?

Sometimes it feels like, “It’s dangerous to be too curious. It might shake up my life. I’d rather not think about it.” What happens is you have, for instance, in Zurich, lots of partners and consultancies or investment banks that are alone living at the lake are rich and sad because they’re not curious. They lost their curious fire. You’ll wonder how you could overcome this.

You’ve talked about finding your niche. It’s hard to know where you’re meant to be aligned sometimes. A lot of people think they have to have one thing only. That’s their whole life goal, their whole purpose. Do you find that you have to do that or can it change?

It can change. At least, it changed for me. The signs were clear. You will not be born without a life purpose. Let’s say the heaven opens and then the angel came and tell your life purpose. It’s like work. It’s finding it, refining it, working towards it, which is empowering. If you’re a student, either you have a life purpose or not, and you don’t have it, then you will probably not move on. Your life purpose might come with work. You might grow it. It’s like a growth mindset. You might work on it, then it’s much more motivating because, “Maybe I don’t have it yet, but I can still find it. I can still work on it. It might change. If it changes, it’s not the end of the world.”

The other way, it would be fixed and you have one life purpose. At 45, suddenly you find out this is your life purpose. If it will be fixed and you have one, I guess you will have a big midlife crisis. If you know, “That was my life purpose before and I would change it,” that will change. It will be much more empowering and much more relaxing because it puts this pressure out you think of, “You must have this one life purpose to be happy.” It’s my view.

You don’t know what opportunities exist. If your life purpose was to be a telephone operator, you’re in trouble because we don’t have those anymore. We have social media managers or some other different kind of jobs. You can’t even know what’s going to be the next big thing years down the road. A lot of people have no idea what the COVID situation is going to cause to create new innovations, new ideas. There could be entire industries created that we didn’t even think about. It’s hard to know. I never ever thought I’d want to get a PhD or teach or do half the stuff I’ve done. I never even considered it when I was young. Sometimes you fall into things. What made you want to get a PhD?

It’s two things. I did my Master’s in Oxford and I was like, “You’ll do a PhD.” I didn’t do it, I worked, and I was like, “I should do it.” That was the first time I started. The second one, when I then came back from my HR position, was to find out why some people are more creative than others, and do they differ? I wanted to dig into that, finding it out and trying to find tools to teach them. More and more, when I think about it, it’s also the freedom. If you’re lucky, you’re completely free to research whatever you want and that’s a luxury, and I’m grateful for that. I would have never met you.

TTL 778 | Workplace Well-Being
Workplace Well-Being: We have different types of people that will have different ways on how they best work and which goals talk to them, and which don’t.


What was the title of your creativity dissertation?

Long story short, it was about why some people are more creative than others. It moved more into maybe why people are differently creative. Some people are more creative by being original and novel and others are more useful for a problem. That’s why it’s hard because you need to bridge those two things. Most likely, it is dependent on your motivation type. If you’re motivated by big growth goals, at threshold you will have more original creativity. If you are motivated by structured, secure goals, you will have more useful creativity. The most interesting thing is that I have this mind on either this or that, but there were some people in the middle that could do both at the same time and they were the most creative.

Do you consider yourself creative? People ask me that sometimes. Even though I created things, I never thought of myself. If you think of creative, the people who can draw, people that sing, people do artsy, creativity things. Solving a problem, those are different forms of creativity. Where do you think you fall on the spectrum of creativity, high or low? Of the different types, which one would you place yourself?

I’m more on the original type, finding new solutions by connecting various different dots, which sometimes brings me in trouble because I’m not good with details. I’m bad at details. I’m terrible at details.

What do you mean by details? What details don’t you do well? I’m curious.

Starting from not paying my bills to having this amazing big plan of all the things I want to research and then figuring it out, “I still have to do all the statistic programs in between and all the little steps,” to writing a book and then forgetting the title.

What would you like to research that you haven’t researched yet?

[bctt tweet=”Executives and employees working together is key in achieving business success and a healthy working environment.” username=””]

I want to go more into the well-being. The idea is there are different types of people. Maybe there are also different types of interventions of why people are happy at work are not that fit to a person. We still have this idea that anyone will get the mindfulness retreat or everyone should get this type of therapy. Maybe there are different ways that work for one type of person better than the other. The other thing, it’s a bit connected to your research. Maybe creativity or curiosity itself is a way to feel better. There’s some research around that. You can use curiosity to be happier or to de-stress. In itself, it could be something that a manager would want the employees to do, not just to be curious, but maybe to feel better at work. That could be an interesting part of research as well.

It is. I extended my curiosity research when I researched perception because I thought that was fascinating to me about how everything doesn’t all work for one person that works for another person. One of the things a lot of people have a lot of issues within the workplace is they get frustrated because people don’t see things their way. Having written my dissertation on emotional intelligence, empathy was always something I like to research more about. If you’re curious, you’re more likely to be empathetic because you’re asking questions about other people. You’re learning about them. You’re able to put yourself in their position and think from that perspective. When I looked at perception, I found it is a combination of IQ and EQ, but also CQ for curiosity and CQ for cultural quotient.

What they do in Spain is different from what they do in London and it’s different from what they do in the US. If you’re trying to run a global business, you’ve got to be adaptable. One of those adaptability things is to be able to see things from different vantage points. My work with Dr. Maja Zelihic, I created this Perception Power Index. It looks at those different factors. It’s about evaluating, predicting, interpreting, and correlating to come to these conclusions. It’s a process. I’m curious if you looked into any perception-based issues in any of your research. How important do you think that is in the business?

It ties again into two different types of people. The thing I’ve talked about, about those motivation types, you can give the same type of ad to those two different types of people and they will have completely different views on what they saw on the ad or not. For instance, if you tell you have an app for some juice and you say, “This juice will make sure you do not get a heart attack.” Stress security. The type with a growth motivation, they don’t want to see this ad. It will not register that much, “That’s it, whatever.” The people that have the security motivation style, they will see it and will be much more likely to buy it than if there would be something that doesn’t stress security, that doesn’t stress something in line with their perception.

Managers especially should be aware that their messages might not be perceived by the employees. It might not register with them because, let’s say, the filter is completely different. We always think that people will perceive exactly the same as us. We must make sure, maybe they won’t see it that way. Not because they’re bad people or lazy, but they’re simply the filter that doesn’t see it. Perception is important and not an agenda.

It ties into diversity training too. I know you’re an expert to Pluribus, previously on IBM and different groups. You talk about diversity. It’s such a hot topic, but it encompasses so much. When you talk about that, what do you focus on?

When I talk about diversity, it’s a small boutique consultancy called Pluribus. The idea is how do we help companies to improve their diversity? We take the image of inclusion because the idea is not to increase the share of diverse employees for the sake of it but to create a culture where diversity will be valued. The problem is that companies that do not do that, that don’t have a culture where inclusion is valued if anything, diversity will be harmful. The performance will go down because either people will have conflict or they will classify into subgroups, which would even be worse. The worst that a company could do is increase diversity without having any culture and then you would have subgroups of a business minority X group, the LGBT, the old white men, whatever we all are in those groups. On paper, we’re diverse. No one talks to each other.

I won’t say the company’s name. If you go to jobs that have highly specialized service professional companies, those companies where people would love to work in Wall Street after they graduate, you will see their drawbacks. You will see beautiful people, different colors, different ages, whatever, but it is in the sense we accept everyone here. You can be gay, black, old, young, whatever, as long as you are exactly like us.

TTL 778 | Workplace Well-Being
Workplace Well-Being: In life, we will feel bad and we will feel good at some point, but we must train our way to be uncomfortable.


The idea is you must lose all your diversity until you look exactly like us. That’s what you see at those job apps. They’re all the same even though they think they’re still better and that’s even worse because you think you’re diverse but everyone becomes the same. That’s why we stress inclusion so much. It’s not only about diversity. It’s about creating a culture where you can bring in your differences. You don’t want everyone to be the same. You want to bring in your differentness and be included and then we might have more creativity. Sometimes it’s like you have more creativity, more different thinking, more people that shout out if something is wrong and if something doesn’t work, etc.

I’m teaching a class and the discussion question is about fitting into a culture. That’s exactly what we’re discussing. I remember in the ‘80s I sold computers. I was with a company that worked with IBM. Back then, we all had to wear blue suits, white shirts and bow ties. I can’t even imagine wearing that now.

Now we have to wear sneakers and electronic watches.

You go up to Silicon Valley and the men have to have the stubble beard. It’s funny to see how there’s a certain overall fashion or style, but then that’s a lot different than the thinking of what they expect you to say or how you’re supposed to conform. Sometimes they focus more on looks. We have black. We have white. We have female. We have male. As long as you think like we do, you can look like whatever you want. It’s the diversity of thought that makes for an interesting team.

I love having Amy Edmondson on my show because she talked about how they dug out the Chilean miners under the rock during that disaster and how they all work together. You couldn’t get a more diverse group of people who never work together ever in the past. All of a sudden, they had to come together to fix this horrific situation. It took curiosity to build that collaboration. If you had all people from NASA or all people from one group or another group, they might not have gotten them all out. You want to have that. It’s important to look outside your company sometimes for ideas. I wrote about that in my curiosity research. A hospital in London used a race car team to help them figure out efficiency. You teach a lot of different courses. Do you teach any examples of those things where outside industries or outside situations have led to much more diverse, interesting outcomes?

Not this directly. When we do workshops for executives for improving diversity, we sometimes use the idea of diversity. Often, when you have those diversity training, it’s like, “We have to do this. We need to improve diversity because it’s good for business. We are also bad because it’s X, Y, Zed.” We tried to reframe it from the curiosity perspective. Let’s imagine how a diverse company would look like. Let’s be curious about what is an inclusive culture.

Let’s have this playfulness. Let’s take away the heaviness of this whole subject of improving diversity and inclusion, but bringing in a bit of playfulness and thinking about the situation. You involve the people to get out this heaviness, “This must be done,” etc. That’s one great way to kick off discussions in companies for diversity. We need this playfulness mindset, curious mindset. How could it be? For the sake of it, what would an inclusive culture look like? The opposite, for the sake of it, what would happen if we would be all white men in our 40s? What would happen? Let’s be curious. I’m not saying it’s bad or good. That’s a good way of experiencing what diversity and inclusion can do.

[bctt tweet=”It can be dangerous if you give someone a goal that is completely against the inner way of how they are wired.” username=””]

You work as a professor at Spain’s leading university. What are you teaching? Are you doing research? I’m curious about what you do with the university.

I started at this university here in Spain on February 2020 and then we had Corona. All the classes got online, but we managed. I was teaching bachelor students on organizational behavior. My idea was you have to see it that way. The smartest students in the country that starts work that study. Spain was in crisis for a lot of time. With the crisis, they lost a bit of this belief that we can do something. We can change something in work, etc. What I teach is, how do we behave? Organizational behavior. How can we motivate ourselves and motivate others? What can we use to understand why people behave in the workplace? My hope is that one day when they start working is that they understand, “That’s maybe why my boss was in a bad mood. That’s why the team is not working because we never talked about the conflict. That’s why I’m not getting my goals done because I’m using a completely wrong system.” That’s my hope.

That ties into perception. What people think is what’s happening versus their perceived idea of what’s happening. Don’t you think?

Exactly. You had Bandura on the show.

Yes, I did. It’s quite an honor.

He stressed how important mindset is that then influences our perception. He’s right. I try to tell that to my students. Your mindset of what you can do in a company will decide if you do it or not. For the sake of it, try to think it’s possible. As a little experiment, try to think you can change your career. You can get that job even in a crisis. You have all the tools. You graduated from a good university.

I have high hopes for my students when they graduate. It’s a different time. It’s interesting to see the focus on what makes things tick and why behaviors are important. I love organizational psychology and all the things that you focus on. Is there anything else that you’re working on that we didn’t touch on? What’s keeping you up at night? What’s your next big thing? I want to make sure I covered everything that you do because you have such an interesting background.

What is keeping me up at night is the change in the economy. With the Corona pandemic, we see how work already shifted so much and where jobs already disappeared. Maybe in the future, jobs will disappear or whatever. It’s already happened in a few months. The World Economic Forum brought out this report, The Future of Jobs. They discussed that 40% of white-collar workers will have to change jobs and the jobs we think might not disappear. We always think of the blue-collar worker. The white-collar worker will be gone in a few years.

TTL 778 | Workplace Well-Being
Workplace Well-Being: Some people are more creative by being original and novel, and others are more useful for a problem.


Is it due to AI? What other reasons?

It’s AI. With Corona, we saw that we could do the job remotely. There are managers and executives who are realizing, “What’s the big difference? Someone is doing it in the home office here and their home office offshore? Both are remote and online. I can pay half and they might get double the pay and do double the work.” That keeps me up at night. Tech is this idea of the K-shaped recovery. For a few of us, the recoveries are already there. The stock market goes up. We can do home office, remote work, whatever. That’s the upper part of the K. We have this huge other part where it’s still going down. The jobs are gone. Who knows if they come back? There is no source of security, whatever. We must help them. How? I don’t know. That keeps me up at night.

It’s a crazy time. I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of the ramifications even begin yet. It will be interesting to see how long this will last. Everything that you’re working on is tied into the things that I found interesting. I knew that we would have plenty to talk about that was fascinating on the show. I know a lot of people are going to want to follow you and find out more about what you’re doing. Is there some website or social media or something you want to share?

I’m creating a new webpage. I’m mainly working with companies. I was thinking, “Why don’t I use some of the workshops or the tools for private people?” It’s called Personal-Advisor.Deuschel.com. I will most likely launch a small course on how to find a job as a professional, all the tips I learned in years as a recruiter or an HR, and interview prep, etc. I might be able to give some tools that worked in companies for executives and to everyone. Let’s see how that goes.

Thank you so much, Dr. Deuschel.

Thank you.

You’re welcome.

I’d like to thank Dr. Deuschel for being my guest. We get many great guests on the show. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Dr. Nicolas Deuschel

TTL 778 | Workplace Well-BeingOn this site, I share how I went from being an anxious, always pleasing and stuck in the rat-race professional to creating a well-paying career and fulfilling life on my terms.

Now I help ambitious professionals like you to thrive in their work-life (without sacrificing your soul and fortune to gurus or burning out in the process).

My main profession is a research professor at a leading university and an advisor to business leaders. Not selling you pseudo or untested advice. Instead, I show you science proven tools that fit to your professional challenge, so you see real rapid results.

As a professional with +10 years experience in highly competitive industries, I know how hard it is to keep growing and to find your way in this competitive work-word. Everything I show you, I tested on myself or implemented for my corporate and executive clients.

If you are tired of spending endless hours on success coaches and ‘transformation gurus’ you are right here. You will not find the ‘miracle quick-fix’. I offer you solutions and action steps, so you build the skills to thrive in your work-life on your terms. But don’t worry, I will guide you on the way.


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