In a snapshot, tell us about Steople and what you do?
The Steople purpose is to help create great places to work and business success. We’re a global firm of Organisational Psychologists and Organisational Development (OD) specialists operating across a broad range of organisations and sectors to enhance organisational effectiveness and build leadership capability.
Our core strength is helping our clients to drive positive behaviour change, ensuring new ways of working and behaving that really stick, drive productivity, innovation and realisation of business strategy. We support organisations to:
- Develop their business strategy.
- Understand and build their culture.
- Get the right people through psychological assessments in recruitment, talent mapping and competency frameworks.
- Develop the right behaviours through 1-1 and group coaching, high-performance team development, leadership development programs, and 360 feedback assessments.
- Support positive wellbeing, psychological safety and workplace civility through seminars, workshops, wellbeing leadership coaching and surveys.
- Support aligning individuals with organisational strategy through organisational design, career transition and development, and succession planning.
How did the concept for Steople come to light?
Steople was formed in 2009 in Melbourne by our founders Hayden Fricke and Jason Smith to combine the science and rigour of the latest evidence-based research with practical industry experience and pragmatism. Put simply, they were searching for how organisations could create real, enduring change at individual, team and organisational levels to stick out from the bandaid solutions that many consultants were getting a reputation for.
Fourteen years later, Steople now has a global footprint in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. We’re big enough to have a diverse team with experiences from all walks of life to support various organisations, but small enough to stick to our values and deliver great work for locals.
You mention on your website that ‘the business’ most valuable asset is their People’. Can you explain the reasoning behind this?
I’ll admit we have a bias as a group of organisational psychologists and OD specialists… we believe that people are the most essential thing in everything! So, the famous Richard Branson saying goes, “take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business”.
Can you think of times when you and the people around you have been highly engaged and motivated, felt a strong sense of psychological safety to speak up and make mistakes, had positive work wellbeing, and the flexibility and empowerment to get the work done?
What about times when you’ve felt disengaged or demotivated, the behaviours of the people around you have been below the line (toxic even!) with tones of disrespect and low trust, water cooler gossip was negative and bred more negativity, and you got to the end of the week feeling emotionally drained?
In each of those scenarios, what do you think productivity, collaboration or innovation are like? How about customer satisfaction? Or retention of staff, absences and HAPPINESS? One scenario will lift an organisation, the other can lead to stagnation or even crash and burn. People are at the centre of that.
A large driver of your business is to use ‘more analytics and less intuition’. How does this concept add value to the recruitment process for businesses?
As human beings, we are wired to be attracted to people that we perceive to be more like us. And why not – it’s refreshing and energising to talk with people who think and like us. You can see that natural bias (conscious and unconscious) can muddy our intuition.
The hottest topic now in the recruitment context is building a diverse organisation and recruiting people that will add diversity to your culture rather than just fitting in. Making fairer and more data-driven processes is essential to finding the right people here rather than relying on personal intuition (“gut feel”).
The same goes for building a great organisational culture. In our experience, people will describe what they believe their organisation’s culture is. Of course, some of what people think is accurate (you shouldn’t completely dismiss intuition!), but when we dive deeper for data with culture, engagement and wellbeing surveys (or any one of our wide range of evidence-based assessment tools), we find that an individual’s intuition has many blind spots! We like to gather and analyse a wider pool of data to ensure the right challenges and development areas are getting the right level of focus.
What have been some key drivers of success for Steople?
I believe Steople’s difference is that we engage deeply with every client to investigate the issues and get to the root of the problem. Our solutions are evidence-based, incorporating well-founded psychological principles and academic research. The outcomes provided are sensible, practical, and commercial.
As cliché as it sounds, I think our success comes from the values-inspired behaviours we try to demonstrate daily internally and with clients.
- Be authentic – authenticity to share our most genuine self
- Be a difference maker – relentless in our pursuit of driving positive outcomes
- Create trust – Safe to say what we really think
- Be courageous – showing compassionate directness with ourselves and our clients
- Find the fun – creating joy in the small moments
How long have you been working at WOTSO? What made your decision to choose WOTSO?
I’ve been at WOTSO since Jan 2023 and enjoying it! I’ve moved back to Tasmania after living in Sydney and Finland for the past 11 years (my wife is Finnish, and yes, learning Finnish takes a lot of work!), and I have two small children at home. Working from home was becoming distracting, so I searched for a coworking space. WOTSO came onto my radar as a friend’s referral, and I thought I’d give it a go.
Several months later, I’ve got a permanent desk here and really enjoying the WOTSO set-up, people and kitchen! It’s been terrific as I’m Steople’s only fully Tasmanian-based consultant, and the wide variety of great people here at WOTSO in similar situations makes me feel like I’ve got a team outside of my real team!
Finally, what are some exciting things can we expect from Steople in 2023?
We’ve recently released our psychological safety survey!
The academic literature in recent years has highlighted psychological safety as a critical driver of team effectiveness. As we looked around at how we could support organisations with it, we couldn’t find a comprehensive assessment tool for measuring it in a way that provided practical and actionable data, reviewed the drivers of psychological safety (human connection, inclusivity, courageous authenticity, open mindset, respect, consistency), was relevant to a wide range of organisations, and had good psychometric properties regarding reliability and validity.
So reviewed the literature, engaged a university and created a survey and series of workshops to assess and improve team psychological safety. Super excited about the rollout!