An interview with Jakub Jan Kučera, Chief People Officer at Revolgy
At Revolgy, no one will call him anything other than JJ. He has been working here for five years now, so I asked him how the culture of the company changed during that time. We also talked about what motivates him and how he works with the CliftonStrengths methodology from Gallup?
What motivates you?
At Revolgy it has always been the people – without a doubt. The positive impact that we can have together is becoming increasingly important to me as well. Whether I think about my role that is focused on the people or Revolgy as an entire team and a business, the longer I work here the more I realise how big of a change we're making.
I really enjoy combining the potential of the people with technologies. I think that in the long run, this connection will become the alpha and omega of this century. People should understand how the technology can help them, and where the added value of human work can never be replaced by it. Thanks to technology, humans can stop doing monkey work and we'll gain more space to contribute our actual potential in places that really need a human.
You mentioned a positive impact. What exactly do you mean by that?
I'll give you two simple examples. I'm borrowing them from my colleague Terka Háčková.
First example is the ability to work from anywhere. To have the access to all company documents from any device and any location. No matter whether you're at the office, at home or in Madeira. This flexibility is becoming a standard just now, due to the current situation in the World. We've been allowing businesses in Europe to do this for the past 12 years with Google Workspace and our expertise.
Another example concerns cloud infrastructure services. It's relatively simple too. Recently, we could read in the Czech media about the crash of a system of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, where businesses owners could apply for government financial support due to COVID. This couldn't have happened if they had their IT infrastructure in the cloud. Phrases such as “our servers burned down” or “something crashed” simply do not exist in the language of a company who runs on the cloud.
Which jobs are the ones that you think people will lose to machines?
There's been a large number of publications on this topic already. If you want to dive into it, a good place to start is this TED talk by Anthony Goldbloom. Machines will replace humans in frequent, high-volume tasks with a clear pattern of what to do under which conditions. Humans will be needed for when we encounter a new problem that's never been solved before, and we don't have the data on how to solve it yet.
The more important question here is, how can we, as humans, find new ways of working, and gain the expertise that can never (or at least not in the near future) be replaced by machines? I think it's important to develop such skills that will allow us to quickly familiarize ourselves with environments, where there's more questions than answers. If my expertise adds value to such an environment, and if through discussion with other team members, we can find the best solution to a problem, we create an important synergy. This is something that machines are far from over performing humans in.
And speaking of “jobs with high added value” I'm fascinated by the thought of how the role of a manager will be seen by the job market of the future. The fact that someone is a manager, doesn't necessarily mean that they bring a lot of value to the business. I think companies will need to re-think their leadership positions, find new ways for managers to bring more value to the team. This could be through more experience or a very specific expertise, coaching, creating better decision-making processes. None of these things however require a person to be a manager.
Speaking about leadership roles- how do you handle stress?
It's important to say that thanks to Revolgy I managed to get rid of fear from my professional life. I see that some people, especially in junior positions, are often “motivated” by fear. I.e. “If I don't do this and that I'll be in trouble, the boss will get mad”. This kind of negative, internal motivation and an overwhelming sense of responsibility used to cause anxiety for me as well. I managed to unload this almost completely.
How come, you got rid of fear?
It's because, at Revolgy, I got an opportunity to grow. I gained more seniority, knowledge, developed as a person but most importantly, that I enjoy my work very much, so I have the need to constantly improve my skills. The opportunity to work with a coach helped a lot as well. We didn't talk only about work-related topics. We got from coaching to different forms of counselling. By the way, in the Czech environment counselling still has a lot of negative connotations, which I think really is a pity. I often see that people unnecessarily suffer at work due to small things, or by making a mountain out of a molehill. It's most likely caused by the baggage of trauma they gathered on their journey through life. Counselling could help them let go of those trauma. In the years B.C. (Before COVID) we could at least vent to a friend over a pint. Now, unfortunately, we have to consciously search for other ways of coping.
How about stress caused by being overworked?
If it's a short term issue, it can be dealt with pretty easily. My strategy is to try to switch off, go dancing (editor's note: JJ used to professionally compete in ballroom and latin dancing) go skiing or cycling. Simply do some grounding activity that helps me stay in the present moment.
I've also learned to prioritise, and I think I'm getting better at it. It takes a skill to be able to say what's really important. A lot of people were brought up to believe that everything is important. In today's fast-paced World, this isn't a sustainable way of living. We are “over-informed” and it's critical to put some filters on it. For me personally, being competent, in personal and professional life is crucial. That's why I'm learning to cut back on the less important things. It doesn't come naturally to me, so I have to constantly watch out for it.
At Revolgy you're also a coach. Can you tell our readers more about the CliftonStrengths methodology from Gallup that our company works with?
Gallup Institut came up with the so called “Strengthsfinder” methodology, which describes dominant characteristics of a person. This methodology is based on research into why people are successful. Based on 50 years of development of knowledge in psychology, they created 34 different talents in 4 categories, which describe typical areas of human potential. Categories indicate what are the areas that a person has a natural gift for. What kind of tasks they're good at, what kind of work environment suits them best, where they feel energised. They also show some of the things a person isn't not handling very well.
How does Gallup influence the hiring process at Revolgy?
In the second round of the hiring process we ask candidates to take the Strengthsfinder test. This way we can better define what kind of person we need in our team, from a much bigger perspective. Our hiring isn't only about checking some boxes of required skills and experience to be able to complete a list of tasks, and what we offer in return. We have a pretty clear definition of how we want the given role to be fulfilled. What kind of other talents do we need in the team to be successful.Thanks to these tests we can better evaluate candidates.
Gallup and the whole methodology around it creates a good breeding ground for us to be able to name things correctly right from the start. Thanks to this, we are able to choose the right language to name things and communicate, and choose the most suitable environment for the person we barely know yet (as we've only met them for the third time). It helps us open up to each other and clarify our expectations.
How do you work with people at Revolgy based on their test results?
Thaim of my work is for every Revolgian to see themselves from a different angle. To be able to critically evaluate their way of thinking and gain distance from their emotions. If they manage to become more of an observer of themselves, they also become able to better manage themselves. During our coaching sessions people often learn surprising things about themselves. Then they can take this knowledge and work with it. A mere fact that you can accept yourself just the way you are is a huge step. Then it's up to you what kind of things you want to change and if/how do you want to move forward.
To what extent does Gallup influence the way each team works?
In each team, colleagues know each other's "talent matrices". Thanks to this, we have a common language and proven methodology on how to work together. Where do we feel our strengths are, what are some things we need others to help us with, and what kind of help can we offer to our teammates? It helps people gain mutual understanding. It removes assumptions and creates better synergy within teams and as such improves cooperation. understands and removes more assumptions, and I believe that there is greater synergy and cooperation. I believe that thanks to this, people interested in working at Revolgy will also find a better match with a team and a job they will truly enjoy. Take a look at our website, what positions we have currently open.