A CykoMetrix Production
Every week, the Spotlight shines on
an amazing professional with a story to tell and lessons to teach. Welcome to
the CykoMetrix Spotlight.
The following is an adapted transcript of the exchange between Sylvain Rochon, CMO at CykoMetrix as host, and Greg Magennis, Founder & Partner at Axiom Human Resource Development LLC. www.axiomhrd.com
Sylvain Rochon: Welcome to Psychometric Spotlight. My name is Sylvain Rochon. I am the Chief Marketing Officer at Psychometrics, a leading-edge combinatorial psychometric platform human data analytics company that brings the employee assessment industry to the cloud with instant assessments, in-depth analysis, trait measurements, and team-based reporting features that simplify informed decision-making around recruiting, training, and managing today's modern workforce.
Today, we have a Psychometric Spotlight on Greg Magennis. He is the founder and partner at Axiom Human Resource Development LLC, down there in the States, in Texas I think. Greg is a South African Canadian, so he's been everywhere. He doesn't know where he lives most of the time. I'm pretty sure he's traveled the globe, but he immigrated to Canada in August 1994 and then moved to the US in 2009.
So basically, you have no nation. You're everywhere, man. He has over 25 years of human resource assessment and leadership development, and performance management experience with a diverse group of North American organizations. His initial corporate experience began with the marketing and sales disciplines at SmithKline Beecham Consumer Brands in South Africa, and National Brands Limited also in South Africa.
Greg has helped to grow three private companies since he arrived in Canada and the USA and founded his own company, Axiom Human Resource Development, LLC in 2003. Greg spends his time developing coaching businesses, for-profit leaders, and growing an executive search firm with his wife, Lisa.
That is a great story. I like the globe-trotting there, Greg. Nice of you to join us in the spotlight.
Greg Magennis: Thank you so much. Sylvain, I just love your sense of humor, I don't know how you would describe my status. Certainly, I feel very connected to both South Africa and Canada and deeply grateful by the way for Canada welcoming me as Canadians do.
Sylvain: With an apology?
Greg: No, not the “sorry” apology. I landed in August 94 and moved to
Calgary that December. That was my first home. Because of that I'm a Calgary
Flames fan and identify with being an “Albertan”. I also see myself as an
unofficial ambassador for South Africa and Canada down here in Dallas,
Sylvain: Well, your career has brought you to all these places, and
you've been a business leader, a creator of enterprise in all three nations, in
an arena that we care about, which is human resources and coaching and of
I'd like you to talk about
assessments a little bit, because speaking with you before, you use assessments
as part of a journey to help leaders evolve, not only by getting a little touch
up but getting down to a process that I'm assuming gives really good results.
Can you tell us about that process?
Greg: Yes. Thank you. Just to backtrack, when I arrived in Canada,
most “traditional assessments” were still in the domain or in the hands of
professional psychologists, and a few “psychometric test providers”. My
brother, Sean Magennis, had purchased a license to distribute “psychometric
tests” in Canada from a UK Parent Company. I was trained on them in South
Africa before immigrating. He asked me to join him in building his Canadian
business – that’s how my experience with assessments began.
At the time, one of the
few other local Canadian assessment companies was McQuaig Institute, and their
“McQuaig Word Survey”. Some of your listeners from Canada might be familiar
with McQuaig. My brother had partnered with “The Caldwell Partners, which
provided an entree to senior VPs of human resources and CEOs, through this
approach we like to think that we pioneered the idea of bringing assessment
into the daily workings of management and teams.
We promoted that
assessments should not be used only in the recruiting cycle, but also as part
of onboarding and regular check-ins, and as part of a coaching and development
cycle with people leaders and within all levels of organizations. It's taken
time, but I think you're seeing so much more adoption of assessment,
particularly with the advent of the internet.
When assessment is
imbedded in the annual tracking of a leader’s or individual contributor’s
development and growth plans it allows for a real focus on closing identified
gaps and areas of strength that should be reinforced. The results that accrue
from a consistent assessment process over time, far exceed a process that leaves
development and coaching up to “chance”.
When we began,
assessments were still, in large part, completed in a “paper-and-pencil”
format. Our original training taught us to score these assessments by hand and
then to be able to type out a report based on the scores. Our language,
writing, and descriptive skills had to be particularly honed to generate a
professional report. Think about the time that took versus what we now have in
literally milliseconds. It’s amazing to reflect back on the work the computer
programmers and report writers put into the “expert report generating” software
engines, and how that was the “early days” of what we now call “AI” or more
accurately “machine learning”. So, I feel like I'm dating myself in some
respects, but it's very cool to have started out in paper and pencil, and
literally hand-typing some of these reports.
Sylvain: Yeah, that's right. The times have changed. Now you can have
instant results as soon as the data is in, basically. The computer crunches the
numbers and produces a nice, visualized report. That is something that we've
done, and many, many have done that.
So, tell me about how
assessments are applied in your business? For that continuous development
journey, how do you apply these assessments today?
Greg: Great question. It starts with the preparation and the training
of an organization if they're utilizing assessments internally, and/or, if they
use our consulting services. We like to empower organizations we are working
with the knowledge and training that will equip them to “utilize assessment” as
part of their recruiting, development, and coaching, initiatives. At minimum, following
the guidelines for the use of assessments laid out in the EEOC legislation, but
also considering how they intend to use and store the data collected over the
long term. Using assessments without a specific stated outcome and appropriate
approach can be very expensive and often detrimental if not thought through.
How we treat people, as
it relates to information that we're asking them to give us or assessments that
we are asking them to complete, is foundational.
Based on the outcomes
and organization wants to achieve we can then examine which “types” of
assessments would fit into their needs. There are some assessments that are good
at picking up nuances or changes in behavior over time. Our partners at Axiom
Software have built an outstanding behavioral and team assessment as an
example. Then there are the newer “five-factor” models, along with cognitive
assessments, and 360 feedback assessments that all can play a role. Some roles
are ideally suited to certain assessments where speed and accuracy in a role,
or precision, is a major part of the deliverable needed for success. These
could be mechanical roles, or certain roles that are very task oriented where
skills can be accurately measured by assessments.
We have focused a lot
on the “behavioral side” along with team assessment and on the career journey “contribution
journey” as I like to call it.
Checking in on a
regular basis, at least annually, is an important part of success, where
leaders and individual contributors are not just doing a “recruiting”
assessment but are given the data and insights they need to manage and “own”
their career and contribution journey.
Our challenge with most
organizations is to co-create a regular “virtuous development and growth cycle”
where we're checking in with people, letting them redo assessments, at least
annually, looking at what's changing in their results, and how the dynamics of
business and their own progress are constantly changing in relation to their
contribution. This approach is lending itself to people feeling more connected
to what they're doing, and more appreciated.
When leaders and
individual contributors receive these insights into themselves, whether it's
their own individual assessment or using 360 feedback, the ownership is
appropriately shared between the organization and the individual. It becomes a
“partnered approach” that is designed as thoughtfully as possible to achieve
the outcomes needed by all parties. My colleague, Adam Leonard, in his book “Integral
Life Practice”, refers to the “I, We, and It”. The Person, the Team, the
Organization/Stakeholders. If we cover off the needs of each, we are including
versus excluding and ensuring we are considering multiple perspectives.
Sylvain: How do you integrate that cyclical process? As far as I know, it
is a challenge for consulting companies, but it is very desirable for the
client and the consulting companies to have this stickiness and that the
engagement is continuous.
How do you manage to do
it in a practical sense? Do you have a process or a tool that you use that
enables that for you?
Greg: The tools that we are using are sophisticated. The challenge we
have is that most organizations have different HRIS & LMS systems. So, each
organization Is going to have a different platform, whether it's SAP or
whatever tool that they're using.
Some are still lagging
or have legacy systems that don't talk to one another as they attempt to layer
in some of the new systems like Workday, Weekdone, or Teamspace. So,
integrating the various assessment tools into these stems is a challenge unless
they have been purpose built to “plug-and-play “.
Integration comes from
working directly with the leaders themselves, and their management teams.
Having a commitment and buy-in is essential to have organizations utilze
assessment effectively over the long term. Having assessments part of the KPI
or OKR requirements for all jobs provides a measurement dimension that without
them becomes “subjective” and somewhat biased at best.
This is where I really
like what you and your organization are building.
Technology is enabling
instant check-in on results and taking away the “labor” that used to be
associated with “test administration” We work with a number of large
organizations and mid-market companies that are using technology like Teamspace
which focuses on a weekly rhythm of feedback and checkin within teams. If used
effectively, always the caveat, teams and the management of team’s contribution
can be dramatically improved. The more connected people are and the more
frequent the “feedback loops”, the greater opportunity teams and individuals
have to respond to the ever changing demands, and the “Dawn of Disruption” as
Mark and Dean Furman refer to this period in our lives.
360 feedback can be
very useful if designed and executed well. We recommend doing those on an
annualized basis or at least every two years, not as part of performance
management, but as part of individual and team development. If used as part of
“performance management”, they can become very punitive and therefore
Sylvain: So that brings the question of how. Like you said, there's a
perception and there's an approach to achieve this with the people that are
being assessed so that it doesn't feel like they're being bothered, or they're
being measured negatively, or some kind of negative outcomes may come out of
How do you approach
this issue to make sure that the people that are taking the assessments or the
ones that may have the highest likelihood of feeling offended or scared about
being assessed --- how do you get them on board into the cycle and excited
Greg: The values of the company and the commitments that they're
making to develop people come into play here. For example, the commitment to be
and become “a deliberately developmental organization” sets up a relationship
that looks at the “lifetime value” of an individual and their contribution. Organizations
that make this type of commitment are the ones that we look for. If they are
right up front as part of their values and stated commitment when people are
onboarded into their organizations, individuals come in knowing that the
commitment that the company is going to make is to allow them to develop and
grow as they progress within the organization.
organizations are moving so quickly, our environments are so “agile” and
“disruptive” that we believe development is also part of the puzzle of the
individual's responsibility, not just the organization. So, we're helping organizations
to embrace coaching and sharing how individuals can even coach themselves,
versus waiting for an organization to come along and say, wow, we've noticed
this, or we've noticed that.
It's becoming incumbent
on each of us to put our hand up and say, “these are my development gaps and
this is what I have found that can help me close those gaps.” If I'm not
tracking my own development as much as the organization is tracking me, I'm
going to miss out on accelerating where I want to go and where I want to
contribute. So, I see that as a massive opportunity going forward and we're
seeing more and more people take responsibility from early on in their careers
and not waiting for organizations to tell them what to do.
We are committed to helping
organizations to let go of the “career journey”, and to embrace much more of a partnered
and shared commitment between the individual contributor or leader and the
organization itself, we're not waiting for the development to happen, we're
initiating it together.
Sylvain: Right. So, a bit of a follow-up. How do you develop leaders specifically
in this environment, in these processes?
Greg: Developing or
“continuous growth” is not for the faint of
heart. It seems “corny” but it’s no different to exercising our bodies to stay
healthy in spirit, mind, and body. The process that I offer the leaders was
developed and refined by my mentor, Randy Parkin, a founder of the Covey
Institute in Canada. We call it “PATHS to Leadership”. Imbedded within that is another
leadership framework that was popularized by Peter Koestenbaum, where he puts forward
the idea that great leaders are exceptionally “self-aware and take action”.
Self-awareness is about
a “vision of the future” whilst simultaneously having the ability to “tell the
truth about the current reality.” Action is about “the courage to step outside
the box” and to “execute/make things happen ethically.” This is a leader who is
curious, present, and does not sugar-coat or bias their current reality, or
blame and point fingers elsewhere. They take ownership and understand their
current reality, but at the same time, have an elegant vision of where they're
going. (Obviously, this takes an “emotionally intelligent” individual, to have
the courage to operate this way. Daniel Goleman, the godfather of EI suggests
it the “difference maker.”) When I know where I am and I can tell the truth
about where I am, and I have a good idea of where I'm going, and I'm
collaborating with others, and we're checking in, the chances are that we are
going to arrive at the place are dramatically increased. It's like going on a
hike with a topographical map and a compass. We may deviate from the PATH
occasionally, but a great leader and team members who diligently examining the
map and use their compasses, invariably arrive at their destination. (Making
sure we all have the same “maps” is another challenge.)
Not all leaders want to
sign up for “providing a map and compass” approach. Navigating without them is perilous. In many
organizations that we deal with, when people engage with us, you can see and
feel that they start to become automatically defensive because they feel that
this process is going to be exposing them and it's going to create all sorts of
vulnerability for them. We support them to embracing it as, “wow, this is an
opportunity for me to get clearer on my current reality and where we're going,
and to be more courageous, but to execute and take action in an ethical
fashion.” (Sometimes teams are operating from different maps, or none, and no
one has a compass.)
Sylvain: I like it. I certainly like the authentic kind of approach and
self-awareness and execution. In our language, that would be the drive to
results. I totally get that.
can you give us a concrete case of training that you found particularly
interesting to illustrate a bit the journey of the process? Something
Greg: Yes, we love the use of the word “journey”, because when you
think about the beginning and the duration of our careers, it’s more like a
marathon than a sprint, even though we will need to sprint at times to get
things done. The journey can also be seen in terms of “lifetime value”, something
that I saw at Ernst and Young and while working with Philip Roark, who built
their “Alumni Technology Platform”.
What Ernst and Young
have done is they've said, "Look, you come into our organization, and you
are already an alumnus from day one." They treat people in a way that
those people would want to be treated because they know that you and I, if we
work for Ernst and Young, are going to leave at some point to further our
careers. We might join one of their client companies, or, start a company like you've started. Then, we
also might want to come back to E&Y at some point. They really understand
that life cycle, that “journey of the contribution” that individuals go on. Their
With that as the
backdrop, my most recent and high return “leadership journey” is one that I
have had the privilege of starting and now leading since 2015.
Trudy Bourgeois, an
amazing leader, and business owner, approached me to partner with her in
co-creating this “six-month learning journey”. There's an assessment on the
front end, and assessments as we go through the course of the journey. The
program, at its core, is all about value and impact, connecting across
differences, and building the leadership “muscles” of “inclusive leadership”.
Trudy brought her
“learning framework” of “Business, People, Self, and Organizational Leadership”
to bear inside of the program, along with David Emerald’s Empowerment Dynamic,
of which I am a decade and more long certified practitioner, where we guide
leaders in partnership with an employee they are leading, to rigorously own
their careers and their contributions.
We use an “intercultural
development” assessment, IDI, as part of the program to support “connecting
across differences.” The developmental opportunities in this area can be a game
changer for many. What we have found is that for there to be a real return on
the investment an organization makes, individuals have to do significant and
meaningful work, basically doing what we prescribe them to do. No development
or transformation will occur without a real and serious investment from the
A “growth mindset” is foundational
to all our programs. Since 2015, this six-month program has become one of the
most popular programs in leadership within the organization.
of the stated outcomes from this program is to drive retention. However, some
leaders do leave the organization post the program because of “unintended
consequences”. Individuals become very self-aware and very connected to how
they're taking action or executing through the course of the program. They
realize that in some instances, there isn't a career trajectory for them in the
organization, and they leave.
Some start to show-up bolder
and more courageous and they get “poached” because suddenly, their confidence,
in a humble way, comes online, and they realize that they could be contributing
a lot more. Organizations must be prepared for that. They must be prepared for
when they engage with individuals, and they start deliberately developing the
value and impact, and they may find that people need to leave. However, if
you remember my example of E&Y, people never forget an organization that
has invested in them, and they may come back. They will most certainly promote
the organization to others and hold them in high regard. The value of that is
Sylvain: Yeah. Wow.
Greg: The gratitude expressed by participants in the program, the
empowerment they experience, the increased commitment to the organization and the
increase in their productivity, are measures by that have allowed the program
to continue and flourish. It’s a true partnership with the organization, us,
and those that go through the program. We call it “the gift that keeps on
Sylvain: Well, that's really it right. Like when you're doing
consultations and just offering a service in general, if the outcomes for the
business are positive, well they'll re-invite you. Typically, yeah, even though
like you mentioned, on a micro level, there are some events that may seem on
their own, like bad events, like a person leaving.
One would say, well,
you're here to try to help prevent attrition. So, what's happening? Well, based
on what you're describing here, you're helping the individuals and the teams
figure out who should stay, and who is better off leaving. Because that person
that should be leaving also benefits the team most likely because that
individual would not be a good fit because motivations are misaligned, and the
culture may not be great, or that different aspirations and whatever that is.
I know in our
assessments we've told that story, another time we can talk about this, but
there is a way where you can identify potential individuals that require that
kind of discussion in there, and that's important. That's a healthy process
inside a business.
You want to keep the individuals that are committed aligned, they have a good time there. This is a very, very soft kind of mentality or soft skills, culture, purpose, alignment, all that stuff. If you can optimize that within a team through a process, through a journey, well, then you have a lot of growth going on.
And so, yeah, they want to hire you back. And what's cool about assessments, at least for me is that in many ways, you can measure the impact of the consulting presence through multiple assessments, and you see things change.
Greg: Yes, for sure!
Sylvain: For me, being a data guy, that's really important. How many times
have we been ourselves assessed and you get a report that says something about
you which is really cool, and then nothing's done about it? You may feel good
about the training, there was a fun time. But then, the ball gets dropped. So,
you feel like ultimately, it was fun, but it was kind of a waste of time in the
So, what is your plan?
Because this seems to be a disruptor in your approach, like in the way you're
doing things. What are your plans for your business to expand and expose this
type of process throughout the world? Do you have any big plans, or is it more
Greg: The challenge for programs like this, I think is the
interpersonal connection, being in-person. So, think about pre-Covid, because the
experience that we've had going through the pandemic lockdowns globally has
been obviously very, very difficult for people. The negative consequences have
been dramatic. But we were fortunate to have communication and learning
platforms that empowered us to stay virtually connected. The fact that you and
I connected virtually in this kind of environment is fantastic.
The “silver lining” is that
this organization committed to continue the program virtually, and we were very
lucky. This client, instead of saying, "Hey, we're stopping”, migrated
into a virtual environment. We had to “rejig” the curriculum and delivery to
fit with what is achievable in a virtual format. It has not been ideal, but it
has worked and the return in investment is still very high.
There's very little, at
least in my experience, that can substitute for that human experience, that
connection, that energy of learning from others in-person, and going through
that dynamic together.
In the future, I've
thought of building a more scalable approach with a combination of virtual
options and in-person. There are so many platforms that have emerged during the
pandemic, it’s now a matter of experimenting with the best and seeing what is
the most sustainable and cost effective.
The challenge for
people like me is that I love to be facilitating and enjoying the interaction
with facilitating a dialogue and experience that empowers others to develop and
I think there's a huge
opportunity but maybe you and I could have a discussion about how approaches
like this can be scaled?
We currently don't
offer a public program and just focus inside organizations. A public offering
that retains the intimacy of smaller learning communities may be a great
Sylvain: I think that's fantastic insights into how you do things in
generating continuous success and growth. This is the world we live in now. I
mean, most employees nowadays want to have growth. Just like your Ernest and
Young example. They want to have that kind of environment.
They want to feel like
they can grow, change companies, and improve themselves.
And it's become kind of
an employee market in part because of that, and you are tapping into that.
Basically, that desire and companies that want to tap into that for their own
growth as well. So, I would encourage anybody that's watching this or reading
this in an interview format, on print or online.
Well, you can contact
Greg. If you want to have access to his programs and his processes and
technology and ideas, whether you're in South Africa, Canada, the US, or
anywhere else in the world, I think Greg is going to be very welcoming.
This is an excellent,
excellent, program. I can tell. Thank you so much to be in the Spotlight,
Greg: Thank you so much, Sylvain. What a privilege to be here with
Sylvain: Thanks so much.
About Greg Magennis – www.axiomhrd.com
a "South African Canadian" who immigrated to Canada in August 1994
and moved from there to the USA in 2009.
over 25 years of human resource, assessment, leadership development, and
performance management experience, with a diverse group of North American
organizations. His initial corporate experience began with the marketing &
sales disciplines of SmithKline Beecham Consumer Brands, South Africa, and
National Brands Limited, South Africa.
Greg has helped to grow three private companies since he arrived
in Canada and the USA and founded his own company, Axiom Human Resource
Development LLC, in 2003. Greg spends his time between developing and coaching
business and not-for-profit leaders, and growing an Executive Search firm with
his wife, Lisa.
A graduate of Rhodes University in Business Administration,
Economics and Commercial Law, Greg is committed to a lifelong journey of
learning, continually seeking opportunities to make a difference and contribute
to the success of individuals and groups. His passion for people is
Greg feels privileged to have a wonderful wife and daughter and
his purpose is “Building Value, Authentic Influence, & Positive Impact.”
Greg Magennis - Purpose Statement “Building Value, Authentic
Influence, and Positive Impact”
Why: “Celebrating Life”
“For as long as I can remember I have always seen the light in
people’s eyes versus the darkness. I can feel what is possible for others no
matter what their age, stage of development, circumstance, or culture, may be.
I cannot choose for anyone, but I can be a stand for the possibility of their
best or highest-self emerging in a form that is completely unique to them and
their experience of their world. “Building Value, Authentic Influence, and
Positive Impact” is not a destination but a compelling vision of what is
possible. It calls for an authentic choice to be made to honor whatever is at
our core and to bring that out into the world whenever and wherever possible
for the benefit of self and mankind.
I can argue for what is possible in this regard, but I will not
argue for any limitation, real or imagined. I am an optimist and experience
life as a gift worth living fully, no matter what shape I am in. In turn I am
held accountable to build my own value, authentic influence, & make a
positive impact for my world and therefore there is nowhere to run and nowhere
to hide, just life in the raw, “hips over feet”.
It’s all about “Celebrating Life”.”
Gratefulness Top 10
1. God, Lisa, and Sydney
2. Health (5 Senses – Wow!)
3. Family (Parents, Siblings, Relatives)
4. Relationships, & all the challenges & tough time’s life throws at me, the brutal realities, and the fierce conversations.
5. Extended World Family (Special friends and Angels there at every turn.)
6. Ability to work, create, play, & make a difference
7. Food and water
9. To be alive knowing fully the fragile nature of life and that I am a mere mortal.
10. Earth (All its oceans, lakes, flora, fauna, and the creatures thriving in/on it.)
About CykoMetrix - www.CykoMetrix.com
CykoMetrix is a leading edge combinatorial psychometric and
human data analytics company that brings the employee assessment industry to
the cloud, with instant assessments, in-depth analysis, trait measurements, and
team-based reporting features that simplify informed decision-making around
recruiting, training, and managing today’s modern workplace.