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Exponential Talent

Author: Dr. Shreya Sarkar-Barney

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Join organizational psychologist, entrepreneur, and award-winning scientist-practitioner, Shreya Sarkar-Barney as she explores the scientific basis of human potential, performance, and flourishing in the workplace. In this podcast series on exponential talent, you will hear interviews with experts who reveal talent practices that have a multiplier effect. Shreya is the founder and CEO of Human Capital Growth, an evidence-based talent management firm. In 2019, Shreya was awarded the Scientist-Practitioner presidential recognition by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). Shreya is the author of the book “The role of national culture in transfer of training” based on an empirical study covering 49 countries. She is on the editorial board of the SIOP Professional Practice Series. Her research has been published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, Information Technology & People, Organizational Research Methods, and Personnel Assessment and Decisions. She has been a visiting scholar and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and tenure track professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Shreya earned her Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Bowling Green State University. She is an alumnus of the University of California Entrepreneurship Academy. Shreya lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and works globally.
15 Episodes
Humanity is experiencing an unprecedented level of loss and grief. More than 1.2 million deaths have occurred in the last 12 months due to Covid-19 alone. There's a good chance that each of us has within our close circle someone experiencing these challenges.  Yet, in the workplace, the topic of dealing with loss and grief remains a private matter.  In this podcast, I speak with Dr. Charles Dhanaraj on his research looking at the cost of grief in the workplace and the resulting impact. This work that he has been doing in collaboration with his colleague at IMD Switzerland, Dr. George Kohlrieser.  You will hear sage advice on handling grief at a personal level and tips for helping those around us who may be experiencing loss. His research shows surprising links between loss and creativity, which lends validity to the adage "all endings are the start of a new beginning." There are insights that all of us can put to work whether our loss is small or significant. More importantly, if you have felt unsure on how to help others address their grief, there's some actionable advice here.
Jim Detert is the John L. Colley Professor of Business Administration in the Leadership and Organizational Behavior area at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. Dr. Detert's research focuses on workplace courage, improvement-oriented voice (why people speak up or stay silent at work), ethical decision-making and behavior, and other leadership-related topics. This research, as well as his consulting experiences, has been conducted across a variety of global high-technology and service-oriented industries as well as public sector institutions, including K-12 education. His research has appeared in many outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organization Science, Personnel Psychology, Research in Organizational Behavior, and Journal of Business Ethics. Detert's research has won several academic best paper awards and is regularly featured in various online and print media outlets.Articles and resources on voice and courage by Dr. James DetertDetert, J.R., & Burris, E.R. 2016. Can your employees really speak freely? Harvard Business Review, January-February: 80-87.Detert, J.R., Burris, E.R., Harrison, D., & Martin, S. 2013. Voice flows to and around leaders: Is more always better for unit performance? Administrative Science Quarterly, 58(4): 624-668. McClean, E., Burris, E.R., & Detert, J.R. 2013. When does voice lead to exit? It depends on leadership. Academy of Management Journal, 56(2): 525-548.Burris, E.R., Detert, J.R., & Romney, A. 2013. Speaking up versus being heard: The disagreement around and outcomes of employee voice. Organization Science, 24(1): 22-38.Detert, J.R.& Edmondson, A.C. 2011. Implicit voice theories: An emerging understanding of self-censorship at work. Academy of Management Journal, 54(3): 461 - 488. (Recognitions:  Academy of Management Journal Best Article in 2011 Award,  Academy of Management Organizational Behavior Division Outstanding Publication Award for the Best Paper Published in 2011)To contact Dr. James Detert visit
In this podcast, we discuss the topic of the future of work.  We all want to know what jobs may go away in the future and what skills are likely to gain importance. While this topic has been gaining prominence in recent years, what’s missing is an organizing framework on how to think about the future of work in a way that’s actionable. Our guest, Dr. Fred Oswald, professor of Psychology at Rice University sheds light on all the influential contributing factors.  He also provides a useful framework for us to think about skills as it relates to the future of work.Dr. Fred Oswald is a Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the Herbert S. Autrey Chair of Social Sciences at the Department of Psychological Sciences at Rice University. His research focuses on the future of the workforce, the effectiveness of the workforce, the measurement of the workforce, and the analysis of the workforce. He is an expert in big data and advanced analytical techniques. In 2019 Fred coedited a book on workforce readiness and the future of work along with coauthors Tara Behrends and Lori Foster. Fred is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology and Advances in Methods and Practice in Psychological Science (AMPPS). He chairs several national committees, including but not limited to the National Academy of Science (NAS) and the Board on Human Systems Integration (BOHSI). Fred is a fellow and the past president of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). When Fred is not greatly enjoying his work with graduate students and colleagues at Rice University, he takes frequent neighborhood walks and occasional vacations with his wife Beth; he also plays Scrabble® well and pinball enjoyably. Links to Dr. Fred Oswald’s publications on the future of work:Oswald, F. L., Behrend, T. S., & Foster, L. L. (Eds.) (2019). Workforce readiness and the future of work. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.Beier, M. E., & Oswald, F. L. (2012). Is cognitive ability a liability?: A critique and future research agenda on skilled performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 18, 331-345.Hough, L. M., & Oswald, F. L. (2000). Personnel selection: Looking toward the future— remembering the past. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 631-664.Oswald, F. L. (2019). Open science, open practice: Future reality or pipedream? (M. Morrison & Chris Castile, Co-chairs). Panelist at the 34rd Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Fort Washington, MD.
This podcast was recorded during the HRWest 2020 conference held in Oakland, California. In this talk, Dr Shreya Sarkar-Barney skillfully leads her participants through a set of thought-provoking questions which reveals the value or lack thereof, of many common HR practices. She then guides the audience through a new operating model that positions HR on the critical path to achieving business success. She presents a decision-making framework similar to those used by financial analysts, that has the potential to drive exponential returns using quantified scientific evidence. She brings this new approach to life through a real-life case study featuring a mid-size technology firm that achieved the steep challenge of closing their revenue gap in two quarters. Listen to this podcast for a revolutionary new way to think about when, where, and how HR can deliver exponential returns. Shreya Sarkar-Barney, Ph.D. is the CEO and founder of Human Capital Growth (HCG), a talent management firm that specializes in innovating using science, analytics, and empathy. She works across diverse industries with organizations such as Cisco, Cognizant, Ecolab, Fidelity Investments, Merck and Microsoft. Shreya was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and holds an affiliate research scientist position with the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California. Her focus on using science-backed practices in driving better organizational outcomes won her the 2019 Scientist-Practitioner presidential recognition by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).  She serves on the boards of the HR Strategy Forum and the City of Vacaville, Economic Development Advisory Committee.  She is on the editorial board of the SIOP Professional Practice Series.Links:Sarkar-Barney, S. (2018). Why I care about evidence-based practice., S. (2018). What is integrated talent management., S. (2018). The future of talent analytics. 
Our guest in this podcast is a leader who exemplifies humility, courage, and the ability to envision. I first met Dr. Jim MacDonald in 2012.  It was in the early days of him taking over the leadership of the San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) and embarking on a major transformation effort.  I was fortunate to partner with Jim and his team on some of the change initiatives. SFTS was struggling financially, the trustees lacked confidence that the institution could survive, and many of the staff were openly critical of Jim’s plans for transformation. They were challenging times on all fronts. On several occasions, I was witness to  Jim’s in-the-moment courageous response to open attacks on his leadership. While giving voice to his team, he remained steadfast to the core priorities when many others would have caved.  At the time of this interview in 2018, Jim had successfully transformed SFTS putting it well on the path to financial stability. In this podcast, Jim shares his journey of turning around an organization from the brinks of bankruptcy to one that is innovating and thriving in a stressed sector.  Leaders who are shepherding transformation will find inspiring lessons to get through the most challenging times.
Hariraj Vijayakumar is a business leader turned chief learning officer and now an entrepreneur. I first met Hariraj when he was a learning leader at Cognizant.  Hari saw the value of using analytics to improve learning outcomes much before it was popular. With a deep interest in science, Hari has been a proponent of evidence-based practice and an influential advisor in the design of our evidence-based talent management curriculum.  During his time as the chief learning officer at Cognizant, he reskilled his team in evidence-based talent development and leveraged it to drive innovation. His passion for innovation, evidence-based practice, and the ability to influence his staunches critics make him exceptionally good at what he does. In our conversation, we explore all of these areas and more.
​In this podcast, our guest Dr. Alec Levenson discusses why organizations struggle to derive value from their HR analytics efforts and offers useful suggestions for improvement. He offers ideas that are non-intuitive but have demonstrated results. For example, start with the right questions and the data you have, do not fall into the trap of doing fancy analytics when sometimes simple descriptives are all you need and having analytics-driven insights does not guarantee accurate interpretation. Anyone struggling to get the buy-in for investing in analytics efforts or looking to tighten the link between data-based insights and HR decision making will find value in this podcast.
Worldwide, perception of discrimination have become widespread despite efforts to promote diversity. We asked Dr. Fiske if we humans are prone to discriminate against others. She describes how the motivational forces that help us survive also cause us to be biased and prejudiced, making it harder to control. In the course of our discussion, Dr. Fiske shared approaches to reducing discrimination that is more effective than diversity training. Some of the more interesting aspects of social cognition relate to the formation of first impressions which tend to overshadow our judgments. Dr. Fiske’s pioneering research reveals the characteristics that influence the formation of these impressions.  She shares strategies for managers to avoid falling victim to biased thinking, resulting from the shortcuts the mind takes to make sense of this world. This podcast is sure to intrigue those looking to gain deeper insight about their own thinking and why they do what they do.  For business leaders and HR professionals, there are practical answers to diversity and inclusion that far superior to diversity training.
​In this podcast, Dr. Victoria Davis discusses the 21st-century skills needed for HR to drive business results and deliver positive employee experiences.  Drawing upon her talent management experience at Marriott, Home Depot, and J.P. Morgan Chase she lays out the new skills that are essential for HR to rise to the challenge.  She discusses the options available for talent management professionals for advancing their skills. In particular, she compares the various HR and talent management certifications available in the marketplace and the unique value proposition of each. Expect to gain clarity on the future of work as it relates to strategic HR and human capital management.
​In this podcast Dr. Subramony describes the HR Value chain and the benefits it brings to organizations.  He discusses the importance of selecting the right set of practices and shares three key bundles of HR interventions that drive extraordinary outcomes. These are the talent bundle, the energy bundle, and the opportunity bundle. Listen to the podcast for advice on which one of these bundles is the most critical and has an amplifier effect. Dr. Mahesh Subramony, PhD is an associate professor of management and the director of the Center for Human Capital and Leadership at Northern Illinois University. He teaches various human resource management (HRM) topics and organizational behavior to both undergraduate and MBA students, and conducts research related to the measurement and development of strategic human capital. Mahesh has worked in the HR function for Ford Motor Company and Whirlpool Corporation; consulted with several organizations including the Caterpillar Corporation, Follett Higher Education Group, Manpower Corporation, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); and conducted practitioner-oriented workshops on human capital metrics. His research has appeared in several scholarly journals including Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, and the Journal of Management.
In this podcast, we speak with acclaimed leadership researcher and expert, Dr. David Day.  If your organization is looking for more effective ways of developing leaders, here are some innovative ideas based on the most recent evidence. Dr. Day weighs in on recent fads that claim to draw from the neuroscience of leadership and points to more promising areas that help prepare leaders to operate under increasing uncertainty.Dr. David V. Day is Winthrop Professor and Woodside Chair in Leadership and Management at The University of Western Australia Business School. Dr. Day's core research is in the areas of leadership and leadership development. He is the lead author on An Integrative Approach to Leader Development (Routledge, 2009) and the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Leadership and Organizations (Oxford University Press, 2014). He serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology and as a Consulting Editor for several other scholarly journals. Dr. Day is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He works with various organizations around the world on projects related to leadership and leadership development. Dr. Day was awarded the 2010 Walter F. Ulmer Research Award from the Center for Creative Leadership (USA) for outstanding, career-long contributions to applied leadership research.
Prof. Avraham N. (Avi) Kluger is a faculty member at the Organizational Behavior Unit of the School of Business Administration at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.  His research on giving feedback demonstrated that it can be detrimental to performance and that even positive feedback can cause deterioration in performance.  To explain the puzzle of the detrimental effects of positive feedback on performance, he proposed, with Dina Van-Dijk, that positive feedback reduces motivation when people do things out of a desire (promotion focus) and that negative feedback increases motivation when people do things out of an obligation (prevention focus).  For these works on feedback, he received several awards, including (a) the 1996 Outstanding Paper in Organizational Behavior awarded by the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management (presented August 1997 in Boston) with Angelo DeNisi  (b) the first William A. Owens Scholarly Achievement Award for the best publication in field of Industrial and Organizational Psychology during 1996 by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (presented April 1998 in Dallas) with Angelo DeNisi and (c) The 2009 Award for Best Competitive Paper by the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management with Dina Van-Dijk.
In our leadership series podcasts, we bring insights from leaders around the world. Our guest in this podcast was Mr. Pankaj Dubey, Managing Director & Country Head at Polaris India Pvt. Ltd., a 100% subsidiary of Polaris Industries Inc. Under his leadership, Polaris India successfully launched the Indian Motorcycle and Polaris Off-road vehicles in the local market. Mr. Dubey also serves as the CEO & whole-time Director at Eicher Polaris Pvt. Ltd. He has deep insights on the Indian marketplace and requirements for foreign multinationals to be successful in India. Before joining Polaris, Mr. Dubey helped Yamaha Motors expand in India through the launch of several successful brands. In 2016, he was honored with the “Top 50 Indian Icon” award, in recognition of his contributions to society and shaping its future.​​Mr. Dubey’s journey from humble beginnings to an enviable leadership position present lessons in optimism and tenacity.  In our conversation, he shared the guiding principles that have served him well and brought remarkable success.  Many of these were music to our ears and seemed plucked from an evidence-based handbook on leadership.  He shared stories of setting challenging goals, giving himself deadlines to achieve far-reaching goals, failing and coming back stronger using the learnings, and many more. He also provides guidance on succeeding in the Indian marketplace, the role of women in the workplace, and ends with some elevating advice for the youth of the world.
Our podcast with Dr. Ken Barr, an acclaimed researcher who has led several drug discovery teams around the world.  He is an MIT-trained Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry with several patents to his credit. He is currently the executive director and head of R&D Strategic Global Operations at FORMA Therapeutics Inc.  Previously, he was with Merck, Amplyx Pharmaceutical, Sunesis, and Abbott Labs.​We had the privilege of partnering with Dr. Barr on a project that resulted in the successful turnaround of a failing cross-border collaboration.  In this podcast, we explore what it takes to lead under challenging circumstances. Listeners will learn about leading breakthroughs and the importance of courage in addressing the elephant in the room. If you have wondered why some leaders are better in shepherding transformations than others, this podcast presents several answers.
Google ‘goal setting’ and you get close to 500 million search results. A popular business practice with many points of view, and some management gurus touting its inefficacy. What should leaders do – abandon setting goals and resort to “do your best”? This is the question we asked Dr. Gary Latham, the world’s foremost expert on the topic of goal setting. In this podcast, he shares the scientific-evidence on three types of goals: “do your best,” “specific and challenging,” and “primed” goals. Only one of these is backed by substantial evidence, and another bears great promise but requires additional research. Dr. Latham elaborates on the conditions that make goal setting work and what not to do. A must-listen for managers who set goals.
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