research highlights

How to bring about change? 如何带来蜕变?

Morphos is all about change. With change, there is learning, there is growth, there is opportunity, there is hope. We want change, but how to go about bringing change?
Kurt Lewin has a simple 3 step model for change:
Before we change anything, we must realise that there is already a “set” way of doing things (even though that may seem messy). Hence, for any change can happen, we need to first UNFREEZE by creating motivation for change through methods such as goal setting, reflection, self-assessment, etc. Existing rigidity due to systems and policies may also need to be dealt with, so as to allow for change.
CHANGE can bring about uncertainty and anxiety, fuelling the voices of those who resist such CHANGE. Hence, not only must we consistently and constantly communicate the CHANGE, we also need to gain quick wins to build the momentum towards the future. Depending on the needs of the moment, CHANGE may occur at the highest level of organisational leadership, or it may focus on the frontline sales staff.
It is important to realise that never-ending change may not be the most conducive for the organisation’s long-term growth. We need a clear purpose to focus our energies and sustain our efforts. Hence, we need to REFREEZE the positive changes by integrating such changes into our systems, policies, and culture.
Remember, the accomplishments today may be the status quo of tomorrow. Be the leader that continuously peeks over the horizon, and seeks for the future.
库尔特·卢因 给了我们带来蜕变的简单三部曲。
– Coach Louis Chin

Understanding the Y Generation

About Gen Y-ers

Generation Y-ers are people who are born in 1980s and early 2000s inclusively (Waterworth, 2013). In this era of globalization, Generation Y-ers tend to be socially and environmentally conscious. They are also prepared to move on when the deal no longer works for them (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). There are issues of miscommunication and misunderstanding when dealing with this emerging generation in the corporate world. Gen Y-ers are boundary-less and globally connected. Besides that, Gen Y-ers have grown up with an inflated self-esteem and the mindset that nothing is impossible is deeply ingrained in them(PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). They are usually more creative and have new insights about the world. In order to manage millennials, employers need to understand the needs of Gen Y-ers.

What makes Gen Y-ers remain in your company?

Career Development and Advancement

In today’s fast-paced world, if you refuse to learn, you will definitely LOSE OUT!  This is what Gen Y-ers is worried about. According to Wehrwein, Lujan, and Dicarlo (2014), Gen Y-ers are more concerned about career development and advancement compared to other generations in the current workplace situation. From the report done by Barclays (2014), it was found that 64% of Gen Y-ers in the UK cite ongoing career and personal development as most important to them. Thus, this proves that without a proper managing or guiding of career development in the current corporate setup, it is is hard to retain workers of this generation. Remember, Gen Y-ers don’t work for your company but work for their own career.


Empowering Gen Y-ers is a must! Gen Y-ers wants some authority and instant gratification in their work field (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). Based on a few research in different geographical areas, Gen Y-ers desires to work out on meaningful and interesting tasks(Montana, 2008; PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014; Spiro, 2006). They prefer challenging tasks rather than repeating the same and easy routine work (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). Furthermore, Gen Y-ers bearing a high expectation from themselves and others, therefore, they want their assignments linked to a more important goal (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). Due to the perception of work “with” organization not work “for” organization, Gen Y-ers tends to be waiting for order to complete their task rather than find the meaning in their task(Barclays, 2014). In addition, they wish to have direct and constructive feedback from their employers to know their strengths and weaknesses(Spiro, 2006).

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance seems to be an issue the corporate world is dealing with. Long working hours are not favored by Gen Y-ers although money is important to them. They take a serious look at family and community too (Spiro, 2006). They want to spend more time with their family and friends rather than working to earn one’s living. Travelling nowadays has become more common to us compared to the past 2 decades. Gen Y-ers has been raised up in an environment where family vacations are a major feature (Nicole, n.d.). This doesn’t means they are ineffective or lazy, it’s just that they prefer finish their work with just a few clicks (technology). Flexibility of work arrangement, work leave, and spatial flexibility practices of work-life balance have a huge direct impact on organizational outcomes in SMEs(Cegarra-Leiva, Sánchez-Vidal, & Cegarra-Navarro, 2012).

What to do when managing Gen Y-ers?

  1. Make FRIENDS with them

Spending some time with them, listening to them, and trying to understand them will help you a lot in managing this generation of people and improve your company performance. Based on Hansen (n.d.), Gen Y-ers enjoy friendships with co-workers and bosses they consider that as an important part of their career. They are willing to stay longer in jobs simply because they love the people around them.

  1. Make them feel you CARE

To keep the employees’ motivated, engagement of managers is important for them. One of the effective methods to retain Gen Y-ers is coaching (Spiro, 2006). The consistency of coaching motivates new graduates to take on more challenging work (Spiro, 2006). By doing this, Gen Y-ers grab opportunities to reach their potential and extend their creative abilities to the next level. At the same time, coaching helps them identify and understand their weaknesses (Spiro, 2006). On the other hand, constructive and frequent feedback from managers helps employees towards a better understanding of their personal strengths and weaknesses (Spiro, 2006).

  1. Respect them and make them feel they are IMPORTANT

Shared vision should be established in current corporate situations while managers need to spend time to share their vision and goals with Gen Y-ers.  Nevertheless, it’s also important to provide them freedom and flexibility to carry out their job (Barclays, 2014).  This means that they need some authority to carry out their job and have a sense of ownership of their task. Respect is a must for them!

  1. CHALLENGE them with different tasks

Most of them are graduates from college or university with a dynamic mix of academics prepared to show their capabilities. They are not interested in “dull” jobs, or jobs that “pay their dues”; they are willing to accept challenges (Hansen, n.d.). Everything start from small. Here will be a few ways to stimulate Gen-Yers in your company. Focus group discussion may help company get the honest feedback from participant (McQuerrey, n.d.). Therefore, there is no harm to open a door for company member (including Gen Y-ers) to take turn alternatively to lead a group discussion. Besides that, incorporate reverse mentoring can be implemented to providing alternative development and engagement opportunities for Gen Y-ers (Solnet, Kralj, & Kandampully, 2012). To avoid some misunderstanding happen, it does not have to be a formal process, make it like a knowledge sharing session between mentor and mentee(Solnet et al., 2012).

  1. FAMILY, FRIENDS, and COMMUNITIES cannot be neglected

Bear in mind, “Gen Y-ers does not live to work, but works to live”.  They love to socialize. According to Cathy (2014), enhancement of flexibility such as telecommuting, defined work schedule and taking time off is crucial to retain Gen Y-ers in your company. Because many of them are willing to sacrifice a higher salary to have work-life balance as mentioned, some flexible benefit package such as flexi-working hours, compressed working hours, work sharing, telework, and sabbaticals should be implemented. It’s all depend on how you do it and fit into your company culture. A small reminder for you, Gen Y-ers needs time to fellowship with their family and friends and to carry out some community responsibilities.

Why are you hesitating? Put in your effort to manage this powerful generation right now.

Research by Ting Zhi Ning, Morphos International Pte Ltd


  • Barclays. (2014). Talking About My Generation: Exploring the Benefits Engagement Challenge, (September). Retrieved from
  • Cathy, L. (2014). Work/Life Balance for the Generations. Retrieved from
  • Cegarra-Leiva, D., Sánchez-Vidal, M. E., & Cegarra-Navarro, J. G. (2012). Understanding the link between work life balance practices and organisational outcomes in SMEs: The mediating effect of a supportive culture. Personnel Review, 41(3), 359–379.
  • Hansen, R. S. (n.d.). How to Recruit, Hire, and Retain Best of Generation Y: 10 Workplace Issues Most Important to Gen Y. Retrieved from
  • McQuerrey, L. (n.d.). Advantages of Employee Focus Group Discussions. Retrieved from
  • Nicole, P. (n.d.). Generation Y: Soon-to-Be Your Next Best Customers. Retrieved from
  • PrincetonOne, & Hobart, B. (2014). Understanding Generation Y: What You Need to Know About the Millennials, 1–11. Retrieved from White Paper2.pdf
  • Solnet, D., Kralj, A., & Kandampully, J. (2012). Generation Y Employees: An Examination of Work Attitude Differences. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 17(3), 36–54. Retrieved from
  • Spiro, C. (2006). Generation Y in the Workplace. Defense AT&l, (December), 16–18. Retrieved from\n – Generation Y: They’ve arrived at work with a new attitude.pdf
  • Wehrwein, E. A., Lujan, H. L., & Dicarlo, S. E. (2014). Gender differences in learning style preferences among undergraduate physiology students, 1–14.

Cost of Misalignment

If only…

If only we knew why our sales revenue is falling…

If only we knew how effective we are at meeting client needs…

If only we knew what motivates our people to go the extra mile…

What if…

What if it is possible to know what brings in the money…

What if it is possible to know if you are effective in serving client needs…

What if it is possible to motivate your people to go the extra mile…

Then you will have BREAKTHROUGH GROWTH!

So the question of old remains… what drives performance in a sustainable manner?

With the advent of technology and the internet, we can now access a huge volume of data and pair it with immense computing strength to generate insights for us. Armed with these insights, not only can we learn about how people tick, we can make right decisions to seize the opportunities ahead of us.

How then?

When it comes to data, it is easy to get trapped in the sheer volume of work, such that one experiences “paralysis by analysis”. Hence it is important to approach data in a systematic method.

Say, if I would like to find out what motivates my sales team, I can pool data from various sources:

  • hiring interviews
  • on-going performance review forms
  • client feedback
  • supervisor observations
  • personal sales achievement
  • and the like…

Once we have these data on hand, one of the first thing to do is to check for:

  • Validity: it measures motivation
  • Reliability: it is a consistent measure and free of errors

So lets examine the list above:

  • hiring interviews
    • Valid? No. That interview was completed years ago, what motivates him then might not motivate him now.
    • Reliable? No. Depends on the judgement of the interviewer and the ability to express by the candidate.
  • on-going performance review forms
    • Valid? No. It measures performance, not motivation.
    • Reliable? Yes, if carried out properly.
  • client feedback
    • Valid? No. Client feedback (“complains”) usually measure performance, not motivation.
    • Reliable? Not really. More feedback from bad service than good service, so it is biased.
  • supervisor observations
    • Valid? Could be, provided the supervisor is trained to look out for the right signs.
    • Reliable? May not be a consistent judgement across different supervisors.
  • personal sales achievement
    • Valid? Could be, supposed that high sales figures comes from motivation within the salesperson rather than riding on a favorable trend.
    • Reliable? May not be if these figures could be doctored.

Many managers rely on flawed assumptions of the above to examine motivation levels of employees, but it could cause more misunderstandings than needed.

Hence managers need to be equipped with the right tools for the job, here’s where Morphos comes in.

First you will need a blueprint…


Motivation = Personal Characteristics + Team Culture + Organisation Resourcing

With that, you can then look into each of the specific areas and assess them:

  • Person
    • Personality: are extroverts or introverts more motivated in selling my products?
    • Attitudes: does the sales person believe in the product in a positive manner?
    • Skills: does the sales person have the competencies to sell the products?
    • Knowledge: does the sales person understand the product and its customer?
  • Team
    • Do the team members hold each other to high standards of excellence?
    • Do the team members support and motivate each other?
    • Do the team members communicate and collaborate with one another?
  • Organisation
    • Does the organisation provide the required resources?
    • Does the organisation provide training and on-going feedback for improvement?
    • Does the organisation track and monitor performance at a individual level?

With the above blueprint, you can then gather data through:

  • Questionnaire surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Feedback from supervisors
  • etc…

And assess your capabilities in doing that.

Finally, with a baseline of data, you can then test for results. Try tweaking a small area, for example, increasing the communication and collaboration between team mates by setting aside budget and time for team activities, as well as regarding it as a priority.

If in the subsequent month, you find that your salespersons are now more motivated to go the extra mile, congratulations for finding a valid and reliable predictor of motivation and answering the age-old question of “what motivates my people”.

WOW! But that sounds like a lot of work!

Yes it is. People are complex and sometimes unpredictable. They may be motivated by pay on one day, and motivated by the team on another day.

Hence, with big data, we pool huge amounts of observations and analyse them for trends, providing a clearer picture of what works for you and what doesn’t.

Speak to us today to find out more.

Your workplace psychologist: Louis Chin
Phone: (+65) 9231 6373

Impulse Buying and Personality

According to a recent research by Thompson and Prendergast (2015), our personality traits affect our purchase behaviour, especially in terms of impulse buying.

Through their research on 842 volunteers, they found that 3 of the 5 traits in the five factor model of personality affect our inclination to purchase items on impulse.

But before we delve into how our personality traits affect our purchase behaviours, let us understand how impulse buying comes about.

Impulse Buying

Firstly, impulse buying comes about when we sacrifice long term goals (such as saving money) for short term reasoning (“look at the money I can save if I buy this now”)

Secondly, impulse buying comes about when we stop thinking about the consequences of the purchase decision (credit purchases are easier than cash purchases… kind of hurts to pay cash, but that action helps us to monitor our spending)

Thirdly, impulse buying comes about when we don’t have enough mental energy to resist (such as when we are down in the dumps, feeling unhappy)

PEAKS and Impulse Buying

So, when the above clarified, how does our PEAKS affect them?

3 Factors: Purpose, Energy and Sustainability

After controlling for effects of gender and age, the researchers found that:

1) the higher your Purpose, the less likely you will buy on impulse

2) the higher your Energy, the more likely you will buy on impulse

3) the higher your Sustainability, the less likely you will buy on impulse

And among the 3 traits, Purpose has the greatest effect.


Hence, if you are troubled with uncontrollable spending and debts that are building up, try leveraging on these actions.

1) Define your savings goal, write it down and remind yourself constantly

2) Bring a picture of your family everywhere you go and remind yourself of your duties towards them

3) Include an accountability partner (can be your spouse or someone you can trust) when you go shopping

4) Plan in advance of what you need to buy and budget for it, bring enough cash to get the things you need, and keep your credit cards out of convenience

5) If you must shop online, ask someone (who does not buy on impulse) for a second opinion before you make the purchase



Thompson, E. R. & Prendergast, G. P. (2015) The influence of trait affect and the five-factor personality model on impulse buying. Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 76, 216 – 221.

Creating Value through Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisal is one of the most difficult HR processes to be implemented in any organisation. On one hand, managers do not want to risk damaging relationships with the individuals they count on to get work done. While on the other, employees do not want to jeopardise their pay or advancement opportunities; some may even feel that managers are unskilled at discussing their performance and coaching them.

If so, why do we even have appraisals in the first place?

The onset of the industrial age in the last century sparked off an era of unprecedented growth and the emergence of large corporations. As companies became more complex and larger in size, the job role of a “manager” was created to ensure that the “whole is greater than the sum of parts”.

As we step into a globalised economy today, the challenge of creating synergies between people has become increasingly demanding as managers face a diverse workforce and a maddening pace of change.

One of the pre-requisites of creating synergy is to create shared purposes and values. With a diverse workforce with many inherent fault-lines (e.g. generational, racial, gender, etc.), our managers will need to demonstrate finesse in managing conflicts and people interactions to get employees fully engaged to wholeheartedly support organisational goals. Lacking which, managers, like everyone else, will find the easiest way out – management by numbers. “Hit your target, and you can stay. Miss your target, and pack your bags.” Regardless of how elaborate the performance appraisal form is, if the culture is focused only on numbers, only business results matter and the rest of the form is simply a waste of time.

Manager’s AttitudesManager’s BehavioursOutcome on Performance Appraisal
Considers conflict to be undesirable and inevitable. Statements made may include: “Conflict will always be around”, “Just let them be, they will sort it out themselves”, “Stop wasting your time on unproductive arguments”, “Only the results matter”Management by numbers only(1) Performance appraisal is considered a waste of time (2) Low priority and engagement with the performance appraisal process (3) Unreliable appraisals
Understands that some conflicts are undesirable, but some can be constructive. Statements made may include: “Can someone let me know what is happening here?”, “What you have mentioned is a personal attack, which is not helpful to our discussion. Can we focus on debating about the task instead?”, “This is interesting, tell me more”, “It is not only about what you achieve, but also about how you achieve it.”Management by walking around(1) Performance appraisal is considered a time of feedback and learning (2) Higher engagement in the performance appraisal process (3) Higher sense of fairness in terms of the performance appraisal outcome (4) More accepting of areas of development

Another aspect involves creating an environment that allows for synergies to happen. This is especially challenging in today’s times with the rapid pace of change and inhibited flow of information in and out of the organisation. This has led to higher employee turnover rates and emergence of a new class of workers, especially prevalent among the millennials. The “temporary full-time worker” and the “permanently part-time worker”.

The new workers
Temporary Full-TimePermanently Part-Time
Attitudes towards workPrefers short-term, high intensity, and challenging work tasksPrefers variety of work tasks
Attitudes towards employersA stepping stone towards greater heightsWork-life balance is important. At times, work is a lower priority than life. So, please do not demand too much.
Attitudes towards rewardsHigh rewards for demanding workPay me what is fair, I know there are sacrifices to be made for being a part-time worker.
Attitudes withinPrefers change and desires to be perceived highly as a capable person who learns fast and delivers results fastPrefers variety and work-life harmony. “What’s the use of earning a lot of money just to pay the doctors?”
Potential Trade-offs(1) Trades long term relationship building for short term outcomes – may not get buy-in from other organisational members. (2) Trades depth for greater exposure – may not become the “capable” person as perceived by self.(1) Trades the opportunity to fully develop one’s potential in a challenging environment for a more comfortably paced lifestyle.

In face of such workforce trends, no wonder there are people calling for the “organisation” to be a coordinator of out-sourced components, while some are calling for managers to completely do away with the whole concept of performance appraisal.

Yet, before any strategic (read, “drastic”) changes are to be made, are there any benefits to an effective performance management system?

Numerous studies have shown that effective performance management systems are able to:

  • žClarify performance expectations and standards
  •  žImprove productivity at all organisational levels
  •  žMotivate employees to do their best
  •  žEnsure employees have the skills and capabilities to contribute maximally
  •  žAlign performance between units and levels with the organisation’s values, goals and strategy
  •  žProvide a basis for making operational HR decisions (e.g. Pay)
  •  žImprove relationships, understanding, and insight between employees and managers

How can managers reap the above benefits?

There are many roads that lead to Rome and we have an AAA performance appreciation model for your consideration:

A: Appreciate the value of contribution one makes to the organisation

Appreciate (measure) the areas of contribution by the employee towards team and/or organisational goals.

  1. Organisation must set clear and measurable objectives, and communicate these objectives to the whole company
  2. Through a series of dialogue, individuals must be able to relate to the set objectives and see how their actions either directly contribute to the goals or facilitates others to contribute to the goals
  3. Comprehensive measures and tools can be put in place to ensure data relating to one’s contribution can be effectively and efficiently collected and measured (e.g. customer service standards can be measured using on-site customer surveys, supervisor ratings, follow up customer feedback, mystery shoppers, amount of time spent by customer in the store, purchase size per customer…)
  4. Communication channels and feedback to be always available, so that actions may be consistently reviewed and adjusted in line with prior goals

A: Appreciate the value of the individual employee through development

Appreciate (raise or grow) the value an individual employee can make towards the organisational goals. Humans are not plug-and-play machines, and have potential far exceeding that of any machine. To fully exercise that potential, learning and development is critical.

  1. Clarify the knowledge, skills and abilities an individual employee needs to perform effectively at their job tasks (which is in line with organisational goals)
  2. Put in place development programmes that are relevant and engaging for the employees and ensure they can be development without any distractions (i.e. given time-off for training, someone else will cover the workload while the employee is on course, managers are supportive of training and will even check on the results of training…)
  3. Ensure measurements prior to the training and after the training to assess the development of the individual.
  4. Create opportunities and space for mistakes, for the employee to try new behaviours and influence others in a similar fashion

A: Appreciate the value contributed through fair rewards

Appreciate (show gratitude) the employee for the value contributed through fair rewards, distributed in a fair manner.

  1. Engage your employees to explain how they measure up against the set objectives
  2. Allow for discussion and employees input prior to any decision making
  3. Listen intently using clarifying questions such as, “when you say this, what do you mean?”
  4. Use statements to clarify your perspectives and position “I am saying that…” and “I am not saying that…”
  5. When both have reached a satisfactory conclusion, a time lag is given for both parties for further reflection and check back if needed
  6. Managers might need to go through a round of calibration (facilitated by HR/ CEO) among themselves to ensure that the employees are measured in a consistent manner across the different managers
  7. Final recommendations are made and given to the highest authority for decision making
  8. Decisions are communicated to the staff and communication (or redress) channels are open to ensure all employees are fairly treated.

An effective performance management system can improve productivity at all organisational levels, motivate employees to do their best and ensure employees have the skills and capabilities to contribute maximally.

Article written by Louis.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2015.

Business Man

Summary: Talent Management Challenges

Talent management is a set of organisational processes integrated to attract, recruit, place, develop, motivate and retain productive employees. Organisations today face challenges in talent management in the following areas:

Increased Globalisation and Mobility

  • Increased availability of work opportunities internationally, which may pull talent away
  • Increased competition with international companies for talent
  • Increased diversity to manage in the workplace

Rise of Technology

  • Rise in social technologies create a complex information web where perceptions of companies can change fairly quickly
  • Increased use of information technologies meant that companies need to move beyond conventional methods to recruit and develop talent

Changes in Workforce Demographics

  • Changing demands of employees who work not only for money
  • Emerging workforce may not have gone through difficult times like their predecessors, resulting in lower resilience levels
  • Emerging workforce tends to be more educated along with the shift of focus on technical skills to service skills

Overcoming the above challenges will require the company to (1) have a realistic understanding of how talent impacts the business, (2) set talent management as a strategic initiative in the company and (3) implement systems and processes in an aligned manner to manage talent.


Morphos International offers a suite of service offerings to help companies employ strategic talent management practices to ensure business growth and sustainability. Services can include talent management audits, consultancy, coaching or learning and development programmes.

Performance Motivation Through PEAKS

A review of the meta-analysis article, Big Five Traits are an Important Source of Performance Motivation (Judge & Ilies, 2002) demonstrates how the personality traits influence the 3 central theories of performance motivation, namely goal-setting, expectancy and self-efficacy.

The quantitative review includes 150 correlations from 65 studies. Traits were organized according to the five-factor model of personality.


As PEAKS coaches, when assessing the construct of motivation, we need to be aware that motivation is demonstrated in 3 faces:

  • goal-setting: if our client has a clear goal, he or she is more motivated than one who has no goals
  • expectancy: if our client can see a link between their effort and their desired results, they are more motivated
  • self-efficacy: if our client is confident of their own abilities, they are more likely to be motivated to perform

From the above, we recognise that Purpose, Energy and Sustainability Scores are important concerns. A higher P, E and S score is likely to influence motivation in a positive direction.

Helpful advice for the various traits:


PEAKS advice

Emphasis on Personality Strengths Drives 21.3% Increase in Performance

Performance review conversations are one of the most difficult conversations to have between a manager and a subordinate, yet with proper handling, such conversations can inspire growth and motivate performance. Based on the research by Corporate Leadership Council (2002), managers who emphasises on performance strengths can lead to a maximum of 36.4% increase in performance, while achieving a maximum of 21.3% performance growth is the conversation emphasises on personality strengths. Both approaches demonstrate a keen understanding and appreciation of the subordinate, leading increased engagement and thus motivation.

Coaches using PEAKS are equipped with the right tools for performance growth:

Likewise as PEAKS coaches, we enter into these crucial conversations with our clients with the purposes of motivating and inspiring performance growth. With PEAKS, we have understanding of our clients’ personality traits which are backed by validated scientific research, which we can use in the coaching session. To further enhance the coaching process, we can gather our client’s performance records to add on to our observations and analysis of the client’s personality.

Similarly, for busy managers who are unable to keep detailed records of a subordinate’s performance strengths, it is also advisable to coach the subordinate with an emphasis on their personality strengths, which is preferably based on PEAKS research.