February 16, 2023
Dr. Rafael Chiuzi is an Organizational Psychologist with one foot in academia and the other in consulting. In his seventeen years of innovative practice in North and South America, as well as the Middle East, he has overcome widespread organizational challenges, and successfully implement lasting and meaningful change; his expertise is often required in complex turnaround and transformation programs for large global companies. Dr. Chiuzi is also a published author and highly sought-after public speaker, notably a 2x TEDx Speaker. He currently holds an appointment as Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, at the University of Toronto Mississauga where he teaches organizational behaviour and correlated courses for Undergraduate and Graduate classes. At IMIx, Dr. Chiuzi is involved with executive courses focusing on developing highly effective leaders across multiple organizations. He also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Campus Affairs Committee and as a member of the UTM Campus Council. His hobbies include Tennis (a lot of it), golf, and family time with his wife and two kids.
Tell us about psychological contracts, leaders and teams. What is this work about, and what’s the greatest example you’ve seen of this work in action?
Psychological contracts are all around us. We have them with our romantic partners, friends, and employers. It's a set of implicit obligations and expectations that are shaped as we enter different relationships in our lives. I've seen many interesting examples of this happening in organizations - from frustrated relations when people have new leaders in their departments all the way through to positive consequences arising from employers who skillfully manage these invisible elements with their employees. After many years of research, I translated the concept into what I now call Exprocity, which is the combination between expectations and reciprocity within teams with their leaders.
In your TEDx talk, you talk about learning how to change, and how planning and changing are different. What’s a key message for people about change, and what should people remember about change?
There is something fascinating about change: people understand that it's needed, however it's also something that brings about uneasiness. I have been personally involved in large-scale transformation projects with Fortune 500 companies all around the world. The human element is always the most challenging of them all, whether it's a digital transformation, a corporate turnaround, or an M&A process. The companies that underplay how important the people side of change is, normally face the consequences in a myriad of symptoms like employee disengagement, labour lawsuits, unwanted turnover, and death by delay. Change is dynamic, and this is why the approach to change initiatives should be as well. Planning change is a good start, but it's insufficient. A good change initiative is like a great chess match: it starts with the strategy, but the real game will be played based on the opponent's response to it, and you will, most likely, have to adapt halfway through.
What’s your best advice for creating healthy teams, groups, and working cultures?
One of the most fundamental things about fostering healthy and effective teams is understanding that every single professional relationship you have is based on how you do things together - in other words, how you coordinate with each other. This coordination then depends on the willingness of both parties to give and receive - what they expect it to be. Bear in mind this is all invisible, and therefore you must build the capability of reading those nuances to develop a strong team.
Tell us a bit about what you're working on now. What’s coming up next for you?
I'm currently involved with several speaking engagements for companies in Canada and the US on topics ranging from Psychological Safety (my last TEDx talk theme) to the Exprocity concept. On the ambitious side, I'm also in the (very) early stages of writing the Exprocity book, but that will take me awhile in order deliver high-quality material that people would like to read.
What’s the most inspirational book, movie, TED talk or piece of writing you’d recommend?
I recommend a book by Bo Seo called "Good arguments: how debate teaches us to listen and be heard". We also have a recent number of great research-based literature on Psychology like "Think Again" by Adam Grant, "The Fearless Organization" by Amy Edmonson, and "Mindset" by Carol Dweck.