Get to Know the People Science Team: Rick Pollak
Title: Principal People Science Consultant
Residence: Eastchester, New York
Home town: Granada Hills, California
Rick Pollak has a PhD and decades of experience in business psychology and organizational development. But his top tip comes from his student days when he paid the bills waiting tables.
“I noticed that my enjoyment doing the job—the same job, with the same responsibilities, customers, and challenges—was entirely different depending on the people I worked with,” Rick says. “Working with a great crew meant I loved the job. A different crew meant that night would be a slog.”
Top tip: “Try your very best to find and work with great people. Sometimes jobs promise prestige, money, or a promotion, but if the people aren’t great, the experience won’t be great. We’ve got to trust our gut about this, and I try to share that with my colleagues and the people I mentor. And it’s one big reason why working at Glint has been so personally and professionally rewarding.”
Learn more about Rick’s work and life.
What’s your specialty on the People Science Team? My specialty—like some of my People Science colleagues—is that I’ve been a customer for these kinds of products and services, having led corporate talent, learning, and organizational development functions. When I use my experience to apply my customer lens, I’m reminded to focus on the pieces of information and connections that matter most to our customers’ efforts to drive success and happiness.
Another interest of mine, that I’ve enjoyed applying at Glint, has been around behavioral nudges. I’ve noticed in my work on the subject that some people think of nudges as a way to trick or convince people to do things they don’t want to do. That’s manipulation, not behavioral nudges, and it never works well for a host of reasons.
Instead, nudges help people do what they wanted and intended to do already. Their power is reminding people of their own good intentions and encouraging them via behavioral science to follow through by taking small, positive steps in the right direction. That is what is both fascinating as a behavioral scientist enabling nudges for the workplace, and also rewarding as an optimistic human being.
What got you interested in People Science? Like a lot of my colleagues who ended up studying industrial and organizational psychology, I initially thought I wanted to be a clinical psychologist. But after closer examination of the field and myself, I realized I wanted to practice a different kind of psychology.
Business psychology would allow me to have a positive impact on a much broader and much larger group of people. I still find it immensely interesting and personally rewarding.
How did you get to Glint? At first, I became aware of Glint as a professional competitor in the employee survey space; and I respected the company as a formidable and capable competitor. Something special was happening there. Also, many of my favorite and talented colleagues were being recruited to work at Glint, including my boss at the time. A couple of years later, she and another former colleague reached out to encourage me to apply. Actually, they said something like, “You really need to come join Glint.” They were right.
What’s your motivation for doing what you do? It starts with helping people. I recognize that can sound trite, but that is really what animates me. The rest of what I try to do as a People Scientist is likely due to my obsession with the question “why?”
I am somewhat obnoxiously curious (just ask my friends and family), and the natural laboratory of the workplace for a People Scientist just checks all of my boxes. I find that the ability to extract and distill insights from employees’ own responses to simple questions—and provide those insights to decision-makers and to the employees themselves to improve the work experiences—feels like a superpower. Perhaps it’s one of the lesser superpowers, but I find it immensely gratifying.
Any career goals you’re working toward? I want to continue doing work I love, learning interesting things every day from people I respect, and helping my colleagues and customers have a better life by improving work experiences.
What was your first job? My first real paycheck came from working at a gas station in Southern California. That was back in the day when gas station attendants filled the gas tank, cleaned the car’s windows, and checked the tires and the oil. The job was dirty and miserable, but I learned a lot from it—like how some jobs are dirty and miserable but can still be valuable.
How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? It used to be quite a few, but then I decided to give up all caffeine drinks a few years ago. If I weren’t so sleepy right now, I’d describe the marginally tolerable coffee substitute that I drink all day long in its place.
What do you like to do outside of work? Sorry, could you explain what this “outside of work” thing is? Seriously, I’m trying to get back to my fun activities, like road biking, landscaping, hiking local trails with my reluctant dog (and even more reluctant family), skiing, playing tennis, baking, and reading.