Hiring Right In A (Post) Covid-19 World
It may seem too early to even think about hiring new talent as we all figure out how to navigate the new reality caused by the pandemic. While many organizations are going out-of-business or laying employees off to survive, there will come a time in the future, and possibly the near future, when hiring needs will arise.
The current reality is rapid cycling change. The new normal is yet to be determined. What will be needed for future success? FIT: Finding Ideal Talent . This means talent that new hires will not only have the right experience and skills, but they’ll have so much more! How agile are they? How change ready are they? How well do they fit the culture and values? How will they add positive energy to the team in the new reality? What is their capacity for connection and collaboration, and can they work well in a virtual dynamic? All of these are critical to finding the “right fit” when you hire.
After 25 years of extensive hiring experience, I can share some insights into what makes for the “right fit.” First, what does the right fit look like? They engage in the new position rapidly, have minimal ramp up to being productive, and become key players in their part of the organization.
Sounds easy, right?
Not really. There are key elements to look for in finding the right FIT, especially in a post COVID-19 world’s hiring process. These are:
Emotional load and EQ
FIT the team
FIT the customers/clients
FIT to a virtual workplace
Alignment to the new reality
FIT to your culture
FIT to your organization’s applied values
Align your hiring practices to your organization’s future in the new reality, not to the old normal. This is one of those moments in history when organizations can play an active role in shaping the future or let others do the shaping while waiting around to see what it will look like. No, I don’t have a crystal ball that allows me to see the future, but like any leader, I have the opportunity to shape the future for myself and my organization.
The idea is not to set a 10-year strategy yet. It is to define a plan to focus on specific tactics that will move the organization forward in the most agile and opportunity-engaging manner possible. That includes hiring –especially hiring! You do not have to know what next year looks like to know what great talent looks like, and people are the most important asset for any organization to innovate and shape their future.
FIT to Culture
This is so important! I see many organizations hire for experience or a set of skills. What about culture? There is so much confusion about culture. I’ve heard it said that organizations get the culture they tolerate. This is very true. So you can let culture evolve into something you did not intend, or you can intelligently design and build the culture you want. There is no better way to move your desired culture forward faster than to hire people who demonstrate that desired culture. I have heard it said hire for character. That is wisdom. Adding to that, hire the character you want to drive the culture you desire.
FIT to Applied Values
Most organizations have a set of defined values. But are they truly applied values or are they aspirational values? There is an important distinction. Applied values are what is currently in practice. Aspirational values are great but may never be realized.
Be realistic in this important area. If you promote aspirational values to a candidate but they do not experience that after being hired, it can lead to disengagement and loss of talent. If you want to change this aspect of your organization, then do it! There is no better time than now to hit the reset button and engage a culture change initiative as seen in the highly successful “Translate, Motivate, Activate – a Leader’s Guide to Mobilizing Change” by Larry Solomon.
We use many different assessments in our hiring process. One of the newest and most impactful, especially now, is the SEI-LTC from Six Seconds. Embedded in this assessment report are three critical areas:
- An AGILE measure
- A measure of Change Readiness
- Measures of EQ competencies
Often people think of emotional intelligence as just soft skills that have little value in the business world, but I ask you to reflect on the shared experience we’re all going through right now (or just check out the many publications from the Harvard Business Review). How well is IQ and the logical mind dealing with the emotional load of the current VUCA dynamic? From what I’m seeing with my many business-owner connections, these are far less impactful right now than EQ skills. There is a much bigger emotional component in decision making than most people know.
Change readiness is now measurable. It is one of the critical factors we look at in the assessment packages we customize for our clients hiring needs. The ability to embrace change, learn more rapidly, have more energy going to the effort, have greater levels of focus, and have enhanced productivity come from EQ skills applied -these and more!
Are you EQuipping yourself and your people for rapid cycling change?
Emotional Load and EQ
In a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous environment (VUCA), the challenge is to turn VUCA into value.
When you’re considering hiring the right-fit candidate, knowing how they are currently showing up in key areas of performance is the difference between success and failure in the hire. Impossible, you say? It’s not only possible, but it’s probable when you use the right processes and tools to predict success. While no one has a perfect hiring track record, you can change the success rate significantly by using tools that work together to gain key insights. More on assessments in a future article.
For now, consider the impact of the past several months during the COVID-19 pandemic. The emotional impact is huge! It’s very much like a grieving process. Technology is driving the emotional load to higher levels. People are consistently handling triggered waves of emotion. Health, finances, employment, uncertainty, family, isolation, loss of freedom are all, in many ways, how we’re sharing a type of grieving process. Tragically, some of it is traditional grieving for the loss of loved ones. For others, it’s the loss of a business or a job. These are serious concerns that greatly impact people.
I am not saying to avoid hiring candidates who have increased emotional load. If that were the case, there would be no candidates to hire, because we’re all in the same boat! What I am saying is to get good data and understand how the candidate is navigating and managing the emotional load. Energy is spent internally first to resolve unresolved issues, then whatever is left can go toward the work effort. Those who are more self-aware, self-managing, and self-directing are more productive and effective. These are the three major areas of emotional intelligence.
FIT to the team
While everyone knows this is important, very few apply the science to make it a reality. The reality is that you can understand what the right fit for a given team is by using good data to understand the team’s strengths, gaps, and climate.
Did you know that most new hires who leave employment in the first year identify either culture fit or team fit as one of the primary reasons? The right processes and tools can reduce turnover which can save multiple times that position’s annual compensation.
FIT to Customers/Clients
Customer-centric! This makes sense in a sales or customer service role. But what about other positions that are not as customer/client facing? Do you measure customer focus in candidates? You can. I once heard someone say that everyone in an organization is a salesperson. When I use that phrase, I almost inevitably get a negative response from those who are uncomfortable with it. The truth is that’s a true statement. Even if an employee never sees or speaks to a customer or client, their work will impact that relationship.
How about internal customers/clients? The people we work with. They are just as much a customer/client as those who pay invoices. Selecting candidates that have a customer/client focus is a way to accelerate success throughout the organization. They tend to be more thoughtful of end-user experiences, better problem solvers and take personal ownership of their responsibilities.
FIT to the Virtual Workplace
For some companies this is nothing new, but for most, a remote working environment is new and different. Many organizations are starting to consider what their “new normal” will look like with the option of continuing remote working. There are some significant cost savings to a virtual workforce, and even more importantly, higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. More on the virtual workplace in a future article.
What does it take for someone to be successful in a virtual working environment? That is a question for each organization to ponder for their needs, and one where much insight can be gained through lessons learned during this “shelter-in-place” environment. There are many characteristics that point to a successful remote working employee. Again, good data gathered in the hiring process can be a great help in differentiating candidates and selecting the right FIT.
You will notice that I have capitalized FIT throughout most of this article. There is a good reason for that. Finding Ideal Talent is not easy, but it can be done. The reward for doing so will provide ROI for years to come!
For more about Finding Ideal Talent, visit us at https://www.gscfit.com/services/
Steve Goodner is the President of GSCFIT, and a Preferred Partner with Six Seconds, the world’s largest emotional intelligence community. GSCFIT is dedicated to equipping and empowering individuals, leaders and organizations through Focus, Insight and Transformation (FIT).