The Digitization Imperative

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Seven Ways Leaders Can Prepare for Post-Pandemic Times

by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries

Avoid knee-jerk reactions when creating a plan for the future.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” This opening line from Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities captures the contradictory times we live in. It also describes how organisations may react to the coronavirus pandemic in very different ways.

Take fictional Company A. When the pandemic occurred, fear permeated its top echelons. For years, its leadership had bought back shares to improve its financial metrics and warrant fat bonuses for executives. This reduced its financial leeway, prompting the CEO and the CFO to go on a major cost-cutting spree, including the cancellation of all training and development activities. They also used the turbulent economic environment as an excuse to lay off many employees they didn’t like, without any explanation. In light of these actions, a doomsday atmosphere prevailed.

At fictional Company B, senior executives reacted very differently. Granted, with the lessons learned from the last recession, they had created strong financial reserves, which enabled them not to lay off anyone. Instead, they eliminated overtime hours, put in place sabbatical programmes and made use of government support schemes. They instituted a salary freeze and downsized their own remuneration. Knowing that recessions offered exceptional opportunities to pick up high-quality talent, they kept their eyes open. They would not fall into the trap of having a shortage of people with key skills. Although it would have been easy to cut training, top management decided to keep key elements of it to better prepare its workforce for the future. Continue reading

6 tips for remote hiring success

By Sarah K. White

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only shaken up business as usual, sending large portions of the workforce to work from home, it’s also pushed companies to hire from home. Recruiters and hiring managers are now faced with the task of vetting candidates remotely, a challenging prospect for many organizations and roles, especially for technical interviews or for establishing a culture fit. While there are obstacles to this “new normal,” some companies have found positives in the new hiring process.

If your company is one of the many that will be hiring virtually, even temporarily, moving forward, here are six tips to help smooth the transition and ensure a strong candidate fit.

Bring structure to the process

Jocelyn Lai, director of talent acquisition at Duolingo, says her team had just 24 hours to completely revolutionize the company’s hiring process after the COVID-19 lock downs went into effect. Part of that included building out a structured process for recruiters and candidates to follow while the company continued to ramp up hiring.

Lai recommends establishing a quick guide for instructing candidates on how to run through their video and sound equipment ahead of time in case there are any compatibility issues and to give them a general sense of what to expect. The same goes for your recruiters, she says. Make sure everyone is using the same video conferencing software, that they have all the resources for quality video calls and that they are trained on any software or services you may use to conduct any technical interviews.

Bringing structure to the process not only helps your recruiters be effective, but it also alleviates potential added stress on candidates. Candidates may feel more anxious or stressed about a virtual interview, especially if they are new to the process. By “over communicating” with candidates, you can help them feel at ease, which will help avoid any potential performance issues during the interview, Lai says.

Re imagine the technical interview

Technical interviews can pose a unique challenge during the virtual hiring process. Engineers who are used to using physical white boards for technical interviews may have to embrace Google Docs or a third-party service such as HackerRank or CodeSignal. It’s important to take into account any potential limitations of your setup — and to consider giving candidates a chance for a do-over if they’re new to virtual technical interviews. Let candidates know in advance how you plan to conduct technical interviews — again, communication is key in helping ease anxiety and to get the best out of your candidate.

Embrace a new pace

While the current situation isn’t ideal, plenty of companies are finding positives in this new employment landscape. Orkideh Shahidi, vice president of people operations at SADA Systems, says her team had already conducted some virtual interviews prior to the lock downs, but the company’s recruitment process has now moved entirely online due to Covid-19.

One benefit Shahidi has noticed is that, with recruiters and candidates working from home, recruiters are no longer vying for meeting rooms or conference lines, and candidates also have more availability. More over, SADA hiring managers no longer have to wait weeks to schedule time to fly a candidate in for an in-person interview if they’re in another state or country.

“Candidates don’t need to rush to their cars to take a call and we don’t have to wait for them to take a day off to fly over here. It makes the interview process and the hiring process a lot faster,” says Shahidi.

Adjust your outlook on perks

Perks and benefits are big draws for tech candidates. Tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Google are well known for in-office perks such as unique working spaces, healthy snacks, free meals, on-site gyms and roof decks.

With new hires likely working from home for the foreseeable future, however, these perks are off the table, Lai says. If your organization leans on these perks to sway talent, you’ll need to find other ways to get candidates engaged in your corporate culture.

“Once you remove the perks, there is nothing to stand on, so it’s all about authenticity now. Now there’s another bar that companies have to hit in terms of candidate experience and it’s that authenticity piece because you have nothing to hide behind,” says Lai.

Source: CIO Magazine

10 reasons why digital transformations fail

By Clint Boulton

Digital transformations remain fashionable. CIOs are stitching together cloud, APIs and microservices into platforms to augment business processes. Agile architectures, they believe, help streamline operations and better serve customers.

Forty-seven percent of 510 business and tech leaders claim that their organization is advancing digital transformation plans across the enterprise, according to research conducted by consultancy TEKsystems in late 2019.

The harsh reality is that such transformations often feel like mirages: cool and inviting from afar, but less real as they progress along the path. Often the biggest misstep is the inability to account for the cultural change required to pull off enterprise-wide transformation.

Getting blindsided by the COVID-19 isn’t doing organizations any favors on their transformation journeys, but even those who keep most of their budgets intact, there are very specific impediments to driving wholesale enterprise change. Here are 10 stumbling blocks derailing digital transformations. Continue reading

The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership

by Gianpiero Petriglieri

When I ask groups of managers what makes a good leader, I seldom have to wait long before someone says, “Vision!” and everyone nods. I have asked that question countless times for the past 20 years, to cohorts of senior executives, middle managers, and young students from many different sectors, industries, backgrounds, and countries. The answer is always the same: A vision inspires and moves people. Expansion, domination, freedom, equality, salvation — whatever it is, if a leader’s vision gives us direction and hope, we will follow. If you don’t have one, you can’t call yourself a leader.

This enchantment with vision, I believe, is the manifestation of a bigger problem: a disembodied conception of leadership. Visions hold our imagination captive, but they rarely have a positive effect on our bodies. In fact, we often end up sacrificing our bodies in the pursuit of different kinds of visions, and celebrating that fact — whether it is by dying for our countries or working ourselves to exhaustion for our companies. Visions work the same way whether mystics or leaders have them: They promise a future and demand our life. In some cases, that sacrifice is worth it. In others, it is not. Just as it can ignite us, a vision can burn us out. Continue reading