How Companies Will Stand Out Post-Pandemic

by Ulrik Juul Christensen

(Hint: It’s Not AI.)

In a post-pandemic world, companies undoubtedly will turn increasingly to advanced technologies — artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and automation — to accelerate growth and improve profit margins. Such an arms race, however, will not be sustainable as even the latest technology will eventually become commoditized. Instead, the true point of differentiation will be well-educated human capital deployed dynamically to tackle challenges so complex that AI and automation will come up short.

To be clear, technology will be the foundation of digital transformation. As two experts from the World Bank wrote in Harvard Business Review, “Increases in efficiency brought about by digital technology can help businesses expand. Digital platforms can create entirely new occupations and jobs.”  Yet that opportunity will not be realized unless people are well-educated, not only when it comes to job-specific technical competencies, but also in 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, as well as character traits of leadership, ethics, citizenship, and grit.

Based on conversations I’m having with business leaders across multiple industries, and even what I see in our own company, I believe the key to future success — through this decade and beyond — lies in learning engineering. Essentially, that means offering the right learning opportunities to build relevant skills and ensuring that people take advantage of learning and development (L&D). As a chief learning officer (CLO) told me recently, “The pandemic has exposed the fact that L&D is not a ‘nice to have’; it is a ‘need to have.’”

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How to work with every damn Myers-Briggs personality type

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We got experts to weigh-in on how classic personality traits translate to remote work.

The shift to remote work has given many of us a new perspective on how we do our jobs. Without the context of a shared workspace or the rhythm of a typical office day, our own personalities are having far more of a say in our performance.

It follows, then, that the best way to maximize our output in a WFH environment is to better know our personalities – and those of our dispersed colleagues.

An efficient (and intriguing) way to manage this personality wrangling is via the tried-and-tested Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Generally regarded as one of the most accurate personality tests out there, the MBTI is widely applied within the business world, with 89 of the Fortune 100 companies utilising it.

“The MBTI is deceptively simple, but it’s also an extremely useful way to see how team members are inherently different, and how you can work together more successfully,” says occupational psychologist John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at the Myers-Briggs Company. “It’s a means to boost productivity in people, increasing their engagement and making them generally happier in their work.”

In other words, the MBTI might just be the key to turning your remote team into a smooth autonomous unit.

The 16 personality types and their traits

Based on Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types, the MBTI is a self-reported personality survey that has been around in various shapes and forms since the 1940s. Respondents answer a series of simple questions about their feelings and preferences, eventually aligning with one of 16 personality types.

Each of these types is identified by four letters, starting with an E or an I (for extrovert/introvert) followed by S or N (sensibility/intuition), T or F (thinking/feeling), and finally a J or a P (judgment/perception). Each type also has a descriptor, e.g., “the analyst,” to further characterize the personality type in action.

Once you know your team members’ types, the thinking goes, you can better assign them to projects which match their preferences, proficiency, and proclivities. You can also communicate more effectively if you have a better idea of how people process information.

To get started, take the official Myers-Briggs test here (or try a similar free questionnaire, recommended by psychologists here), then check out our expert guidance below on how to work with each personality type. Continue reading

Hiring in 2020

Recruiting and interviewing during the COVID-19 crisis with the stay-at-home order, remote interviewing has become a requirement, not a luxury. Tech tools for hiring such as Zoom, Skype and Go-to-Meeting, have been a boon to remote job interviews. Seeing the candidate is so much better than just interviewing them by phone. However, remote interviews can be more troublesome than in-person interviews.

We had the opportunity to tap into our network of professionals on both the corporate side (looking to hire the talent) and candidate side (the talent for new opportunities) to get their input and thoughts around new issues and processes that they have encountered – and how to improve the remote interview experience.

From the corporate side:

  • You want to show all potential candidates that just because the interview is remote, it is no less professional than if you were to meet face-to-face.
  • Introduce your company culture; your candidates might not have the opportunity to see your office and meet your team. Or maybe you don’t even have an office. So make sure candidates don’t miss out on finding out all about you.
  • Communicate the interview details when remote interviewing.  It is better to over-communicate: this may be your hundredth remote interview, but for the candidate it might be their first and the tools you’re using might be new to them.

From the candidate side:

  • Get to know your video platform beforehand. These days, a lot of different video platforms require a myriad of account sign-ups, app downloads, or permissions on your device.
  • Don’t just dress for where the camera can see. Professional dress codes are expected in video interviews. The best way to guarantee your confidence and seriousness in the conversation is to dress the part.
  • Hiring managers are drawn to candidates that show up curious, so come prepared with a list of questions that will prove you’ve done your research.
  • Control your environment. In addition to properly preparing for your job interview, you have the added challenge of preparing the right space within your home for this important meeting. Find a spot in your home that’s quiet, clutter-free, and well-lit. Download any necessary software or updates ahead of time and test the equipment with a friend to ensure your lighting, audio volume, and the positioning of your camera is just right.

 

 

Hiring in 2020 from your perspective

With the pandemic, the traditional face-to-face interview was suddenly replaced with video conferencing using tools such as Zoom, Skype and Go-to Meeting– leaving many in the interview space scrambling to figure out how to best assess candidates in an entirely new way.

Since everyone is adapting and learning in real time, we thought it would be helpful to crowd source ideas for improvement from our network of professionals. We can all benefit from understanding the challenges you have faced and the actions you have taken to foster improvement around interviewing.

Below are questions to consider. Please feel free to choose from them and/or contribute your own thoughts and insights.

For Hiring Managers

  • What steps have you taken to transition interviewing to a virtual environment?
  • What have you done to set the stage for professionalism in a virtual interview?
  • How have you conveyed the company culture when candidates don’t have the opportunity to see your office and meet your team?
  • How have you made it comfortable for candidates to be their best selves virtually, especially if they are unfamiliar with your conferencing tool of choice?
  • What have you learned by doing virtual interviews? What tips can you offer?

For Candidates

  • What steps have you taken to understand the company that you didn’t need to do for a face-to-face interview?
  • What tips on dressing can you offer to ensure you and your environment reflects a professional image?
  • What have you learned by doing virtual interviews? What tips can you offer?

Many thanks in advance for your contributions and please let us know if you would or would not like us to use your name in our published report.

Thank you in advance for your time and contribution to our blog. We will send you a link when we have compiled the results.

Please email us:

Larry Janis janis@issg.net

Jeff Bruckner bruckner@issg.net

Integrated Search Solutions Group

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Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Rethink Talent and Leadership

Startups and scaleups worldwide are facing a make-or-break moment with coronavirus, a health crisis with vast and unprecedented economic consequences. Each entrepreneur is in a unique situation, whether they’re well-funded, planning their next funding round or struggling through the uncertainty.

As a result, founders are turning to their VCs and mentors for support and conversations are, unsurprisingly, centred around cash. In the UK, while £81m has gone to startups that haven’t received investment previously, there’s been a 31 percent decrease in deal numbers compared to the same period last year—so it’s a pressing issue.

But cash alone only presents half the story. As startups seek advice on how to weather the storm and find positives in the situation, the conversation broadens. To survive this period of instability, growing businesses should look toward the key cornerstones of success: talent and leadership. After all, the best founders never waste a crisis and now is a good time for them to refocus.

The vision could be great, the founders innovative and cash readily available, but without strong leadership and world-class talent, businesses can’t continue to thrive in this climate. How to look after and manage teams during this time, as well as understanding what staff cuts to make and how, are important considerations that startups are looking to VCs for support and advice on.

A conservative approach. 

Any business plans that organisations had in place ahead of the pandemic are now likely to be irrelevant. Businesses need to start from scratch with a clear view of their burn rate and shouldn’t be afraid to rip up the rule book and abandon existing plans. Startups already doing this have looked to renegotiate their office rents, contracts with providers and suspended online advertising, for example.

Reducing such costs is sensible in a challenging fundraising environment. Deals have slowed down and the Pitchbook European VC Valuation Report points toward a decrease in early seed rounds. New investments certainly have stopped and great companies always get funding, but many investors are focusing on how to support their existing portfolio. The crisis isn’t over yet and, with further outbreaks still possible, now is the time to be conservative. Continue reading