While the Covid-19 pandemic hits and reshapes companies, industries, national economies, and our society in previously unthinkable ways, business leaders need to think beyond survival to the opportunities this crisis might create, not only for their own organizations but the greater good. There is a chance to hire talented people at a time when they might have trouble finding or keeping jobs elsewhere.
Now, many companies are laying off workers and downsizing. Some sectors are collapsing. It seems an unprecedented number of people, around the world, from new graduates to seasoned veterans, will be looking for employment. At the same time, a major force that had been fuelling the intensity of the war for talent — globalization — might recede. As companies revisit their international expansion strategies and cross-border business practices, workers are recalculating their personal purpose and individual and family priorities, with serious implications for their geographic and work preferences and travel habits.
The pool of available talent is suddenly both changing and expanding, and visionary leaders can make the most of it, preparing the ground for post-crisis recovery and growth.
Seizing the Opportunity
Outline the qualities and competencies you’re looking for in a new hire before you start; at this time of flux, I would give heavy weight to soft skills, including inspirational leadership, change management, collaboration, and influencing, as well as the potential to keep growing, learning, and adapting to new circumstances. Such potential will stem from their curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination, on top of the right motivation.
Ask behaviour-based questions, such as “Could you tell me about a time you led your team through a big transition?” Record your thoughts and observations about how the person measures up to your initial metrics as soon as you are done. Bring in more than one but not too many interviewers and compare notes with them. And carefully check references. Decades of social research have concluded that third-party opinions are much more accurate than individuals’ own views of themselves, particularly for soft skills.
This pandemic has created unprecedented trauma around the world. The economic fallout will be equally painful for many. It can be tempting to focus on the short term of crisis management. But when we emerge from this unfolding tragedy, it will be the long-term thinkers who not only survive but thrive. If your organization is well-capitalized and visionary enough to hire for lasting greatness, now is the time.
- Extracts from the Harvard Business Review.