We live hectic times, when decisions taken within 30 minutes strongly impact companies. With minimum analysis, with ordinances published in the Official Gazette 4 hours earlier, with people who can help you or not, you must take a decision. You have no other options.
We have run out of time! The economic situation is under extreme pressure. We have not experienced any economic shutdown so far and, as such, we have no history to relate to. We started from a world health crisis and we ended up with an economic crisis prompted by a measure needed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 – self-isolation. The companies resorted to telecommuting – how fortunate the ones who had an infrastructure that allowed them to do so. Without thinking about the procedures and documents needed for this shift, the next day they started work from home in order to protect the health of the employees. Unfortunately, in some towns of Romania, the Territorial Local Inspectorates have identified an endemic issue – the lack of an act signed by both parties attesting to the change of work place– which soon turned into a source of fines and without anticipating that harder times are yet to come. In times of solidarity, we need a partnership between state institutions and the business environment.
But company managers and entrepreneurs move on. They do not lose focus in this new reality and thus become aware of things they have not had the time to ponder upon, previously:
- In times of crisis you easily identify non-performers and you are more willing to take drastic actions. Your tolerance threshold as owner or manager of the company has reached level zero. If before the crisis assessing performance and covering different development stages were the norm, today you have no time for that.
- You start to see people for what they really are. Without too much impression management put into practice, people whose thoughts, opinions and actions are aligned. You may have pleasant surprises but unpleasant ones too.
- You identify the people who really deliver! The responsibility they have undertaken, the determination with which they focus on getting results, the team spirit, all these are aspects that you can no longer ignore. The gossip and the stories of the non-performers may have been more pregnant before, but today they have lost their intensity and impact. Today you see exactly the valuable people! Tomorrow, together with them, you start to redefine a business that, after this crisis, will be transformed.
- You see the redundant work. In this tough shutdown experiment you become aware that many roles in the company were artificially created. They were stripped of content or that they were overlapping with many other jobs within the company. But you had them, you have always had! You have never asked yourself whether that position was successful or not, whether it impacted the products or the services that you delivered. TODAY you have another standpoint.
What will the labor market look like after this crisis?
- Work from home opens up a new perspective – for a number of jobs the total running costs decrease if you move them home. You take risks related to team performance – but some have found that they are more efficient that way. The office real estate market may be fully aware of this and the occupancy rate will drop sharply. Instead, traffic in cities will decrease and the flexible schedule will allow those who are parents to successfully fulfill this role too.
- Collaboration will take other forms. The number of active freelancers will increase, but other types of employment – with a short schedule – will be needed to reduce post-crisis unemployment: mini-jobs and kurzarbeit. Thus, labor legislation needs to be updated in accordance with the new market demands.
- Companies will be willing to work with experts based on other contractual forms, eliminating the employment contract as the only available option. Issues such as confidentiality of information and company loyalty are to be regulated by the collaboration agreements. Again, the legislation needs to be updated in order to increase the trust-based relationship between companies and the expert in the given field.
- New hybrid roles will emerge on the labor market –some with an automation component on certain tasks, others with mini-/part-time jobs, work from home components-we will have positions in organisations that will perhaps combine the final component of 2-3 previously existing jobs. We will collect the work results from part-time/work from home colleagues, we will add our input to this and will subsequently deliver it as process owners.
This scenario brings us closer to the need for performance and results. In small or scattered teams, non-performers can no longer hide.
In order to secure our success tomorrow we have two important components: skills and attitude.
The skills will be interdisciplinary – forget the statement – “I know how to do it, but only this”. We will be forced to make combinations that we have previously declined. The HR specialist will be a successful marketer and the head of department will move from organising the production process to developing new products in a natural way. During this shutdown period it is good to take actions that help us develop collateral skills.
In this context a flexible mindset will help us accept the new reality while cognitive rigidity and the endless arguments for and against our comfort zone of 2019, will be consuming of time and of resources.
These changes and this crisis will be a learning step from the perspective of both our attitude towards ourselves and towards our work. Self-sufficiency, lack of pro-activity and superficiality in what we do will no longer find their place in companies that want to grow.
For part of the Millennial’s generation – it was a shock that they needed. Slowly but surely generation Z -now in schools, growing up during the financial crisis of 2008-2010 and during an ongoing pandemic-will be a real competitor. They will enter companies with a different attitude and a much higher level of skills. They will capitalise on any opportunity encountered with self-discipline and a much more developed entrepreneurial spirit.
In all this wave of actions, today:
- Carefully select the people who leave the organisation during this period. While we will surely overcome this economic shutdown, it is always good to be left with valuable partners.
- While relaunching your business, pay more attention to how you define the profiles of the new jobs and especially how you select the people who will value these jobs. The organisation will no longer operate the same, the market will no longer be the same, but we need to be more active than ever.
Article published in 2nd of April 2020 in “Cariere” Magazine – Leadership journal. You can find here the Romanian version.
Claudia Indreica, PhD – headhunter with 20 years of experience in the field of executive search, psychologist with expertise in profiling candidates, with clients of companies in the following fields: production, IT, services, sales and distribution; active member of Romanian Business Leaders and of DWNT.