Four Trends Impacting Leadership Teams Post-Pandemic

Organizations will face many challenges as they move forward towards a “new normal” in the post-pandemic world.

Robert Hosking, Senior Vice President, Managing Director – Search Practices, LHH Knigtsbridge
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Four Trends Impacting Leadership Teams Post-Pandemic

COVID-19 affected the demand for talent considerably in the early stages of the pandemic, with many companies slowing their recruiting efforts down or even freezing them as they figured out how to deal with drastic changes in their industry. As things currently stand, Canada has started to see some recovery in the job market with 303,000 new jobs being added in March. That’s an increase of 1.6% and is within 1.5% of pre-COVID February 2020 employment levels.

As companies begin searching for candidates to fill open positions again, we’ve seen increased levels of competition for top talent. Experienced and skilled professionals are receiving multiple job offers, highly competitive compensation levels, and even counteroffers from their current employers who are concerned about employee retention. This is just one of the many challenges that organizations face as they move forward towards a “new normal”.

The challenge of onboarding remote employees

One of the challenges for leaders is hiring and onboarding new employees who they’ve never met face-to-face nor worked with before.  To make onboarding work, it should be carried out as a group activity where there are several team members involved. Leaders should aim to embrace the new hire as part of their team and delegate different aspects of the onboarding process to others. This helps provide insight and defines team and company culture while taking some pressure off of the primary leader.

Bear in mind that new hires may feel isolated and disconnected when starting a new job remotely. By regularly connecting new employees with their team and with others in the organization, their chances of success and integration increase greatly. This can be done informally by hosting a virtual lunch to welcome a new employee to the team, or by holding regular virtual coffee breaks throughout the week.

Providing new hires with a coach or mentor is also a great way of setting them up for success. This can be especially effective for leaders who are new to the organization and are eager to hit the ground running.

How can leaders use innovation and collaboration to improve performance?

The need to drive change has become more important than ever, and this is especially evident with businesses whose operations have been most affected by COVID-19 as they’re working hard to transform their organization and stay ahead of their competitors. This is likely why we’ve seen a surge in popularity for “on-demand” services like coaching for all levels of leaders within an organization, as well as leadership training and development programs.

Greater collaboration and communication throughout organizations can also maintain a healthy and productive work culture despite employees working remotely. We encourage organizations to have mandatory town halls, monthly leadership-driven meetings, open forum discussions, presidents with drop-in times, and broader use of company communication platforms. These approaches help leaders keep their finger on their company’s pulse and help employees communicate their needs to leadership more effectively.

Strategies for managing for results rather than attendance

The transformational leaders that have come out ahead during the pandemic are the ones that are able to work through ambiguity, communicate virtually and trust their team. Leaders need to develop the ability to trust that their team is performing their tasks diligently, meeting deadlines, and striving to achieve results. This is likely very different from what most leaders were used to in pre-pandemic work environments where they could physically see their team throughout the day and monitor their activity at all times.

In order for leaders to properly manage for results rather than attendance or work schedules, they need to clearly communicate expectations and desired outcomes to their team. By also laying out the potential roadblocks or obstacles that could come into play and accounting for the time it will take to move through those, leaders start moving towards a much more trusting and remote-friendly style of leadership.

What does the future look like for businesses?

There is still a high degree of uncertainty around how the post-COVID world of work will look. Hybrid work models seem to be emerging as a popular option for many companies, and this would see employees working at an office 2 or 3 days a week and working remotely the rest of the time. The way offices are used will probably change as organizations settle back into a regular routine, with collaborative workspaces taking priority over designated office space for individuals. The use of advanced technology is set to become the norm throughout organizations as on-site employees and remote workers collaborate and communicate at a growing rate.

The social landscape across teams and businesses may also change in the future. In a recent LHH poll, we found that since the start of the pandemic, 37% of respondents indicated that they miss in-person networking events and opportunities. This tells us that both employers and employees appear to have discovered a renewed value in getting to know the people that they work with and other professionals in their field.

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