Are You Ready to Step up and Pivot?

Our current world environment is unchartered territory. My last experience in 2008 with the unknown was the mortgage meltdown and recession. That led to a 40% business revenue loss for my global organization. Can you say catastrophic?

We lived through it, and you will live through this latest crisis too. I am a New Yorker, and we have seen and lived through a lot in recent years — September 11th being the biggest (until now), but the 2008/09 recession was no picnic. And for those young enough to remember gas crises in both 1973 and again in 1978/79, those sucked as well. I remember sitting in my mother’s car for hours on a line to get gas in her car. Can you say odd/even? You were able to get gas on odd or even days corresponding with your last digit on your license plate. During Super Storm Sandy, my house was one of only a handful in the neighborhood that maintained power. 92% of Long Island lost power after this storm.  For nine days, we were everyone’s place to eat, bathe, and power up cell phones. Then we didn’t have gas for weeks.

Today’s challenge is multifaceted. It may be a hundred-year event. But, let us get beyond the pandemic and civil unrest. Let us focus on the basics, like sharing your home as an office and schoolhouse. Or waiting on physical lines for hours, making sure you have safe distancing outside your local food store. And keeping your mask on and washing hands every chance you get.

The question for every talent executive is to look at what they can do today.

You have options. All can help your organization or your clients.

For internal talent folks, it is time to shift gears and become a learning and development executive. You heard me right.  You are the online tech expert. You have been working this way for years. Change your focus to be your organization’s help desk for navigating the online environment. Work with your IT and operations folks to assist in all aspects of running the business from your laptop.

If you’re fortunate to be gearing up to hire folks in the near term, you need to evaluate the changes in the landscape. Many businesses will no longer be constrained by hiring local talent as the world truly goes online. What does that mean for you and your organization? What about the skills and competencies needed for success? Are those shifting too? Now is the time to pivot and plan for changes for the future.

For those in the pay to play environment, do your advance reconnaissance. Hiring will start again — in some fields with a vengeance. Get it tee’ d up in advance. Are you staying in touch with folks? Now is the time to be schmoozing and checking in on candidates. Show you care and be empathetic.

Pivoting is important. Our world is changing, if not just for the foreseeable future, but forever.

Now we get to act on all those cliché terms, like being agile and flexible.

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We need to pivot in other areas too. The HR team needs to step up on employee relations. Employees are faced with balancing work and family to a greater extent than ever before. Last week, while conducting an online program for a client, I had the opportunity to meet one attendee’s two-year-old, a couple of pets, and I got to overhear a personal life discussion with a spouse. All in less than 8 hrs. online.

For years employees have had to give on the work front. And now employers need to deal with payback. Your employees have complex lives, and they need to be factored into the equation. Work from home policies need to be updated. Programs and services need to be reevaluated too. Is your EAP being utilized?

I am fortunate that my spouse and I can work on literally different floors in our house, and to a large extent, we are on different schedules. We are, for the most part, able to stay out of each other’s hair. That is not the norm. Your employees and business leaders are being stressed and stretched. As HR leaders, this adversity creates opportunity. Do not wait for direction from your leadership.

Now is the time to step up, and pivot.

I am sure you’re all up to the task!

Mark Fogel is currently the President and Managing Partner of Human Capital 3.0 a boutique HR consulting firm with some pretty big clients. His background includes almost a decade and a half as CHRO at Leviton Mfg., The Marcum Group, and The Success Academy Charter School Network.

Mark has been honored by SHRM nationally as their Human Capital Leader of the Year in 2007, and by HR Executive Magazine as an Honor Roll recipient in 2010 and “Best HR Ideas” in 2012. His HR teams have garnished numerous national and local awards for HR innovation, wellness, and employee engagement.

Mark speaks regularly at national conferences and is often quoted in national media and publications. He is also a Senior Adjunct Professor at Adelphi’s Graduate School of Business where he gets to give back to the next generation of HR leaders.

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