April 8, 2021 – The virtualization of work has impacted more than the workday. It has impacted every level of business. Importantly, leaders are thinking differently about attracting, developing, and retaining talent. The new work environment has increased the competition for high performing talent. Hiring managers across the food and agriculture industries, for one, are re-designing strategies and thinking through new employee relocation requirements, including onboarding, motivating, and developing their people. In so doing, HR professionals and business leaders are discovering an expanded talent pool with richer diversity and more commitment to adaptability. That is good news for both companies and the executive recruiters who locate their future talent.
But this expanded talent pool is coming to work with higher expectations of leadership, according to a new report by Sally Day, managing director with global executive search firm Kincannon & Reed. When it comes to relationships, there is no bumping into someone in the lunch line, swinging in to say hello to find out how the weekend was, and no submitting that paperwork in-person. “The challenge for leadership is building relationships and keeping high-potential employees engaged, which is not driven by technology or where work is accomplished, but by building community and connections,” said Ms. Day. “It is important that we recognize there is a loss, a loss of human connection which may be a threat to retention. Finding new ways to stay in sync with one another is good for the soul, and good for business.”
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As for balance, less commute time may mean more personal time … or it could mean an extended workday. “We all have those days in which we need to crank something out and spend a few extra hours at the desk,” said Ms. Day. “I encourage you to occasionally check in with yourself and your employees to see if it has become more the norm than the exception.”
In this new world of work, personal development is critical. “There is a reason the flight attendant asks you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others,” said Ms. Day. “Taking care of your own growth and development can get lost in the ongoing demands of the day. We may need to be more intentional about holding time on our calendars for reading, online classes or networking.”
Employees are watching how leaders prioritize these activities. “Are you treating your development with as much importance as you do a scheduled meeting?” said Ms. Day. “Your high-potential team members are also looking to you for direction on their development, and just because the work environment has changed, their need to learn, grow, and prepare for their next role within the organization has not.”
Related: CEO Leadership During COVID-19
The virtualization of work means we need to be intentional about relationships, taking care of ourselves, and holding our team accountable to balance, while prioritizing your personal development and development of those we lead, said the report. “Starting a new year and continuing your adjustment to virtual work is a great time to set goals,” said Ms. Day. “As an executive coach, my colleagues and I at Kincannon & Reed have worked with several organizational leaders helping them transition to new expectations, new teams, new leadership, and now new ways of working.”
Kincannon & Reed is an executive search firm exclusively focused on food, agribusiness, and the related life sciences. Founded in 1981, the company serves clients throughout the world from locations in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The firm’s mission statement: ‘We recruit leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy.’
Ms. Day is a certified executive coach and search professional, bringing more than 25 years of industry experience as a senior leader working for well-known consumer food companies, including The J.M. Smucker Co., Unilever, Keebler and Nestle. Ms. Day’s tenure in organizational strategy and leadership is a major asset in coaching executives or working with clients to identify and assess future talent. She is a board-certified coach through the Center for Credentialing and Education and an associate certified coach with the International Coaching Federation.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media