Corporate Culture & Talent: Navigating the New Norms

June 11, 2024 – The keys to unlocking a successful corporate culture are predicated upon how leaders in organizations perceive culture as a top priority. Most senior leaders agree that a healthy company culture is a basic component of any successful organization. It lays the groundwork for strong employee engagement, retention, and performance. In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, leaders are also increasingly aware of the role culture plays in driving value at an organization.

The last three to five years has heralded a significant shift in how we perceive, embody, and execute the fundamental tenets of corporate culture. Concepts like “cultural fit” have aged out of relevance as companies increasingly understand that psychological safety and building an environment where employees feel empowered to share a diversity of viewpoints helps push organizations into evolving and innovating operations. The adage ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ has never rung truer – culture is no longer a mere
by-product of employee interactions, but the central axis around which talent and innovation orbit.

Amid digital disruptions like generative AI, a challenging macroeconomic environment, and increased pressure for value creation, in 2024 organizations across the globe have increasingly realized that a strong corporate culture is not an expendable luxury but a foundational asset for sustainable growth. Furthermore, by championing a strong and inclusive culture, not only can organizations attract better talent, they can also retain and optimize their people strategy for the future.

“We recognized very early on that for long-term success, it was essential to work with people who aligned with our values and fit well into our cultural framework,” said Sabine Steiner, COO of Talentor. “A positive culture and thoughtful approach can lead to greater employee satisfaction, increased trust and collaboration, and ultimately better financial performance. By investing in initiatives such as leadership development, cross-cultural exchange, and learning, it creates a work environment that supports better outcomes for everyone.”

Strategies to Suit an Evolving Workplace

Culture isn’t a singular box an organization can check when trying to tackle the initiative. Just as companies must change with the circumstances and technology and trends of their environment, culture must be worked at to support ever growing talent at an organization. “We recognize that workplace culture isn’t static,” said Leslie Loveless, CEO and managing partner of Slone Partners. “Our hiring strategies are built around attracting people who will be culturally additive and strengthen our organization. I don’t subscribe to the theory that recruits need to be a good culture fit because that unnecessarily limits the pool of people we would consider for the role. Instead, we seek to recruit people for our team who will add value through their unique backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences and their capacity to contribute to our culture and make it even better.”

“This philosophy also informs the recruiting strategies we deploy for our client partners,” Ms. Loveless said. “Before we begin a search, we do a deep dive into their organization to gain a thorough understanding of their operations, infrastructure, and culture. With that knowledge we are well positioned to identify and recruit the people we feel would be culturally additive and whose skills, energies, and passions would make the company stronger and more vibrant.”

“Understanding a client’s existing company culture has always been a key component of how we set our strategy,” said Kris McFeely, managing director, executive search of Campbell & Company. “We want to understand what it’s like to work there, how decisions are made, how teams work together, and how success is defined across the organization from as many perspectives as possible. We dive deep with leadership, of course, but also with staff from a variety of levels within the organization so that our understanding of that company’s culture is holistic. However, we don’t talk about candidates as potential ‘fits’ for a culture – that implies we’re only looking for more of the same. We strive to place candidates who will be ‘culture adds’ – bringing something new and energizing to the company culture as it currently exists.”

Cultivating the Ideal Corporate DNA

In the quest for sustainable competitive advantage, recruiting has transcended the traditional checklist of qualifications and experiences to a more holistic assessment of cultural alignment. Organizations are no longer content with merely hiring; they are on a quest to curate an ensemble of diverse talents, bonded by shared
beliefs and various skills pushing towards a collective forward-facing vision. As a result, aligning on core tenants around which to build a cultural NorthStar can be an effective way to communicate and foster an ideal company ethos rather than focusing purely on whether individuals fit the existing model.

“At Modern Executive Solutions, we believe culture refers to the mindsets and behaviors of our employees,” said Mark Oppenheimer, CEO. “Further, we believe it is critical that every employee has the
tools, skills, resources, and support needed to be successful. We recognize that everyone’s needs are different, and we work hard to make sure that every single employee can bring their best selves to work every day. We approach cultural fit a little differently, though. Instead of asking the typical, ‘does this person fit with our culture?’ question (one that is fraught with inaccuracies and biases) we ask, ‘how can this employee enhance our culture and/or ensure that we are thinking about things differently tomorrow than we are today?’”

“Culture refers to the mindsets and behaviors of our employees,” Mr. Oppenheimer said. “We also believe that we must maintain an equal focus on both performance (serving our clients) and health (how we run our business). By maintaining an equal focus on both, we see numerous positive benefits to the business outcomes that we strive for.”

“We understand that there is a tendency for cultural fit to perpetuate or introduce biases in the workplace,” explained Dara Klarfeld, CEO of DRG Talent. “Seeking a cultural fit often causes hiring teams to connect most with candidates similar to them, decreasing opportunities to identify the leader best fit to meet the organization’s missions and goals. We lead all of our clients through interviewing with reduced bias training to further familiarize them with these tendencies.”

“We identify candidates and future leaders that add to the organization’s values and culture,” Ms. Klarfeld says. “This allows our clients to look more intently at a candidate’s skillset and how they can contribute to the organization’s strategy. This also highlights the diversity of experiences within the candidate pool and allows clients to appreciate how differences in perspective can introduce new ideas to an organization. As we navigate an ever-changing nonprofit world, it’s pertinent that we continue to identify ways to maintain not only an efficient search process, but also, a process that allows candidates to truly highlight their varied experience and fosters growth and healthy change within organizations.”

The Distinction Between Cultural Fit and Cultural Addition

Culture is more important than ever, especially given how quickly the talent market continues to evolve, but there is a distinction in having talent add to a culture rather than just slotting into an existing culture. “What we have seen over that time is an increased focus on culture as not only a ‘nice to have,’ but as a critical enabler of strategy and performance,” said Amanda Fajak, CEO of Walking The Talk, a ZRG Company. “In particular, over the past 18 months we have seen an increased interest in developing talent in support
of culture and recruiting talent to help shape and build culture. More importantly, there is increased priority around assessing leaders’ ability to drive your culture goals, and the legacy they will leave.”

The distinction between ‘fit’ and ‘contribution’ is critical, Ms. Fajak noted. “Hiring for culture fit can lead people to hire candidates who are just like them due to unconscious bias,” she said. “Culture contribution focuses not on whether a certain candidate will fit in, but on how they will impact, transform, and drive your culture. Historically, assessing for culture has often been left to gut sense and general perceptions of the hiring teams. Assessing for culture contribution takes this process out of the realm of impressions and makes it concrete, measurable, and fair.”

“Leadership drives culture change,” Ms. Fajak said. “Hiring for culture fit assumes that culture is created passively through assimilation; hiring for culture contribution acknowledges that culture is shaped actively through behavior and priorities. With this in mind, it’s critical to develop, select, and promote the leaders that will bring the behaviors and priorities that advance your strategic goals.”

Building a Culture of Psychological Safety

To have an environment looking for cultural additions, rather than merely cultural “fit” companies must first have a framework of inclusion. Over the past few years, particularly since the pandemic when the topic of workplace trust was brought to the forefront, many employers have focused on building workplace
environments in which their employees can feel safe, engaged, inspired, and productive. It is positive workplace culture that now separates the most successful companies from the average ones; a culture of psychological safety increases employee retention, builds engagement among workers, and increases value through productivity and innovation.

“The direct results of this can be seen in the areas of employee engagement and satisfaction, teamwork, and creativity, among others,” explained Justin Clark, COO at TI Verbatim. “Improvements in these areas, in turn, can result in increased employee retention, customer satisfaction, and overall firm productivity, which greatly affect the bottom line of the company. Stressing the importance of company culture as well as cultural fit are essential in realizing these benefits.”

With all the positive outcomes that good culture brings, organizations are looking to find effective ways to not only understand their own unique cultures, but to foster a sense of inclusion and belonging to fully unlock the value of the talent within their organizations.

“Organizations that embrace positive cultural change allow for a more psychologically safe environment for all members of the team, which is a foundation of a healthy organizational culture,” Mr. Clark continued. “Psychological safety allows for a more inclusive work environment where employees can share new perspectives and ideas that might not otherwise be considered, which increases creativity and helps to avoid predictable failures. This helps to change the stigma of failure, instead viewing mistakes as an opportunity for overall growth and enhancement, thereby reducing the number of future repeated failures as well as developing new, more effective processes.”

“Furthermore, it is important to note that the general workforce has experienced and will continue to experience a significant change in demographics as new generations enter the workforce,” Mr. Clark says. “These newer workers desire a culture where they can experience a sense of community and connection as well as a balance between work and personal lives. Organizations that embrace these changes will see positive results in the existing workforce as well as attract new employees who value these ideals, ultimately having a positive effect on the company from a cultural and financial perspective.”

Leveraging Culture for Business Outcomes

Building a strong and inclusive culture has clear benefits from a talent perspective and can lead to innovation, productivity, retention, and more, but unless the cultural strategy takes into account business goals and measures cultural improvement through business performance, cultural initiatives will fall to the wayside in favor of other priorities.

“All good culture work starts with understanding the business strategy and metrics that a company will use to determine success,” said Ms. Fajak. “These can include net promoter scores, number of new products launched, net profit, compliance incidents, speed to market, employee churn, safety incidents, or any other key drivers of the business. Once an organization has defined its strategic goals, we then assess the current culture to identify the strengths and gaps in their culture for enabling that strategy. The best way to unlock performance is by focusing on a few key changes to align an organization’s systems, symbols and behaviors to their strategic and cultural objectives.”

The Christopher Group views culture as a fundamental driver of business outcomes,” said Nat Schiffer, CEO. “We believe that a cohesive and aligned culture leads to improved employee engagement, higher productivity, and better retention rates, all of which contribute to enhanced business performance. Our approach involves collaborating closely with clients to understand their unique culture and integrating cultural considerations into our executive search strategy. By focusing on cultural alignment, we help organizations achieve their strategic objectives and sustain long-term success.”

While the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of business might draw the initial blueprint, it is the ‘why’ – the cultural ethos that permeates through every task and transaction – which breathes life into corporate strategies. Organizations that have triumphed amidst adversity often attribute their coup to a potent combination of culture and tactical wisdom, where the former acts as the enduring fulcrum for the latter’s execution. “We start by understanding the core values and mission of the company through in-depth discussions with leadership and key stakeholders,” said Tom Wilson, managing director of Gallagher. “This understanding helps us identify the
cultural attributes that will support the business’s goals. We then focus on integrating these cultural elements into our recruitment and leadership development processes. By identifying future leaders who not only align with but also complement and enhance the existing culture, we contribute to creating a dynamic environment where diverse perspectives foster innovation and resilience.”

“Moreover, we evaluate how the company’s culture supports its operational and strategic goals,” Mr. Wilson says. “We look for opportunities where a shift or enhancement in culture could lead to better business outcomes, such as improved employee retention, higher customer satisfaction, and greater market competitiveness. Our goal is to ensure that culture acts not just as a backdrop but also as a proactive catalyst for an organization’s success.”

“NU’s search outcomes are a direct result of our organizational culture and close focus on our clients’ culture,” said Nada Usina, co-founder and CEO of NU Advisory Partners. “To be sure, our culture-forward
approach enables us to deliver executive search that is as driven, innovative, and responsive as the organizations we serve. The fact is, we understand that recruitment is about more than identifying qualified candidates; it’s about ensuring their seamless integration into the client organization. With this in mind, we tailor our approach to meet the specific needs of each client.”

“We recognize that when candidates align with a client’s culture, they are more likely to thrive in their roles,” Ms. Usina added. “So, we take the time to understand our clients’ values, norms, and expectations, then look for candidates who share those values, exhibit compatible communication styles, and demonstrate a genuine passion for their mission and vision.”

“Our own team members are hungry, nimble, and creative, inspired by our NU IDDEA framework,” Ms. Usina said. “These are the core values that foster divergent, fresh thinking among our teammates. For example, although industry experience can certainly be a valuable predictor of candidate success, we believe that the potential for growth, such as a demonstrated willingness to learn, adapt, and innovate, can be even more powerful. By leveraging tech tools and AI, we’re able to efficiently gather a pool of qualified applicants, leaving more time to focus on cultural fit and non-traditional attributes,” she continued.

“The throughline of all of this is clear communication: from the initial consultation to the final placement, we maintain open and transparent lines of dialogue with our clients, keeping them informed every step of the way, and addressing concerns or issues as they arise,” Ms. Usina noted. “Simply put inclusivity is a primary driver of innovation and catalyst for growth. Companies that are inclusive are better positioned to attract and retain top talent. NU included.”

“When it comes to executive search for our private equity clients, cultural fit takes center stage,” said Hang Bower, CEO and founder of Ethos Consulting. “In our experience, PE firms have been and are still focused on cultural fit because of the positive impact to their business when engagement and retention are high. Many firms we work with have rigorous assessments, sometimes one or two specific assessments are chosen and built into their hiring process to ensure a strong cultural match.”

“We have stayed the course focusing on culture alignment with our search and assessment process because understanding the unique culture of each portfolio company within the PE firms helps us effectively match executives whose values, attitudes, standards, decision making skills, communication preferences and working styles align seamlessly,” Mr. Bower says. “On the candidate side, culture fit is important because they usually seek out opportunities for growth and development, challenging work, a sense of worthwhile accomplishment, and a chance to contribute quickly. Other common values candidates seek out are having an environment where they have high respect from their supervisor, ability to laugh at work, flexibility of how they can do their work, high trust from their supervisor (often described as being under the tent), and having their opinion mean something.”

“Lastly, high salary and good benefits are often mentioned, but almost as table stakes. From candidates to PE firms, culture alignment remains paramount to success,” Mr. Bower added.

Finding the Synergistic Fit

For years, the search industry has focused on and refined their expertise in hiring for role fit. “While the focus on role fit is critical, it is not sufficient,” Ms. Fajak of Walking The Talk noted. “The bestin-class search process also considers culture. This moves culture from an intangible and unspoken idea to a tangible and measurable set of behaviors. In the fast-paced world of private equity, this can make the difference between success and stagnation.”

The age-old hiring dilemma of ‘culture fit’ versus ‘skills fit’ has been replaced by a more profound question: how does this talent enrich our cultural ecosystem? By leaning toward the latter, PE and corporate entities alike are making strides in not just finding a talent that fits in but one that adds value and edifies the cultural ecosystem.

“In our experience, there are unique culture profiles for different value creation models which, if leveraged, can unlock accelerated performance,” said Ms. Fajak. “This is key to understanding where to focus effort. As a result, we have been putting significant focus on leveraging assessments to understand culture contribution at an individual level and at an organizational level.”

By demystifying culture at PortCos, PE clients have realized several benefits, Ms. Fajak points out a few: Informed Decision-Making: make strategic investment decisions with confidence by gaining deep insights into the leadership teams driving your portfolio companies; Enhanced Performance: empower leadership teams
to perform at their best, driving innovation, growth, and profitability within portfolio companies; Risk Mitigation: identify and mitigate leadership-related gaps and risks early on to safeguard the success of your investments and maximize returns; and Value Creation: drive value creation initiatives by optimizing leadership capabilities and fostering a culture of excellence within portfolio companies.

Building and Sustaining Cultural Transformations

“True, lasting cultural change at an organization has to come from the top,” said Dana Feller, managing partner at Hudson Gate Partners. “There is no other way. It has to be a stated priority of the executive management team, and must also be a topic on every board of directors’ quarterly meeting agenda. Cultural change takes careful thought, honest conversation, and open-mindedness amongst both employees and management,”

“An important point: there must be a clear business rationale for making cultural change, because not everyone is going to philosophically agree with whatever the change may be,” Ms. Feller said. “However, if management can explain why making certain cultural changes will enhance the organization’s overall performance and profitability, it will be much easier to gain firmwide consensus. Finally, senior managers should be held accountable for acting as “culture carriers”; this can be done via performance appraisals and via discretionary compensation.”

“One of the most important (and challenging) questions we help our clients to solve revolves around building sustained cultural changes,” Mark Oppenheimer of Modern Executive Solutions said. “To do that, we believe it is critical to first understand why the client’s employees behave the way they do today. Without understanding
the underlying mindsets of the employees, we find that clients’ solutions are often missing the mark. For example, if adoption of a new feedback tool is slow, there could be multiple reasons. Perhaps the training was insufficient, and employees don’t fully understand how the new tool works, perhaps the new tool takes 10 steps to input data and the old tool took five, and so on.”

“Once we help our clients to understand the root mindsets of their people, we turn our attention to bringing about sustained change,” Mr. Oppenheimer said. “This involves four focus areas:

  • Role modeling the new behavior. Employees must see their leaders and peers “walking the talk”, otherwise the employees will question the importance and longevity of this change
  • Building understanding. Employees must understand what is being asked of them with regards to the change, and they must agree that the ask(s) makes sense
  • Developing skills. Employees must possess the talent and skills needed to make the change
  • Reinforcement. Employees must find it easier to behave in the new way than the old way, and formal mechanisms (e.g., policies, incentives, etc.) are needed to make that happen.

“Although always challenging, data show that these steps are the most important in sustaining change,” Mr. Oppenheimer continued.

“Culture starts from the top,” said Courtney Bickert senior consultant at DRiWaterstone Human Capital. “The behaviors of the leader are quickly infused throughout an organization, as is the reaction to that behavior – you are leading by example whether you know it or not. If the leader of an organization is a bully, other managers will emulate that behavior and the staff will quickly adapt by staying silent, not taking risks, and blaming others. If teams consistently see their leader rewarding risk (even when that risk did not result in the intended outcome), managers will take risks and innovate themselves, and they will encourage their teams to do likewise.”

“The first step in building or transforming your culture is to understand what it looks like today, and what you want and need it to look like going forward – so that your culture aligns with your purpose, and so that it is also driving engagement, performance, and success,” Ms. Bickert continued. “The culture also needs to be genuine to the leader. People can sense disingenuous behavior and will respond with distrust. As a leader, you can build a culture around some of your natural attributes and surround yourself with people who emulate the values and behaviors that you are seeking to bring to the organization. Bringing in leaders who are different from yourself will clearly demonstrate that you value the characteristics of that leader and help to build a robust culture.”

“Cultural change starts with the leader and becomes pervasive when the purpose and values of the organization drive decisions around hiring, structure, incentives, performance metrics, how the team celebrate wins and handle losses, and pretty much every aspect of the organization,” Ms. Bickert added.

Creating Sustained Change Through Engagement

“Building sustaining cultural changes requires a deliberate and multifaceted approach,” said Nat Schiffer, CEO of The Christopher Group. “Companies should start by clearly defining their desired culture, articulating the values, behaviors, and norms that support their strategic objectives. This cultural blueprint serves as a guiding framework for leadership and employees. Leadership commitment is paramount in driving cultural change. Leaders should actively embody and promote desired behaviors, serving as role models for the organization. They should communicate the importance of cultural initiatives and provide the necessary resources and support for implementation.”

Engagement is key to sustaining cultural changes. Companies should engage employees at all levels, encouraging participation in cultural discussions, workshops, and initiatives. “This inclusive approach fosters ownership and buy-in from employees, making cultural change more effective and enduring,” Mr. Schiffer continued. “Continuous communication is essential throughout the change process. Leaders should transparently communicate the rationale behind cultural changes, address concerns, and provide regular updates on progress. This open dialogue builds trust and ensures alignment across the organization.”

“Feedback mechanisms play a critical role in sustaining cultural changes,” said Mr. Schiffer. “Companies should establish channels for gathering employee feedback, allowing individuals to share insights, suggestions, and concerns. This feedback loop enables organizations to refine their cultural initiatives based on real-time insights from the workforce. Reinforcement of desired behaviors is key to embedding cultural changes. Companies should recognize and reward individuals who exemplify the desired values and behaviors, reinforcing the cultural norms they seek to cultivate. Consistent reinforcement through performance evaluations, promotions, and other recognition programs reinforces cultural alignment and drives sustained change,” he noted.

“When company culture has taken root in an organization, change takes time, patience, and rock-solid commitment,” explained Kris McFeely of Campbell & Company. “But it cannot come solely from the top down. True culture shifts take authenticity, vulnerability, engagement and buy-in of employees from every level of the org chart, along with continual feedback loops, intentional change management, and constant maintenance. Company culture is not something you can set and forget or impose with mandates from the C- suite alone; this is a full team sport. You will hit bumps in the road; you will need to assess, pivot, and re-engage. You can
only do that if you have a clear vision of the culture you’re aiming to build, which is also understood and enthusiastically fueled by folks throughout the organization,” Ms. McFeely added.

Evolution with Purpose

In an era where change is the only constant, organizational evolution is imperative. But the question that begs to be asked is: evolution toward what? The discerning companies of 2024 are not metamorphosing into mere hybrids of their former selves but are sculpting a new identity grounded in a purpose.

“To evolve their culture for the future, companies can adopt a forward-thinking strategy that fosters adaptability, inclusivity, and innovation,” said Jeff Hanahan, director of organizational optimization at TI Verbatim. “Integrating the latest technology advancements is an important factor as well, as it helps with communication, collaboration, and efficiency.”

“What we have seen over that time is an increased focus on culture as not only a ‘nice to have,’ but as a critical enabler of strategy and performance.”

Companies should also foster a culture of innovation, where it becomes the norm to reward employees or teams who develop new ideas and solutions. “Prioritizing diversity and inclusion enhance employee satisfaction and broadens the company’s perspectives, requiring strategies that actively recruit, retain, and develop a diverse workforce,” Mr. Hanahan added. “Embracing flexibility, such as offering flexible working hours and remote work options, can go far in attracting and retaining talent while demonstrating a modern, responsive workplace culture that values employee well-being.”

“Additionally, companies that prioritize continuous learning and development, by providing training programs and access to courses, are better positioned to evolve their culture,” said Mr. Hanahan. “Adopting sustainable practices and making decisions with long-term ecological impacts in mind can improve the company’s reputation and appeal to socially conscious stakeholders and the public. Strengthening communication through various platforms and encouraging open dialogue about the company’s direction also fosters a culture of trust and involvement. Lastly, regularly measuring the company’s culture through employee feedback and other key metrics allows for timely adjustments, ensuring the culture remains relevant and supportive of organizational goals. By focusing on these strategies, companies can create a dynamic and sustainable culture prepared to meet future challenges and adapt to the evolving business landscape.”

“To effectively evolve their culture for the future, companies must ensure that cultural change initiatives are supported and actively promoted from the highest levels of leadership,” said Janice Ellig, CEO and Barbara Stahley, managing director of Ellig Group. “A key strategy involves fostering a culture of inclusive communication, where the commitment to openness and dialogue starts with the CEO and senior leaders. By creating a questioning environment, these leaders not only encourage but also model the behavior of open questioning and engagement without fear of reprisal. This approach allows for a more dynamic exchange of ideas, promotes transparency, and builds trust throughout the organization.”

“Encouraging all to voice their perspectives also embraces diversity and inclusion, fosters innovation, and broadens perspectives within the organization,” they added. “In essence, when leaders prioritize and demonstrate inclusive communication, it sets a powerful example, shaping the company’s culture into one that is more agile, collaborative, resilient, and valuing the input of all employees.”

Future Skills in the Workplace

“I feel strongly that the claim that “humanities are dead” has been wildly overblown,” said Dana Feller of Hudson Gate Partners. “I am confident that softer skills – especially communication skills and interpersonal skills–- will be paramount for employers over the next decade. Too many students are studying computer science and coding at university right now.”

“Of course, society is going to need many technologically sophisticated employees in the future, but not at the expense of employees who have been taught how to think critically, to engage in productive debate, to manage, and to form relationships,” Ms. Feller said. “With AI’s ability to impersonate individuals over video and voice technologies, crucial deals and partnerships will need to be conducted in person – just like in the past – to ensure that one is dealing with the actual party. Employees who can develop and nurture trusted relationships with both internal and external constituents are going to be the most highly valued employees in the future.”

Hiring for Tomorrow’s Needs

The tides have shifted – while experiences carry the weight of tradition, skills are the harbinger of innovation and adaptability. The marketplace of 2024 demands a revision of our hiring strategies towards a focus on skills and qualities rather than merely similar experience.

“Leading and influencing a diverse group of people and building strong, healthy, cohesive teams are critical skills for today’s workplace,” said Rohan Paul, president of Teamalytics. “The workplace has become more complex in recent years; around hybrid work environments, multi-generational workforce, cultural and political polarization, technology/ AI advancements, and economic uncertainty. Given these complex challenges, leaders must adopt an intentional approach that includes clear vision and collaboration while focusing on becoming better mentors and coaches, fostering unity, and allowing teams to thrive in the face of complexity and uncertainty.”

“The workers of the future will need to have a high level of focus as well as time management and self discipline to excel in remote and hybrid work environments,” explained Leslie Loveless of Slone Partners. “They will be challenged by the many distractions of working outside of a conventional office setting and the lack
of consistent face-to-face interactions. Many younger people entered the workforce during the pandemic, so many of them have developed the skills needed to manage multi-tasking.”

The best workers, and the best leaders, are those who are open to learning. “Those most likely to succeed are receptive, even eager, to receive feedback and suggestions, listen to and process information, respond well to constructive critique, and adjust their work practices and routines as needed,” said Ms. Loveless. “They aren’t rigid and married to a specific way of doing things. They are willing and able to learn and grow and inspire others to do the same. Exercising a high degree of emotional intelligence will also become even more important in future decades as the multi-generational workforce continues taking shape, and as Gen Zers become a larger component of the workforce and begin assuming leadership roles. EQ will help equip workers to become better team players and more effective colleagues.”

“The best-in-class search process also considers culture. This moves culture from an intangible and unspoken idea to a tangible and measurable set of behaviors. In the fast-paced world of private equity, this can make the difference between success and stagnation.”


Finally, with the rapidly evolving pace of technology and generative AI, workers need to be more agile. “The ones who can adapt quickly and are willing to pivot are those who will be most successful,” Ms. Loveless continued.

“It’s paramount for organizations to leverage technology in today’s working world, especially as automation and AI continue to reshape workflows,” explained Dara Klarfeld of DRG. “Adaptability and a willingness to embrace emerging tools are key for organizations to discover potential for future growth and expansion. In
post-quarantine years, a shift towards human-centered and values-driven approaches is evident. As organizations continue to navigate remote and hybrid workplaces, it is important to consider how interpersonal relationships play a role in organizational success. Candidates often seek partnerships with organizations that recognize them as a full person beyond their contributions to the organization. Organizations should recognize the importance of empathy and compassion in fostering meaningful connections within internal teams and beyond.”

“Over recent years, these skill requirements have evolved in response to technological advancements, globalization, and shifting societal norms,” Ms. Klarfeld said. “While technical competencies are essential, there is a growing recognition of the importance of soft skills and values alignment in driving organizational success. As we move forward, the ability to adapt, communicate effectively, and uphold ethical principles will continue to define the future workforce.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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