Tina Hamilton, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Philadelphia, is founder and CEO of myHR Partner, a human resources outsourcing firm that manages HR for small- and medium-sized businesses in 26 states. As leaders navigate the unexpected hiring challenges organizations face in finding the right talent in this new normal, we asked Tina what qualities have become essential for employee success. Here's what she shared.
Of all the responsibilities an entrepreneur has, building and managing their team is at the top. "Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was--and still is--the most important thing we do," said Marc Benioff, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce.
You probably have a good idea of the traits you value for each role in your company. But with the workplace changing nearly overnight because of the pandemic, you need to consider another set of characteristics. Many former nice-to-haves have become must-haves.
As you review the qualities below, think about your organization and your team members. Which of them already display these traits? Which are adaptable enough to be trained? And which might be struggling to acquire the skills that will still be valuable in a post-pandemic business world?
- Integrity. Of course, you want to hire trustworthy employees. They represent you and your company. Integrity has taken on greater meaning now that many people are working from home with reduced management guidance or observation. We must trust team members to have the integrity to get their jobs done well, adhere to timelines, and confess any mistakes or other failings. (That also means leaders must provide an environment that is open to employees learning from their mistakes.) Even everyday tasks such as tracking time require integrity when working remotely.
- Personal productivity. Entrepreneurs are naturally self-motivated, self-directed people. We generally want to hire people like us. This quality is more important than ever as direct supervision dwindles. How good are your team members at staying focused and overcoming distractions? Productivity also involves thinking a step ahead rather than waiting for someone to give them direction. You can ask about prospective employees' productivity habits during interviews and reference checks.
- Self-awareness. Your team members must be able to recognize when they need help and have the confidence to express it. They need to know their weaknesses and be unashamed to look to other team members or ask for upper-level guidance rather than plowing ahead and hoping for the best. You want people who can balance the need to be a productive self-starter with an honest understanding of their limitations.
- Professional written communication skills. Writing skills have never been more critical. E-mails and texts--the most common forms of workplace communication in remote or flexible workplaces--need to be clear and concise to avoid misinterpretation and wasted time. Some people under-communicate, which could be interpreted as being cold or unfeeling. Others over-communicate, which frustrates those who must wade through 30 sentences for a message that could have been said in one or two. Set clear expectations for everyone and find training for those who need it. Communication is a skill that can be improved.
- Digital aptitude. The ability to use video conferencing, collaboration tools and project management platforms is crucial now and will likely remain important even if we return to offices full-time or part-time. Many of these systems are here to stay. Some employees--especially digital natives--pick them up easily. Others may require training and steady encouragement. Your organization will not be efficient if even a small percentage of people resist adopting new technologies.
- Flexibility. Many people have become accustomed to working from home or at different times during the day. Variable customer or client needs can create varying time demands for your front-line team or service professionals. Cross-training on manufacturing and assembly roles can allow your team members to fill in for absent workers or adapt to changing demands. That means everyone will need to be flexible to accommodate the diverse schedules and availability of teammates, clients and external resources. Someone who can go with the flow and adjust to fluid situations will be more successful than someone who cannot.
The world is changing before our eyes. Now is the time to assess your employees to determine which possess the skills that enable them to change with it. It's also the time to examine whether your company has the structure and technology in place to empower your workforce to adapt. That includes the human resources capacity to train employees and evolve the company culture from top to bottom to meet new demands during and after the pandemic.