The COVID – 19 crisis has brought the entire world to its knees. What started in the city of Wuhan in China in December 2019 has quickly escalated into a global pandemic that is testing the social fabric of societies across the world.
As the crisis escalates, perplexingly, we are seeing startling differences in the way the crisis is being managed. Eastern governments have taken the aggressive approach with early intervention, extensive testing, mandatory lockdowns (as in China) as well as rapid upscaling of critical infrastructure (as seen in China with the construction of two hospitals in 2 weeks). Western governments, on the other hand, have operated at a pedestrian pace and have been laissez-faire in their approach, which has resulted in COVID – 19 cases spiralling out of control.
It is in these challenging times we must keep the human spirit alive. Below are 12 quotes that put the current crisis into perspective, and offer some insight into how to cope during this time of duress.
“Reduce transmission. Do not just let this fire burn.” – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa
“The COVID – 19 outbreak is having serious consequences for factory and gig workers, and global supply chains. Let’s learn the lessons of the 08-09 financial crisis and design income support that working families and businesses need.” – Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Federation
“Social distancing is our current best defence against COVID-19.” – Michelle A. Williams, Dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA
“A significant proportion of the global population could be infected” – Professor Yik-Ying TEO, Dean, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore
“Over-reacting is better than non-reacting” – Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, Dean and Professor of School of Public Health, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.
“Focused, effective communication and shared trust are essential.” – Landon Myer, epidemiologist, University of Cape Town
“If we continue with business as usual, this will blow up really quickly.” – Michal Caspi Tal, PhD, Instructor at Stanford Medical School
“I genuinely believe the responsible thing to do right now with the Coronavirus is to stay home from work, so we don’t all spread it. One boring month working from home and watching Netflix inside after hours is worth it if we can slow down the spread of the virus like China did. It’s time for us to be responsible adults and own what is happening. The virus is not something to be feared; it’s something to contain as soon as possible through responsible action.” – Tim Denning
“In this information age, fear and concern around health issues like the Coronavirus can be amplified. It is more important than ever to check in with yourself and assess how you are doing – not only physically, but also mentally.” – SHRM
“If I were in office today. I’d pick up the phone to Washington and seek a meeting of G20 leaders, Health Ministers & Finance Ministers. Markets need to see the world’s 20 biggest economies are acting together in solidarity and will use stimulus as needed to overcome Coronavirus.” – Kevin Rudd, 26th (Former) Prime Minister of Australia
“If the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it is the lengths some people will go to when desperate. Next time you want to judge boat people, refugees, migrants fleeing war-torn land – remember we fought over toilet paper.” – Fraz Butt
Let’s hope that things take a step in a positive direction, and we can get on top of this crisis soon. We stand to lose a lot if we do not work together collaboratively, compassionately, and in solidarity as a global community.
Whatever you do, look after yourself, your friends and your loved ones.
Career stagnation is one of the most frustrating experiences anybody can go through. Some people have continuous career success; some experience lulls and some end up in a downward spiral and struggle to pick themselves up.
To get around this, you need to peel back the layers to understand what is behind the crisis, and that involves a proper understanding of what inspires and motivates you. Here are eleven thought-provoking questions you need to ask yourself to help you put an action plan together to get you back on track.
1. Am I using my time, background and experience effectively?
2. What things can I control in my career?
3. What is achievable?
4. How do I come across to others?
5. What are my weaknesses?
6. What’s great about my career so far?
7. What are my core values?
8. Am I aligned with my values?
9. What does success look like to me?
10. Where do I want to be in my career five years from now?
11. How can I move forward and facilitate the achievement of my goals?
In the words of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “success at anything will always come down to this: focus and effort and we control both.” Regardless of where you are in your career, your attitude will play a crucial part in determining your career trajectory.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
In one of my previous corporate recruiting roles, I had the above quote from Albert Einstein pinned above my desk. For me, the quote signified two things in recruiting. One, I believed that it depicted the flawed mindset of many hiring managers and recruiters who had a key role to play in the recruitment process. Second, I saw it as a stark reminder that we absolutely cannot treat the recruiting function as static.
Sadly, the perception of the hiring manager community of an in — house recruiting function is that it should deliver the same over and over again with the same methodologies and techniques that were used previously. Recruiters then fall into this trap and then end up on the wrong side of this and are blamed for failures in the hiring process. What you then get is a perpetual cycle of finger-pointing, mud — slinging and blame. It doesn’t help either party and just creates stress and animosity. In my view, this arises because of the ineffective structure of the recruitment function and the relationship between the recruitment function and the hiring manager community that has developed over time. The recruitment function has allowed itself to become subservient and this has resulted in a master/servant relationship which in turn has created not recruitment but an administrative function — taking orders rather than spearheading the hiring efforts. At its best, a recruitment function should be the engine room for talent.
With the proliferation in the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning in recruiting in the years ahead, companies with recruiting functions that find themselves stuck in this master/servant relationship run the risk of becoming defunct. Below are ten risks that are setting your recruitment function back:
Your recruitment function isn’t aligned with the line business (hiring managers). You are taking orders and instructions rather than providing consultative support to the business. You work reactively rather than proactively. There is no forecasting of talent requirements which means you can’t build talent pipelines and your recruitment team is always starting a search on the back foot. A modern recruitment function works collaboratively with the line business to forecast recruitment requirements so they can plan ahead of demand.
Your current recruiting team does not have the right skills to perform their tasks effectively. You aren’t investing in the right people. On a broader level, the structure of your recruitment department is inadequate to meet the needs of your internal stakeholders. The role of recruitment is changing so what you do internally must reflect that. The modern-day recruiter needs to be a trusted talent advisor to the business. If your recruitment team isn’t performing this role, then they’re just taking orders.
If your recruitment function is performing 70% of their recruitment tasks manually then they aren’t adding any real value to the business. Typical tasks include scheduling and rescheduling of interviews, sending interview reminders, booking interview rooms, capturing candidate documentation. A significant negative impact of having a manual system is that inevitably team members will suffer from burnout. Imagine running several recruitment campaigns concurrently, and then contacting all the shortlisted candidates for interview, booking rooms, etc. This is just unsustainable and is not the correct use of resources. I have personally been on the receiving end of this and can tell you that this is an extremely uncomfortable and stressful situation to be in. To be that trusted talent advisor, you need to automate the mundane tasks so your team can focus on delivering value.
Policies & Procedures
You need to be resolutely stubborn to enforce your recruitment policies and procedures to the letter. If you are constantly bowing to the pressures from hiring managers to bend the rules, you will never change the master/servant relationship. Your mantra, if you want to work collaboratively and effectively with the hiring manager community, should be, “our house, our rules.”
The above four are just baseline elements I believe that need to be addressed if you want to move away from a master/servant recruitment function to a collaborative and consultative one that delivers lasting value to the hiring manager community. The increasing uptake of artificial intelligence will put more pressure on recruitment functions to reform and restructure. Anything less than that will lead to a sure-fire path of extinction, and lead to the recruitment function being outsourced.
I’m a big believer in both vocal and visual affirmation. It’s a great way to quickly boost your mood and outlook because regardless of what type of work you do, there will always be something that stresses you out so take some time out of your day to reflect. If you can recall sometime in your life where you have been successful and visualize that in your mind, that will really help you – trust me! For me, its sports. I was a keen rugby player during my school days so I can look back and visualize my good performances to help lift my mood. However, in the absence of visual affirmations, below are eight statements (use whatever is relevant to you) you can use to elevate yourself.
“Nothing is that paramount.”
‘My scars show strength, not weakness.”
“I can stay positive when others are negative.”
“Going through pain will make me wiser.”
“Even when I am struggling, I am moving forward.”
‘Fear changes nothing.”
“The best option is to keep on going.”
“Kick back, relax and stay focused.”
Image Credit: Bill Davenport
Besides being a passionate talent acquisition professional, I am also an avid movie fan. I’m in total admiration of the actors and actresses that portray the roles scripted for them and the directors that make the scripts come to life. Whenever I come across a movie that has relevance to me in my career, I’m always eager to see it at the first given opportunity. So, if like me, you are interested in how movies deal with the work-related subject matter, you may want to check out the following titles.
The premise: The movie features Mae’s character (Emma Watson) who successfully secures a dream job at a technology company called the Circle. Things get off to a flying start in the beginning but she soon discovers that the company is up to no good and that its products may adversely impact humanity. She becomes the whistleblower and the chief architect of the company’s downfall.
Takeaway: I see this movie as a bit of an essay on the tech sector, revealing the prevalence of corrupt practices, including weak corporate governance and overbearing leadership. The company’s products pose serious ethical concerns around privacy which kind of reminded me of the Facebook privacy issues and Uber during the Travis Kalanick years.
The premise: Ben Whittaker (played by Robert De Niro) is a recent retiree who quickly struggles to deal with life post-retirement. He spots an opportunity to get back into work and applies successfully to become a senior intern at an online fashion company founded and run by Jules Ostin (played by Anne Hathaway).
Takeaway: What was pleasing about this movie was that this was the first time a ‘talent acquisition team’ is featured in a movie set. We see the candidate experience inflow. Indeed, Ben’s first interaction and interviews are with several members of the TA team, which suggests that the company in the movie probably has a robust interview and selection process. The film also raised some critical issues about work-life balance. In the film, Jules’s husband is a stay at home dad, allowing Jules to pursue her career often to his frustration. The movie also reassuringly tackles the issue of ageism in the workplace. Instead of casting aside senior citizens, it proactively puts together a program of inclusivity to reintroduce senior citizens back into work and utilize their experience. Probably suggests that the company in the movie values diversity and inclusion. In this movie, Ben helps Jules to reinvigorate both her and the company to overcome operational issues.
The premise: Dane Jensen (played by Gerard Butler) is a headhunter operating in the cut-throat world of agency recruitment. His job is, even more, challenging driven by his desire to outperform his peers, own the company while fulfilling the needs of his family – thus creating a clash of priorities.
Takeaway: Lays bare the inner workings of agency recruitment. It reveals the tactics – often underhand and unethical that recruiters use to win jobs and place candidates. A ‘win at any cost’ approach shows an industry culture that is incompatible with work-life balance. Agency recruitment isn’t for everyone. Struggling to juggle work and family life, Dane is fired from his job and then starts his own company working from home to take back control of his life.
The premise: Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) works for an HR consulting company that specializes in terminating employees on behalf of employers. He travels up and down the country and pleasingly collecting air miles in the process. He enjoys what he does but soon comes across issues that threaten his lifestyle by the emergence of a love interest, and a new hire which prompts him to reassess his life.
Takeaway: Firing people is unpleasant. Sadly, whenever a company goes through a rough patch, it’s human capital that has to pay the price through layoffs. This movie details that process and the issues that companies have to deal with to remain profitable. The movie also chronicles the life of an individual (Ryan Bingham) who seems content hopping from one city to another doing a compassionate job. How happy would you be always travelling for your career?
The premise: Based on Chris Gardner’s true story (played by Will Smith). The movie depicts a struggling salesman taking custody of his son and the immense difficulties he faces in pursuing a professional career.
Takeaway: A hugely inspiring and motivational movie that reveals in spectacular detail the struggles and stresses we face as human beings —an emotionally charged account of the worst that can happen to any capable person. Chris Gardner was a phenomenal hero of his own life facing one challenge and setback after another. In the end, he prevailed through his commitment and self- belief.
The premise: Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are two salesmen who find themselves struggling in their careers because of the digital age. They somehow manage to get internships at Google, where they compete against a talented bunch of youngsters to secure employment.
Takeaway: while critics referred to this movie as being a Google documentary, it’s really about how one needs to adapt themselves in a changing labour market that is being disrupted by technology.
The premise: Jennifer Anniston plays a CEO of a family-run company who threatens to shut down his brother Clay’s branch (played by T.J.Miller). In an attempt to persuade her to change her mind, Clay throws a lavish Christmas party to land a big client to save the day, but things do not go as he intended.
Takeaway: Both funny and rude, this movie is about the challenges involved in running a family business. It also highlights the importance of company culture. In the film, we see the client rejecting Clay’s business proposal because he doesn’t like the culture of his company. The conclusion from this is that you think you are the best company in the world, but if your culture isn’t right to those outside the company, you run the risk of damaging its reputation and profitability.
The premise: In Horrible Bosses 1 (2011), three friends concoct plans to murder their awful managers to secure their happiness. In Horrible Bosses 2 (2014), the three friends featured in the previous movie start their own business but get into problems when an investor cheats them, prompting them to plot revenge against their tormentor.
Takeaway: You’ll relate to this movie if you ever worked for a passive-aggressive boss, a micromanager or just plain unpleasant to work for. It’s a light-hearted look at how three individuals driven to despair by their managers are desperate to ensure their happiness.
The premise: Andy Campbell (played by Charlie Day) inadvertently causes the dismissal of another teacher Strickland (played by Ice Cube). This act leads to Strickland challenging Andy to an after school fight.
Takeaway: Shows the impact of weak leadership trickling down to employees. You’ll end up with disharmony among your employees and a workforce that is isn’t engaged. In this particular story, the inability of leadership to manage an employee relations issue results in a fight between two teachers. Poor governance and a lack of concern for employee welfare are strong themes here.
The premise: Focuses on the life of Alexander (played by Ed Oxenbould) and his family. They each face back to back setbacks. He ends up thinking if he has somehow managed to curse the family.
Takeaway: Ben Cooper (played by Steve Carell) and Kelly Cooper (played by Jennifer Garner) are both working parents who face struggles in their professional lives. In the movie, Ben has the weirdest interview experience when he has no childcare; he has to take his toddler son with him to the interview. His wife Kelly, who works for a publishing company unintentionally changes the words in a children’s book which result in the book being full of rude words. Despite their individual misfortune, Ben actually ends up impressing in his interview and gets the job whilst Kelly’s mistake actually ends of benefitting her company. The movie is a reminder that we are all not perfect at the end of the day and that sometimes it’s ok to have a bad day and you can’t do anything to change it.
So these are my favourite career-related movies. If you get the chance, I encourage you to watch them as most of them are comedies so you’ll enjoy them. Happy viewing!
Image Credit: Manu Mohan