Category Archives: Off Topic

COVID-19 – What happens afterwards is the greater challenge

Nine months into the global Covid-19 pandemic and the impacts of this crisis are becoming all too familiar to us. In just nine months, so many lives lost, the lives of so many individuals have changed, and the destinies and fortunes of companies survival are on the line. We will probably never see such rampant change on this scale in our lifetime again. The human impact has been devastating. 

Below is just a snapshot of the negative impacts COVID has had:

  • Relationships and marriages have come under strain during the lockdowns.
  • Children cannot receive a proper education as classes have shifted to blended or online learning, and their mental health is being detrimentally impacted.
  • Adult mental health is deteriorating with people suffering from loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression. 
  • People that have recovered from COVID will experience long term health issues.
  • Secure jobs have become unsecured, leaving millions in unemployment, and some jobs will disappear forever.
  • Companies have gone bankrupt overnight.
  • Gender pay equality has taken a hit.
  • Disadvantaged communities have fallen further behind in their socio-economic status.
  • People are ignoring their governments calls to socially distance and comply with anti-COVID measures.

While this pandemic rages on without any end in sight, there will continue to be devastating economic and societal repercussions felt across the world. This virus has created so many problems for countries and their governments and also revealed how intertwined the world we live in is. 

At the moment, best estimates for a vaccine are towards the end of 2020, but that depends on how successful the third phase trials have been. After that, there is still a period of regulatory approval whereby all Governments must approve the vaccine and declare it safe. As we look beyond the crisis, a vaccine will not fix all the problems overnight. Sustainable recovery will only take place if we address, economic, livelihood, social and political issues together. 

In the meantime, we must all do our best to follow the social distance and COVID protocols to protect each other. That will only happen if we do it together out of care and respect.  

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Manifesto for a Better Tomorrow

Covid-19 and the lockdown are causing many people to re-evaluate things in their life. People have been impacted in different ways to this crisis. There’s a lot of soul – searching going on as we all try to establish what our new normal might look like. I have been doing my introspection and have come up with my tips for a brighter and more sustainable future. I’m just sharing these to help others who are currently concerned what their future outlook might be.

5 Leadership Interview Questions to Ask in a Post COVID-19 World

Since the global lock-down began, my mind has become restless and has gone into overdrive with all sorts of compelling questions popping into my head. Noting the calamitous responses by Western countries such as the US, UK, Spain and Italy in handling the pandemic, the theme of leadership has taken centre stage. Observing the leadership competency and style of respective countries across the world, the following traits are evident in countries such as South Korea and New Zealand who have managed to be on the front foot in the fight against COVID-19.

· Humility and Respect — they demonstrated a total commitment to the people of their country and led from the front to ensure trust and integrity

· Compassion — they understood that their people were worried about their health, their jobs and took appropriate action to reassure them

· Clear strategic direction — they took early action against the pandemic and listened to the scientific advice taking a multi-agency approach by engaging all parts of their public health infrastructure

· Secure communication — they spoke to their people with honesty and kept them up to date regularly informing them of what they wanted them to do to ensure their health and safety during the pandemic

In the absence of a vaccine against the disease, we are journeying into uncharted water of uncertainty. As most Western leaders continue to fumble their way through the pandemic and erode their trust and integrity, we need to start focusing on cultivating the leaders for a post-COVID-19 world. For companies, this is critically important as we will require a new type of leadership that is future-focused, and committed to energizing their employees.

The following infographic summarizes the shift that needs to take place between the leadership of the past and the future.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8/

We need to ensure we have the right people in leadership positions that will take companies and their employees forward in this new world that will be driven by a level of disruption we will probably never see again for a very long time.

Below are five questions that interviewers must ask to understand the essence of a future leader.

How would you go about fostering a sense of community in your company or team?

What to look for: If they say they’ll create a family atmosphere, they have the wrong mindset. Your employees are not your children but fully formed adults. They should focus on how they will go about bringing people together and creating a special bond between the company and employees. If your staff are happy, your customers will be satisfied as well.

Do you think authenticity matters at work?

What to look for: Authenticity requires an enormous amount of transparency, so their core principles need to be robust in the first place. Consistency matters so they must ensure that they are excellent in the good times and in times of a crisis.

If you were offered this job, what would your reaction be?

What to look for: Their answer should reflect their true self. They should say that they are honoured to be given the role and the responsibility that accompanies the position. If they say, they will look forward to the challenge that’s not enough. As above, they have to own it in the good and bad times putting their people first.

How do you approach change management?

What to look for: Change is coming, and change will happen fast in the wake of COVID-19. Change is scary to people because it’s not guaranteed to be a success. They shouldn’t say to employees that ‘you need to embrace change’. They need to be transparent and honest in their communication — don’t withhold the truth from employees. They need to deliver their message in a step by step, bite-sized, easy to digest manner backed by a solid communications plan. They need to acknowledge the things that aren’t working and spelling out exactly how they’ll be fixed.

How do you ensure your employees don’t suffer burnout?

What to look for: With mental health a vital issue amid the pandemic, mental health is going to gain more traction than ever before. Leaders must understand the impact that positive mental health has at work. For this to prevail, a deep dive is required to understand the following — do people enjoy their roles, how is the organizational culture, and how is the relationship with their line managers? You need to identify the root causes of burn out. Employees need to feel connected to the work they do. If you have a purpose-driven and engaging culture, you’re on the right path.

The brave new world requires a new type of leader that truly understands the spirit of the organization and the people in them. It is so important that we recover trust and integrity in our organizations that have been displaced during the chaos of the pandemic. We need to start that process by selecting future-focused leaders.

Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Originally published on 4 June 2020: https://medium.com/@zabeonline_82980/5-leadership-interview-questions-to-ask-in-a-post-covid-19-world-a731ace51d51

How we can prepare to thrive in a post COVID-19 world

I was recently speaking to someone who said to me that we are living in a real-life disaster movie. I said yes, it is surreal, but we are in a situation we never anticipated. What makes the COVID-19 situation surreal is that back in February 2020 as coronavirus cases began escalating in Wuhan, China and other countries in the SE region, most of the Western world labelled it like the flu that would quickly pass. Only in March, Western governments began to take notice as cases started to arrive on their doorsteps, and by that time, people started getting sick. Suddenly, the situation was much more complicated and threatening to life. It was no longer a Chinese virus!

Fast forward to today, and we are witnessing a devastating and terrifying event that is shocking us all to our core. The loss of life has been colossal with no let-up in the global death toll. In an interview with the BBC, eminent medical researcher Sir Jeremy Farrar said that the UK was on course to have the highest numbers of deaths, exceeding Italy – that is quite a sobering thought. According to experts, our only way out of this is a viable vaccine, but even that is 12 to 18 months away. In the meantime, though, a mixed approach of testing, contact tracing, isolating the infected and sporadic periods of lockdown are recognized as interim solutions.

As the world economy grinds to a halt, there are some harsh lessons for us all to learn, and we need to learn them fast. It feels like the world has finally broken, and it’s collectively up to us to help fix it. What is happening to the world right now should be seen as its performance review. It should be the defining moment that a mirror was held up to the world, and the world saw how fragile and vulnerable it is. For us to thrive as humankind, we need to change our behaviours, and we can do that by changing the way we live. We would be foolish to think that we can go back to being as it was before the pandemic. Expect changes to come at the government level, company level and at an individual level. Here are some areas where I think we could get quick wins to live more sustainably and responsibly.

Companies will need to review their business models: Do companies require their employees to work from their office, or can their jobs be done just as productively by working from home (WFH)? Many companies in this pandemic that have usually resisted WFH before the crisis are inadvertently finding out that there are economic and employee engagement benefits of WFH for them.

BrandWe have seen the ugly side of companies during this pandemic. You only need to browse through the various online articles and news stories to understand the lack of compassion and poor judgement exercised by senior leaders in companies. Companies run the risk of negatively impacting their brand. Here’s a handy resource that names and shames employers in how they treat employees.

CleanlinessPeople are realizing that they are not as clean as they once thought they were. People are going to be paranoid about their cleanliness and cleaning regimes from now on. 

ClimateThe lockdowns across the world saw a dramatic reduction in CO2 levels globally. In Venice, the water became cleaner, the smog in China’s polluting industrial hubs reduced, people’ drove their cars less. COVID-19 has given governments a lot to think about who all have ambitious targets to reduce their CO2 levels. Surprisingly, it has shown that with intervention, climate change can be curtailed. This will be a headache for policymakers as they review their plans.

Despite all that we have lost because of COVID-19, my feelings are turning to hope. Hope for a better future for ourselves and future generations. The biggest gift humankind can give itself is to learn from the mistakes, and to improve upon the weaknesses that have been shockingly exposed during the crisis. To find the right answers, we need to ask the right questions – profound questions! Who exactly are we, and what sort of people do we want to be? What kind of world do we want to live in? These fundamental questions will help us reveal the solutions to the success of our existence.

Time Is Running Out – The West Needs to Level Up Its COVID-19 Response

Western countries are lagging in their battle against COVID – 19. In almost all of the countries in the Western world, not enough testing is being done, healthcare professionals do not have the adequate equipment, lack of or no contact tracing of COVID – 19 cases, and failure of the general public to observe social distancing properly. There is a sense that Western countries are out of their depth.

This week we have seen the deaths of two teenagers from COVID–19 in the UK – one fatality was 13 and did not have an underlying health condition. As a Brit, I am struggling to understand why the UK response has been so lacking given our relatively good record of dealing with major crises and incidents.

With global confirmed cases approaching 900,000, I’ve been reflecting on some of the responses governments across the world have put in place to deal with COVID–19. While most countries in the East, especially in the Far East have responded impressively and mobilized resources at short notice, what is still lacking in the West is a coordinated and more aggressive response overall. The battle against COVID-19 must be fought on several fronts. What we need to see all governments do is:

  • Ensure medical specialists treating COVID-19 patients have adequate equipment and appropriate facilities for treatment
  • Expand the level of testing of frontline healthcare staff, and increase testing of the general public through dedicated testing centres or home testing kits
  • COVID–19 testing of employees in companies that have more than 250 employees.
    More contact tracing through enhanced surveillance of COVID–19 cases. South Korean have been quite successful at this through their dedicated app. There are critics to this approach as it raises privacy concerns, but this is like wartime, and desperate times call for drastic measures
  • Better and consistent enforcement of the lockdown protocol to guarantee the success of social distancing
  • Government stimulus packages for the aviation sector and airlines. Potential job losses at Swissport, Dnata, Menzies Aviation, Virgin would be devastating for the world economy. We will need them once COVID -19 recedes to help us get back to reality and reuniting people that are currently stuck overseas and are living apart from their relatives
  • Rigorous monitoring of passengers at seaport, airports and transit points to serve as the first line of defence. Because we are about a year away from a COVID-19 vaccine, this monitoring should be indefinite as we are expecting a second wave of COVID–19 in the winter months, albeit with lesser ferocity
  • Schools should remain closed until the infection rate drops significantly

There is still much that we do not know about COVID-19, but Western governments need to be on the front foot, and they will only be able to do that if they adopt the best practices of other countries that have been successful in their COVID – 19 response.

Reflections on COVID -19 in 12 quotes

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.

Photo by Sindre Strøm from Pexels

11 Career Related Movies You Need to Watch Today

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 Circle (2017)

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 Intern (2015)

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.

A Family Man (2016)

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.

Up In The Air (2009)

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 Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

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 Internship (2013)

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.

Office Christmas Party (2016)

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.

Horrible Bosses 1 (2011)/Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

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.

Fist Fight (2017)

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.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

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