People likely feared it after watching movies about it - but deep down, never imagined it would truly happen. Even when it started to happen, a lot of people were saying “not us” or “not here.” Boy, were we wrong! COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, and the world, as we knew it changed.
Business leaders had to adapt quickly. Teams that had never worked remotely were suddenly quarantined at home and forced to figure it out independently. Employees looked to their leaders for guidance in this unprecedented time; many feared they’d lose their jobs, and for many, that fear also became a reality. Over six months, more than 60 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance — that's more than the number of claims filed during the 18-month Great Recession. (Business Insider October 8, 2020)
Difficult and painful as it has been, tough times make us grow and learn. Here are some of the biggest lessons leaders have learned through the pandemic:
Many leaders dismissed the idea that remote work would be sustainable. They weren’t convinced that people could get as much done at home as they would in the office. They knew that if their employees went remote, they wouldn’t be able to micromanage them the way they would in the office.
A lot of leaders had to give up that control, in a sense, when COVID struck. Happily, most leaders found their employees stepped up and worked beautifully at home when push came to shove. This had a lot to do with employees being less stressed. They didn’t have to spend time commuting, and they could be close to their loved ones. Leaders were also pleasantly surprised to discover that they could effectively manage a remote workforce.
It’s great news that this new way of working is working because for many, we aren’t going back to our former office environment anytime soon – possibly never. (NYTimes.com October 13, 2020)
Leaders have also learned that transparent communication and emotional intelligence are more important than ever. When you don’t have your team working right in front of you, it’s critical to be more open about what is going on. This includes updating the team on company numbers so that they truly understand how things are going within the business.
Additionally, during meetings and one-on-one coaching, it’s now clear that asking how an employee is doing is truly important -- not just a formality. Leaders don’t need specific details, but if their employees have a hard time, they need to be aware. That way, they can figure out a way to help. This protects the team’s productivity and makes the employee feel cared about, important, and heard. As a result, that employee will be more engaged and loyal in the future.
While work at home has offered more flexibility – studies find that this pandemic is wreaking havoc on stress levels caused by concern for our families, managing classwork while our children learn online at home, and we juggle competing schedules with our new home office mates. While we’re all doing all of this juggling, we’re also working longer days. (Harvard Business School September 14, 2020)
Checking in regularly with your employees and making sure they are “OK” goes a long way. Empathizing with your remote worker’s unique circumstances is more important than ever. Help your employees by focusing on output rather than the number of hours worked and coaching and recognizing work quality rather than the time taken.
Take time to laugh over our humanness and celebrate our imperfections. Since everyone is at home, leaders and team members alike learn about each other’s lives outside of work. Sometimes, video calls can result in embarrassing or awkward moments. Anyone who has had something go “wrong” on a Zoom video call can relate. Babies cry, dogs bark, and cats will walk right in front of the camera. While folks may blush for a moment, it’s not a catastrophic event. Now, most people just ignore these minor distractions. We’re all human, and we’re all giving each other some grace.
In the past, some companies would roll out new technology slowly. The process would include extensive beta testing and troubleshooting. Those times are gone. Now, leaders need to take quick and decisive action.
Any company that didn’t have chat software needed to make a swift decision, implementing one as soon as their employees went remote. Businesses without cloud storage had to make that change quickly as well. There wasn’t time to make sure it was perfect. Leaders now realize that this is ok. Done is better than perfect (if there’s such a thing, anyway). The rapid changes also forced “technologically shy” employees to just jump in and not be coddled, which is a good thing for their growth and development.
In fact, a recent McKinsey study asked executives how long they expected it would have taken their companies pre-pandemic to digitize 12 different activities and how long it actually took them once the coronavirus hit. When it came to remote working, companies moved 43 times more quickly than executives thought possible. Technology and collaboration tools are a positive addition to our work cultures.
The choice to go remote was a tough decision, but it had to be made quickly. There wasn’t a lot of time to “workshop” the idea. Companies needed to keep their employees safe, and making business operations virtual was the best way to do it in most situations. There was no time for leaders to second guess themselves.
All changes had to be made quickly -- even though not everyone was on board with every single decision. However, if changes are made with honesty and compassion, they will be better received, despite being difficult to hear and deal with.
“Times, they are a-changin’,” used just to be something that was said, but it was never as true as it is now! Leaders must adapt or be left behind. This has been a learning opportunity for us all. We have learned how we can still work together even though we are apart. We can still be close despite the distance. Leaders have learned that teamwork, even when done remotely, still makes the dream work! There will continue to be more to learn as we figure out our “new normal.”
You can do many things as a leader to support your business needs and your employees during this unprecedented time.
Hiring, just like everything else, has changed. Let The Omnia Group help your organization hire the best talent to work remotely, lead a team through Zoom calls, and keep morale high! Our behavioral and cognitive assessments are a great way to discover the top candidates for each job opening you have. We also offer virtual workshops on hot topics in hiring and employee development that you can watch anytime! Contact us today!
Every decision made after March 11, 2020, dictated our new reality going forward. After a while, it became clear that nothing will go back 100% to the way it was. Things have been irreparably changed. From now on, we all must adapt. Have you learned anything from COVID-19 about leading a team that wasn’t mentioned here?
Working remotely certainly has its perks for your team members. Sometimes, doing so is a necessity. But, prolonged (or indefinite) physical separation can cause employees to feel lonely and disconnected from their work. Unfortunately, when their morale drops, so does their productivity.
As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s your responsibility to keep your group unified, high functioning, highly effective, and in good spirits. How do you accomplish this when team members are scattered across the country or even the globe?
Bonus read: Conflict Resolution for Teams Working Remotely.
Enter: virtual team building. Team building involves getting employees together so that they can feel connected and learn about one another. Done right, the process can result in a tight-knit group that communicates effectively and collaborates to get things done for your organization. For best results, it should be done regularly and regarded as a critical business activity. Virtual team building is taking this important practice online.
Here are four main principles to keep in mind as you design your virtual team building program:
Let’s look at each in detail.
Clear, continuous communication is always necessary for your team to function at its best. However, it becomes even more critical when your employees are working alone in their homes. They can’t walk down the hall, pop their head into an office, and say, “got a minute?” That means they need to feel comfortable communicating with you and their team members in other ways.
So, how do you ensure that information and support flow as they should? Try implementing these tips:
When your team is virtual, in-person meetings are obviously out. That means you’ll need to find other ways to bring your team together and keep them on the same page. Fortunately, there are many tools you can use to make gatherings and collaboration a snap.
For example, Asana and Trello can help your virtual team keep projects organized. Platforms like Slack facilitate conversation throughout the workday. Programs like Zoom allow your team to actually see each other through video chat and are great for presentations. Of course, there are countless other options on the market. Your team’s unique needs will determine which specific tools to implement.
Your employees are people outside of work that have their own interests and like to blow off steam. When you encourage them to be their true selves during business hours, you’ll boost their morale and gain their trust. When you provide opportunities for your team members to be themselves together, they’ll forge lasting bonds that translate to improved employee engagement and productivity.
Here are a few ways your team can do this virtually:
Your team members crave professional development opportunities, whether they’re onsite or remote. When you provide them with a chance to learn new information and skills, you increase their loyalty to your organization, strengthen your team's talent, and set them up for future success. From a team-building perspective, it’s vital to give your group time to grow together.
Here’s how you could do it virtually:
At Omnia, we believe that truly understanding your team members is the key to leading them effectively. Our behavioral and cognitive assessments reveal deep insight into each employee’s strengths, challenges, and work preferences. This knowledge can help you create the ideal virtual team-building program for your group. The information you’ll get is so good that you might want to encourage results sharing as a team-building exercise!
Team building is essential for having a high-producing, tight-knit employee group. But, when your team members are remote, you need to get a little creative to make it happen. With the right tools, some employee intel, a willingness to experiment, and a few online-friendly activities at hand, virtual team building is possible.
Tell us: Which virtual team-building methods work best in your organization?
As a leader, you’re invested in the growth and development of your team. You know that properly coached employees can achieve your company’s lofty goals and be more engaged while doing so. But -- did you know that your coaching efforts could fall flat if you don’t have the right insight about your team members?
That’s because every person on your team is unique and will respond to being coached differently. So, for the best results, your coaching must be tailored to each individual, taking into account:
Don’t worry, though. You don’t need to spend years piecing together this intel. You can glean all of this critical information quickly through behavioral and cognitive assessments.
Let’s take a closer look to see how.
You’ve heard that leveraging your employee’s strengths is the best way to maximize their performance -- and it’s 100% true. Assessment results reveal what your employees naturally do well and where they tend to struggle. This knowledge enables you to craft a custom coaching program that builds on their strengths while addressing their weaknesses.
When you focus on their current capabilities, you empower them to grow using the tools they have. This lets them achieve quick wins, which boosts their confidence and facilitates continued development. By following the strengths-first approach, you’ll propel them towards greater success in your coaching program as well as their entire career.
Every member of your team processes and implements information differently. Assessment results will help you understand how each employee learns best. You’ll instantly know:
With this insight, you can tailor your coaching approach to each employee. For instance, you may need to slow your pace when coaching an employee who processes information methodically. Or, if you’re working with an especially analytical team member, you may want to base your coaching on facts and figures instead of personal anecdotes. Finally, if your employee needs a firm structure to thrive, you might want to ensure that your coaching sessions don't deviate from the scheduled topics.
Of course, the reverse of these scenarios can also be true. You may be able to move through information faster if your team member can handle it. Or, you could tell more personal stories when coaching people-oriented employees. When working with team members who prefer less structure, you can make coaching sessions more adaptive to their changing needs. The bottom line: one size doesn’t fit all, so meet your employees where they are for optimal results.
Your coaching will be most effective when it aligns with your coachee’s long-term goals. That’s because your team member’s personal and professional plans drive everything that they do. So, to unlock their true potential, you must uncover what really motivates them. By tapping into their motivation, you can compel them to work harder and continue to grow.
Behavioral assessments yield this critical insight, allowing you to create a coaching program that’s a true win-win for both your employees and your company. Your team members will be motivated to excel in their roles because you’re helping them fulfill their career aspirations. And your firm will benefit from a knowledgeable, skilled, and engaged workforce.
Omnia offers both cognitive and behavioral assessments. Reliable and valid, when implemented together, you’ll learn everything you need to know to coach your team members effectively. You’ll understand how they solve problems, process information, apply new knowledge, adapt to change, and so much more. You’ll also become acutely familiar with their personality, allowing you to connect with them on a deeper level and foster trust.
The Omnia assessment results include more than just the data. The assessment reports show you what that data actually means -- and how you can use it to increase performance and engagement. In short, you’ll instantly become a more effective coach because your coaching program will truly cater to each member of your team.
A well-developed and committed workforce is your company’s single best asset. By becoming a better coach, you strengthen that asset, positioning your firm for future success. The first step to upping your coaching game is to create a tailor-made development program for each team member based on employee assessment results. Then, leverage the assessment insight in conjunction with employee strengths, and watch your team flourish.
As more and more organizations shift to using a remote workforce, the traditional in-person interview is also shifting into a virtual context. Remote interviews may not seem like they’re all that different from a physical interview. Still, they introduce many factors that can make them more difficult to manage if a company doesn’t put a lot of thought into implementing them.
Fortunately, several strategies are easy to put in place and will make remote interviews more likely to select the ideal candidate.
One valuable step to include in any remote interview process is leveraging tools to narrow down the candidate pool to qualified and suitable applicants. Pre-employment assessments are instrumental in this regard because they can help organizations screen out candidates who lack the competencies necessary for the position. Cognitive testing measures a candidate’s ability to think abstractly, comprehend new ideas, and solve problems, which is often critical to success in any new position. Behavioral assessments allow interviewers to determine which candidates are likely to be a good long-term fit for an organization. These assessments measure a candidate’s core traits and intrinsic motivators. Hiring managers gain valuable insight into fit for the job and how to effectively manage and motivate each employee once they are on board.
The results of these tests can be used together as part of the initial decision-making process. For example, if someone possesses all the hard skills necessary for success in the role but exhibits behavior that suggests they will quickly be looking for another job, it might make sense to prioritize other candidates. These assessments are easy to implement remotely and can be used as a screening tool to determine who moves on to more time-intensive interviews.
When an organization commits to remote interviews, it needs to make sure it can support that process. Many video conferencing platforms are available to choose from, but it’s a good idea for the company to choose one and stick with it. This helps to avoid any implementation problems and ensures that everyone involved in the interview process knows how to use the technology.
Some organizations may get by with a phone call or straightforward video conferencing software, but some positions may require additional features. For example, a candidate for a programming job may need access to developmental tools to complete a sample project as part of the interview process. It’s important to understand what tools will be needed ahead of time so that the interview process can be designed around the organization’s technology.
Going through the interview process is stressful, but the stress can be even greater when the applicant must use unfamiliar or complicated technology. Organizations need to be clear when providing interview details. If the applicant has to download a special application to conduct the interview or be in a specific location (such as a quiet room rather than a bustling cafe), that information must be communicated early and clearly in the interview process.
If assessments need to be completed before a live remote interview, the interviewer must provide reasonable deadlines to ensure that testing is completed in time for them to evaluate the results. They should also provide a resource list if video conferencing software is unfamiliar or complicated to launch. For example, many companies use Zoom, which is simple to set up and use, while Skype is robust but requires all users to have an account and software downloaded. This ensures that any potential problems are sorted out before the interview begins and avoids losing precious time to troubleshoot technical issues.
Having more people involved in the hiring process generally leads to better outcomes. According to a UK-based Behavioural Insights Team study, having more than one person involved in evaluating a candidate is far more likely to result in a good hire. In cases where applicants are very similarly qualified and have few “easy” differentiators, just involving two people in the interview process increases the likelihood of making the best choice by almost ten percent. Having four people involved improves the odds by almost twenty percent.
That’s because having different perspectives involved can reduce the chance of bias and raise concerns that a single person might overlook. However, the challenge of remote interviews is determining when having more people involved will make communication difficult. Hosting a video conferencing meeting with a large group increases the likelihood of interruptions and can make it difficult for the candidate to know who to focus on. When possible, the remote interview process should only involve the core team that will make the final decision. Having an agenda and communicating who speaks when is also helpful.
The same soft skills required in in-person interviews are necessary for remote interviews. It’s important to have a system in place to give the interview structure. That could include assigning specific questions to different interviewers or implementing a system for recognizing people who want to speak (such as a raised hand icon). The person leading the interview needs to have a very organized approach to ensure the conversation runs smoothly.
As with a live interview, it’s imperative to plan. Rather than relying on off-the-cuff Q&A, a structured interview focuses on specific areas and ensures that the interviewer gets the candidate's information. 90% of all questions asked during an interview should be related to the position or the company. Having behavioral assessment data can be especially helpful in pre-planning because the interviewer can ask questions better to evaluate the organization’s cultural fit.
In addition to distilling the applicants' pool to the most qualified and best fit before the interview, assessment data helps guide the interview process. It saves time and resources but cutting out unnecessary questions and identifying the top candidates. Whether it’s measuring an applicant’s overall mental aptitude with cognitive testing or getting a better picture of their personality with behavioral testing, Omnia assessments can help organizations improve their interview techniques and make better overall hiring decisions.
To learn more about incorporating our scientifically validated assessments into your remote interviews, contact our team today.
Working in remote teams has become the “new normal” of business life today. Some companies were already transitioning to work from home or partial remote roles; however, many have been forced to embrace remote work recently. Remotely distributed teams require organizations to leverage their workforce effectively and bring the most talented and knowledgeable people together in new ways to address their most pressing problems. With more companies transitioning to remote working in the coming years, managers must understand how to use collaborative tools to promote strong company culture and boost employee engagement.
At first glance, managing a remote team may not seem very different from leading one in person, but there are some significant distinctions. The most obvious is the fact that team members don’t occupy the same physical space. Since they don’t generally see one another when communicating, they lack some of the visual cues people take for granted when meeting face-to-face. It can also be more difficult for managers to promote collaboration, especially for team members who feel disconnected and disengaged from the rest of the team.
Maintaining a positive company culture that promotes collaboration can be a challenge for first-time remote managers. It makes sense that team members would interact differently from remote offices than they would in a company conference room, but managers have been working with remote teams for decades. It’s not impossible. It’s just different. Finding effective tools, maintaining consistent communication, and setting clear expectations help remote teams just as they do for those in-office.
Organizations that make concerted efforts to cultivate and manage their workplace culture tend to be more innovative and do a better job of retaining their top talent. Much of that is due to the strong correlation between company culture and employee engagement. When people feel like the company they work for is committed to goals and values they believe in, they’re more likely to be engaged and proactive in their work. Recognizing your employees' work, supporting their careers, and creating a culture of communication improves performance and productivity. Employees in these environments are more likely to hold themselves accountable while upholding the company’s core values.
Maintaining a high engagement level is important for all successful teams, though remote teams may feel more pressure to be self-motivated and proactive when working from home. Some employees will thrive in this environment, while others will need more guidance. Trusting your teams to manage their own schedules and communicate information effectively is important, and setting clear guidelines upfront will help. Remote teams with a healthy and collaborative culture are more likely to be highly engaged and productive than teams managed through unclear methods, lack consistent goals, or are strictly based on how long the person sits at their desk.
Managing remote employees may be different from managing people in an office, but it still comes down to the same principles: managing personalities. As in every workplace, people have their routines, capabilities, and preferred management types.
Understanding an individual’s differences is critical when managing a workforce. Employees who thrived in an office setting might find themselves adrift when they cannot get face-to-face interaction with coworkers. Conversely, quieter employees who dreaded small talk at office parties might suddenly become high performers in a remote context.
Predicting how an employee will respond to new work challenges doesn’t involve guesswork or gut instinct. Behavioral and personality assessment data can create a detailed profile of how employees will likely react when placed in specific situations. Employees who tend to be more extroverted and social may need more focused interaction than those who like to keep to themselves. Understanding behavioral tendencies is also important for promoting productivity and cultivating company culture.
Cognitive assessments measure more than natural aptitude; they also showcase how well an employee learns and adapts to new information. This is critical for shifting to a remote workplace, especially when people are forced to transition quickly. There is often less information and direct guidance in an unplanned change, so people need to be comfortable functioning independently and ask for help. Cognitive assessment data can help identify which employees will need more direct guidance after the initial shift and are more likely to adapt to remote working quickly.
With the right technology, remote leaders can easily stay connected with their team and ensure everyone is doing their part to fulfill the team’s objectives. In addition to a good webcam and a quality headset, every remote team should consider some essential business collaboration tools.
Traditional conference lines make it difficult to manage a meeting because visual queues are out. Without these cues, people tend to talk over each other, which can lead to frustration.
Video conferencing programs like WebEx, GoToMeeting, Zoom, or Adobe Connect make it possible for remote team members to see and interact with the rest of their team. These programs also allow participants to use features like hand icons and other tools to help manage the conversation.
Telepresence technology takes this a step further, with more sophisticated programs to make participants feel like they’re meeting in person. These programs include Cisco’s TelePresence series and Polycom high-definition conferencing.
Sometimes team members want to discuss without setting up a meeting, or they need to get someone’s attention right away. Instant messaging tools and social software like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Jabber allow them to check in with team members in a less formal way, like tapping a coworker on the shoulder.
These programs aren’t just good for project planning and brainstorming. They’re also a great way to build relationships. Team members can use them for casual conversations, questions, team-building activities, and even parties.
When team members don’t see each other every day, it’s easier to lose sight of what they’re each doing and how much time they’re spending on a particular project. That’s why it’s essential to use a project management system or software everyone is familiar with. These programs make each project visible and trackable. They also allow team members to easily communicate the next step, whether providing data or passing along a document for review. They can share files, assign tasks, identify dependencies, and check deadlines.
When team members are scattered across several projects or time zones, it can be difficult to determine when key tasks need to be finished to keep deliverables on track. Or to track billable hours. Time programming tools like TimeFox, Clockify, and Kronos allow teams to keep track of their work and project hours, which is especially helpful if you’re managing many clients or projects to monitor how much time you’re investing in each one.
Time tracking tools can also improve accountability, ensuring that all team members are putting in the appropriate amount of work and effectively managing their workloads. Setting up alerts for key scheduling milestones can also help to improve decision-making.
One of the major benefits of remote teams is their ability to collaborate over great distances and different time zones. As with any collaborative project, it’s helpful to have access to files anywhere, anytime, and they must be stored securely.
Additionally, your team needs to be able to share documents and edit them in real-time. Dropbox, GoogleDrive, and Microsoft OneDrive are all good tools for this. Cloud-based productivity software like Google’s G-Suite (which includes Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides) and Microsoft Office 365 feature public cloud storage integration that allows multiple users to edit documents and track revisions in real-time easily. Online whiteboard and presentation software platforms like Prezi, Conceptboard, and Scribblar also allow teams to develop ideas collaboratively and deliver presentations as a group.
While technology may never be the same as face-to-face interaction, it can help teams and clients meet, connect, and remain productive from anywhere in the world. Of course, remote collaboration tools are only as effective as the leaders who implement them. Unless effective strategies for managing remote teams accompany them, their impact on team performance will be limited. Behavioral and cognitive assessment data can provide helpful guidance when it comes to identifying the specific needs of remote employees.
Administered as part of the pre-employment hiring process or as a professional development tool, Omnia assessments are independently validated as 93% accurate and free of bias forms. Our team constantly works to adapt to the latest tools, technologies, and testing methodologies to provide you with the best possible employee assessment insights. Contact us today for a consultation about your company’s specific assessment needs.
As more employers shift to a remote workforce, managers look for ways to manage their teams more effectively. Whether a company is hiring new employees or transitioning workers into a remote context, having easy-to-interpret, actionable data about behavioral tendencies and cognitive traits provides leaders with an invaluable resource for developing a remote management strategy.
When it comes to obtaining this data, there are few methods more effective than employee assessments. The benefits they provide are well worth the effort to implement them!
There are a few different categories of employee assessments that organizations use to gain greater insight into their workforce. Often administered early in the hiring process, job assessments are an invaluable tool for gathering information about a candidate’s cognitive abilities, behavioral tendencies, and skill competencies. For existing employees, assessments tend to focus on developmental needs, identifying areas they need to grow and better contribute to the organization.
Most employee assessments take the form of a short test, usually completed in ten to thirty minutes, and the employer receives the results. The results are compared to pre-defined scoring ranges established by the employer. This data makes it easy to analyze candidates objectively during the hiring process and help identify tendencies or deficiencies that may not appear during the interview process.
Although they use the same terminology, test-based employee assessments aren’t the same as a more general employee assessment. The latter is more akin to a performance evaluation, which combines objective performance metrics (often called key performance indicators or KPIs) with a more subjective evaluation of an employee’s job performance. While such reviews might incorporate employee development assessments to evaluate what skills an employee has gained or needs to improve upon, these tests are just one component of a more holistic evaluation process.
However, it’s important to note that pre-employment testing benefits are useful beyond the hiring process. The data can provide actionable insights that help leaders manage their teams more effectively over time.
Yes. Most employee assessments are administered online. One of the benefits of pre-employment testing is that it is less vulnerable to bias. Rather than spending excess time and resources, employers can focus on a select group of highly qualified applicants.
Managing a team remotely is a new challenge for leaders accustomed to overseeing employees working in a physical office. Remote teams have different communication needs, building trust and fostering a collaborative work environment. Fortunately, much of the hiring process's assessment data can be quite valuable when managing a remote workforce.
Cognitive testing provides insight into how well people learn from experience, adapt to new situations, and comprehend new concepts. This data can indicate which employees will function independently and which will need more hands-on direction. It can also reveal which employees are more likely to communicate effectively, which will be invaluable for any leader looking for people who can take on some management-related tasks.
On the other hand, behavioral assessments can provide insights into employee motivation and the best ways to manage remote employees. This data shows how assertive an employee is, what communication styles are most effective, the pace at which they operate, and how much structure they need to perform at a high level. It can also identify potential sources of conflict. If one employee is prone to frustration and anxiety, pairing them with more aggressive tendencies could be a recipe for disaster.
With over 30 years of experience in helping companies optimize and improve their workforce, The Omnia Group offers a range of scientifically validated employee assessments that can provide tremendous insights. Fully compliant with EEOC/ADA guidelines, our proprietary assessment tools are free of age, race, gender, and cultural bias.
To learn more about how the Omnia Profile can help your business evolve its hiring and management process, contact our team today for a consultation.