While the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect how many companies operate, here’s what hasn’t changed for business.
The best way to grow it.
As important as a professional web presence and engagement on social media platforms are, investing in the right people and nurturing their growth outrank both, said Wes Ashworth, Vice President of Executive Search at Lee Group Search, an executive recruitment firm headquartered in Newport News.
“Having the right people in the right seats is always number one,” said Ashworth, who specializes in partnering with companies nationwide to find the talent they need to grow and scale their business operations. “You can have the best business plan, the best technology and even the best product. If you don’t have the right people, you’re not going to get very far.”
As a longtime recruiter, Ashworth regularly hears from candidates who lament the lack of fulfillment in their jobs. That doesn’t mean they’re lazy nor does it mean they aren’t doing the job.
But passion correlates to drive.
“Their performance, even if they’re self-determined and hardworking, is never going to be what it could be,” Ashworth said. “You see that same person find a job with a company where they spend 80% of their time doing something that gives them fulfillment and excites and gives them energy instead of taking energy. That person can change the entire outlook of a company.”
When Ashworth talks with applicants at Lee Group Search, he can converse for an hour or more and never mention a particular job. He wants to find out what makes folks tick, what they like to do in their off time, what’s important to them. That enables him to align talent more effectively rather than matching a resume to a position.
Company culture matters, too. Some candidates yearn for creative freedom whether it’s presenting ideas or changing company processes. Others value structure and wanting to complete a job function as described. Knowing how the company operates and how the candidate thinks allow Ashworth to recommend successful placements on both ends.
The refrain that Ashworth hears repeatedly from candidates that hiring manager often don’t take as seriously as they should relates to interviewing. Candidates don’t just judge a business’s website, brand and interviewer. They examine the hiring process as a whole — is it long and tedious? Are too many steps involved? Does management appear indecisive?
Most companies focus primarily on their product. Ashworth’s specialty at Lee Group Search is navigating the hiring process for both employee and employer.
“We take the time and give the attention to get to know the companies so we can understand what the right fit is and what success looks like,” he said.
Having that “third-party” perspective is often helpful to employers who can be too close to their hiring process to recognize the flaws in it. Candidates aren’t shy about providing feedback to Ashworth. “Our model is to be a true partner and provide that insight to employers,” he said.
Businesses who have been able to grow despite the pandemic have learned to be both flexible and adaptable to what makes sense, he noted, not doing what’s always been done. Many companies who never envisioned allowing employees to telework have recognized its value. Virtual meetings are the new norm.
Ashworth also encourages employees to invest in their employees. Continuing education offers one way to do that. But there is a growing emphasis on the holistic approach of valuing employees as people and ensuring they have a voice in decisions. One effect of the pandemic is employers demonstrating flexibility regarding work-life balance.
“If a company is showing that they’re invested and committed to an employee, it’s much easier for that to be reciprocated,” Ashworth said. “It’s much more costly and expensive to replace a top performer than it is to develop that person and give them the opportunity to learn and grow.”
Learn more about Lee Group Search and connect directly with Ashworth at leegroupsearch.com.
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