Over the last few years while Newaukee has been working to build Milwaukee’s creative magnetism, its sister company Newance has been helping businesses put the talent attracted by that magnetism to work. Since the start of the pandemic, Newance co-founder and CEO Amanda Daering has spent much of the pandemic advising her clients on how to build and maintain resilient teams.
“For me, resiliency is less about perfection than it is about managing internal energy in response to external events,” she says.
For many companies, COVID-19 is the ultimate external event. As a talent attraction, retention and career planning consultancy, that’s true for Newance as well. Where recruitment had previously made up 90% of the company’s business, it’s now just 30%. Although Daering says she is getting a lot of questions on how to make difficult layoff decisions, companies are also looking for ways to strengthen their teams. Here are some of her tips:
- Make use of objective assessments. Daering and Newance are big proponents of using assessments like Predictive Index or DiSC to get a more objective sense of a person’s work and personality style. These types of objective evaluations help teams understand how to communicate better with each other, and match team members with tasks that match their strengths. They’re also useful for evaluating potential job candidates by making up for some of the “gut feeling” that’s lost interviewing over video, without the unconscious bias that may cloud judgment. The goal isn’t to rate skills, she says, but rather to help management align people with what they’re good at.
- Be creative and open to change. Resilient teams are the ones getting creative about what works for them, she says: “The biggest mistake I see companies making right now is taking all of their regular in-person meetings and just duplicating them online. It’s too tiring. No one can sit on Zoom for eight hours.”
- Communicate. Talk about what’s is changing and what isn’t—and why. Some things will need to change, and clarity can go a long way toward mitigating the pain that can come along with that. Resilient team members are self-aware and open about when they have the energy to jump into a project or when they don’t.
- Level up your managers. Companies are dealing with how to replace the trust that had been built in breakrooms and through hallway chats. “Those things don’t exist right now,” she says, “so it’s more important than ever that managers are good at their jobs.”
- Don’t neglect workplace culture. Echoing Newaukee CEO Angela Damiani’s Focus Forward podcast interview, one of Newance’s guiding principles during the pandemic has been that connections are even more important now that many of us are working remotely. Things are difficult, and budgets are tight—but, says Daering, “Engagement is about building and capturing energy within people, and now more than ever, people need that energy to get results. Culture equals results. Engagement equals results. A lot of angry, unhappy people is not going to get you results.”
- Accept that the shift to remote work isn’t temporary. The option of working remotely and more flexible hours will be a given going forward, even after the pandemic has passed. “Working from home means that we’re seeing workers as real people,” she says. “Hopefully this will lead to more of a balance between work and home life.”
Daering points out that for Wisconsin companies in the tech sector, where there is still a talent shortage, the mainstreaming of remote work has the possibility of opening up a much wider talent pool. Relocation is a big step to take for a new job that may not work out; it’s a much smaller step if they’ve already been working remotely for a company and observing the workplace culture and quality of life.
Newance was co-founded in 2018 by Daering, Damiani and Newaukee Chief Idea Officer Jeremy Fojut. While the majority of its clients are located in Milwaukee and Madison, it also works with companies in New York, Houston and other tech hubs.
The company takes a holistic approach, with the goal of looking at any situation from every possible angle in order to help shape the best possible outcome.
“What Newaukee has always been great at is creating a magnetism to their events, and that’s because they’re really good at thinking through all of the different elements. We do the same thing in human resources,” Daering says. “For example, first you think about your business strategy and what sort of talent strategy is in alignment with that. Then within that talent strategy, you need to think about a lot of moving pieces: what are you saying and how are you saying it—and why? What are the structural elements of your process, and what kind of things are you encouraging or discouraging through it?
“In particular right now—and rightfully so—people are taking a look at their hiring systems and thinking a lot about whether they’re ripe for bias, and how to remove that bias. Making sure those systems are fair, are equitable.”
For more from Newance, visit its website at www.newance.co.