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Talent rules in normal circumstances – and even more so in times of duress. In “Now Is an Unprecedented Opportunity to Hire Great Talent” (HBR, May 2020), Claudio Fernández-Aráoz suggests that during periods of financial uncertainty, “rather than thinking in ‘either/or’ terms, you’re either hiring or you’re downsizing, …embrace the ‘and’; understand you can do both….” Talent – and leadership talent in particular – remains paramount to an organization’s ability to survive and position itself to thrive in recovery. There is opportunity in every crisis – the most successful organizations leverage disruption to create competitive advantage.

Crises force executives to take a hard look at their teams and assess whether they have the right people in the right roles. Recent challenges may necessitate a very different operating model or even business strategy. Now is the time to take a step back, think carefully about what is required to win, and evaluate top talent against both the evolving “new normal” and the opportunities that lie ahead.

  • It starts by getting laser-focused on what critical roles must deliver – painting the target for what success looks like by creating a “scorecard.” (This is particularly important when business strategy and job demands are in flux.)
  • It continues with thoughtful evaluation of current talent against that forward-looking scorecard. Internal talent review processes augmented by robust external assessments like Ampersand’s facilitate gathering relevant data, rigorous discussion, and, ultimately, decisive action.
  • With data in hand, thoughtfully determine if this team is the one to take your organization forward. If so, lock arms and go. And, if changes are needed, take full advantage of recent dislocations and angst to ensure you have the human capital to compete and win.

We can’t say it enough: Talent rules. Don’t let expedience, fear, or “we’ve always done it this way” stop you from taking advantage of this unprecedented year to objectively build a truly capable team to lead into the future.