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Talent Acquisition, Business Strategies with Wellbeing in Leadership

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

From Kim Ford, Evolve Leadership Evolution, Rise Pittsburgh

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Outline with full transcript below:

What are the primary qualities you’re looking for in candidates?


Do their emotions overtake their responsibilities?


How does talent acquisition impact business strategies?


How do you design a work-from-home organization?


The importance of having the element of well-being in any strategy.


What are the strategies you use to manage your day?


The number one step for leaders to create a thriving organization.


The most important thing that business leaders do is to listen and observe.


What else is not changing?



people, strategy, organization, emotional resilience, wellbeing, employees, talent acquisition, hiring, hierarchy, company, talking, changing, support, design, business

Kim Ford 00:00

Hey everybody, welcome to evolve, where we focus on the evolution of leadership. I'm really excited to have our special guest today, Larraine, do you mind introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about your company and yourself?

Larraine Chang 00:17

Sure. So I'm from Hong Kong. First of all. I'm so glad to have you have me on your show. So, I set up my own company essentially associates around four years ago, where we were set up to tackle the hiring issue from a holistic perspective, because I truly believe that because my background is in pure headhunting, I don't think headhunting it's the only solution anymore to a lot of the hiring issues. We can see a lot of on the ground insights, when do we and we're doing the rework. So I kind of like reverse engineer the whole thing and say, I'm gonna set up my own company and solve this issue from the way back by you know, first of all, doing all this strategy implementation, you know, talent acquisition designed to know at the end, if you still need me to find someone, I'll go find someone for you. So that's in. That's ascension associates in a nutshell.

Kim Ford 01:20

Oh, that's awesome. Well, I think a lot of people are talking about recruiting and kind of the challenges today, what, what are the primary qualities you're looking for in candidates right now?

Larraine Chang 01:31

There are three things that I will definitely be looking for candidates, especially for the ones that are making a higher level of salary and seniority. Number one is emotional resilience. We've been talking about this for a few years now. But the thing is, in reality, we do see a lot of grown ups, especially grown ups, who are making quite a lot of salary, and not necessarily demonstrating enough emotional resilience. Right? So you know, from my own hiring, in my own company, to me hiring for my own clients. Why do I say emotional resilience is the number one important thing is the leaner Our organization has become, you will find out that actually, the more nitty gritty our workload also become. There are a lot of the times where people are making yes higher salary and a bigger title and, and when really, you know, more power, but it comes with a lot more nitty gritty work as well. So it's not like when they were educated, like 20 years ago, when you make a certain title, when you make it there, you have a team of secretaries and whatever to support you is not gone. So that's where I mentioned the emotional resilience, because it's a very steep learning curve for a lot of these people, especially with a lot of technology automation. And so when these people climb up to certain senior level, they realize, Oh, my God, I just need to roll up my sleeves. It's not just emotional restraint. There's also the ego, it goes hand in hand.

Kim Ford 03:15

Can you give us an example? Or a definition of what that is? I mean, what is emotional resilience?

Larraine Chang 03:23

When they realize that when they got into a new job, it's more nitty gritty, and more rolling up the sleeves than they think.

Kim Ford 03:32

So do their emotions overtake their responsibilities?

Larraine Chang 03:38

Yeah, I'm saying that they have to take a balance. Because sometimes when we play to senior care days, inside a lot of organizations, what we realize is, you know, they have this kind of expectation and impression about the title, and what their career should look like. And so they become, you know, like an adult babies, you know, kind of like throwing things off the cram in a when they realize when it comes to a new job, they realize, Oh, my God, can I need to do this still, I need to kind of like the age or so many people, oh, I am out of the job. And you'll be surprised. And I'm like, remember, no stop acting as if you are like a baby.

Kim Ford 04:15

So I think what you're saying to me is that they don't want to do things that are beneath them at that point. So like, they're so high on their high horse, that the job does entail doing other things, like they're not willing to do what it takes to help everybody they just want that high title and only do those high level things and everything else is below. Okay. And I think I see that mostly, especially in the small to medium sector, because what happens is, they don't you don't have enough depth in the organization. The organization is not large enough to sustain for instance, having a CFO and a controller and a director of finance. So what happens is when you hire that CFO, the CFO still has to do the job of the Comptroller and the director of finance. And for those small to medium size companies, you have to do all three to be in that role. But in the large company, there's three different people. So I think it's like, it's hard to probably weed out, right? Can you do? And are you willing to do everything?

Larraine Chang 05:21

In our cases is also the same for bigger organizations, okay, because in a lot of organizations, they still have to be a lot of coordination roles, especially if you're in a regional setting. And so when certain people go to a certain level, when they reach certain age and the income bracket there be like, No, these are the sort of liaison work and whatever, it's not really for me, and then and there will be like, No, we exactly pay you to do that. Because there's a lot of stakeholder management, and you need a lot of live experience with even a lot of cultural nuances. And that's what we mean by emotional resilience is essentially, when things don't go your way. Can you pick that up? And say, Okay, let me bite the bullet. Let me give it at least six months ago, and be professional and say, okay, is this really something that I cannot take and not align with my career development? Or is this just the beginning for me to kind of buy something in a new job?

Kim Ford 06:16

Yeah, that makes sense. Well, I think a lot of companies right now are struggling in general, with talent acquisition, how does talent acquisition affect business strategies in general?

Larraine Chang 06:27

Oh, my God, you name it, Kim, seriously, everything that we do, I always tell my leaders and my clients, any organization is only as good as the people. So if you cannot get any one good, anyone emotional resilience, and another quality that I will look for kind of like, in line with what we're talking about here is, you know, the learning agility? How can FET entire business be resilient and being able to adapt to all these unexpected changes? And so when we talk about business strategy, I always go back and say, actually, how should we define strategy? Right? It's such a big term, we always talk about it. But what exactly is strategy? Strategy is simply, you know, a coherent set of actions supported by a well crafted structure. So if you're talking about coherence, then you need a coherent team. So what I see from my work, and a lot of the people share with me is that there are a lot of broken links when the talent acquisition design is not being well executed or not well designed in the first place. And so when they go fight the battle, those things are kind of like here and there and broken places. So how could they actually execute a strategy smoothly, right? And then you see all the complaints, the finance is complaining, it complains more ever, but in the very first place, people should sit down together and say, what is it that we are doing in here and hiring the same thing? coherent set of actions? Are we actually having an attractive Employer Branding? Is it attractive enough? We think is attractive, it is attractive in terms of our employees eyes, are our employees are aware of actually who we are the people that we want to hire. Right? So there's a lot of the preparation work in beforehand. But then what I see is there's still a lot of people still approach hiring as in like a firefighting, action or a piece of work, oh, loving, I need to get off my phone call. I'm interviewing someone in terminus, I'm just going to read the CVM. Like, darling, this is not the way to work. It's not the way to get the right talent. If you're interviewing someone Terminus and you're only reading the CV Terminus before, this is not the way that you go about it. Especially you're doing a senior hire.

Kim Ford 08:43

Yeah, yeah. Well, it sounds like I mean, the the execution of strategies in general is, is is always challenging, right? It's challenging, especially from the talent acquisition perspective, what about from the organizational design perspective?

Larraine Chang 09:01

The organizational design perspective is also a key component in it, because what kind of hierarchy are we putting in place? Or are we having no hierarchy, right? Especially these days, all the hybrid work, remote work? And, you know, Airbnb just announced you can forever just work from home or a tiny organization can be a work from home organization, how do you design that, right? And how do you actually support the execution of your actions, which I believe a lot of organizations that ultimate actions, that is to support the goal, which is to make profits and to grow? And so it's that hierarchy is the layers reporting structure, helping you to communicate that goal, especially when you have a remote team? You're having different people working together different languages for a lot of global organizations, especially for the travel industry. How do you do that? Right, we've timezone differences and so You know, a lot of the times when we talking about the traditional structures, right, the hierarchy, the top down the matrix, sometimes what I see from my work is, is the matrix structure to matrix for people to communicate effectively, or is the hierarchy still order structures do very traditional for people to have the psychological safety, to test out new products, right, your business strategy is to pivot is to kind of like see what the market tells you what your, what your next product is like, or how the customer feedback is like for a new product. It's the organizational structure designed in a way that allows the feedback to be communicated effectively and efficiently to the back end, as well.

Kim Ford 10:45

And and when you're developing a strategy, how do you maintain a balance with focus?

Larraine Chang 10:57

I would always say right now to have the element of well-being in it. Why I'm saying so it's because, of course, any strategy for us is to, like I said, right, to make profit, to grow, to get into another market to be a new product, whatever that is. But how are we balancing our organizational ie the employees well-being while we're doing it, because sometimes what we have been hearing in different parts of the world, is that when one company is so focused in achieving certain market shares, and an end growth, certain, you know, like stakeholders return whatever you call it, they kind of like put the organizational well-being at the backburner, or in the lowest priority. And what happens is you have a lot of attrition rate, you have a lot of people calling sick, you have a lot of people complaining on different websites, saying that is a toxic culture. You know, there are a lot of employees, you always got, like, you know, brain fog and getting not really well, in what they do. They're not having enough support with audit remote work. And so it goes back to the design of the execution of strategy. So if your employees are sick, how can you make the entire team coherent, to carry out the coherent set of actions? Right? Yeah.

So that balance in focus is, are we taking care of employees in terms of our own health? Because I don't know about other people. I'm only 35. But I can feel the fact that I can no longer work as hard as I was 25. Right now I can share with people that I manage my day right now, by actually, this metric surprise, you came by my eyes well-being. What things is that because right now, for a lot of our work, we're doing a lot of remote team meetings, right? So we're doing a lot of zoom work and teams work.

So what we're going to do is basically having our eyes staring at the screen longer than we expected, that only when we were in high school, we don't need to scare our students like, like this long. So what I've been struggling for over the last two years, because of COVID is the fact that my eyes got fatigue, and got issues, way more often than before COVID Because of all these long hours of zooms, meeting, and proposal work and whatever. And so right now, I structure my day, how do I, for example, take my company's internal balance in focus while I was executing my strategy is I structure my day, according to how long my eyes can stand staring at the screen. So let's get rid of bricks, as scheduled as refers.

Kim Ford 13:49

That's wonderful. You know, the strategies I use is I use obviously a calendar, you know, where people can just schedule and I actually put a maximum on every day. So yeah, Islander reads that I will only accept so many meetings a day. And I've tried, I continue to work on this, I tried to get in the habit even to block my day when it starts to get full even outside of that. Because the problem is you just don't have enough time in one day to make it all work. So then you feel like everything's jammed together. And it's overwhelming. And so I think it's hard to teach that I've spent a lot of time teaching our team blocking and trying to use the concept of blocking you know, big groups at time, you know, with even circles just Hey, make this time you know, like you mentioned writing proposals. Make this time, prospecting, make this time client work, because then you don't feel so overwhelmed, but it's it's tough. I mean, I love the concept of well-being. Do you have any other ideas for business leaders right now? On what to do kind of about wellbeing? I think everybody hears the word. But besides asking somebody, how are you feeling? They don't know what else to do.

Larraine Chang 14:59

Yeah, I hear You, I hear you. It's like a lot of the people who's getting started, at least they're aware of it, but they're not doing enough. I think the number one step for any leaders out there to create a thriving organization is to move beyond just another yoga session or another test for your employee. But to really get together to actually embed this time of like what you said, you know, time boxing time management, with that well-being in mind, so that you can actually create what we call level three, the ultimate goal of creating a thriving organization is because everything that we do besides just to think about how much profit we're going to make, we're going to actually think about and actually encourage our staff like what you said, Kim, I think is wonderful, is, you know, timeboxing your day, by reminding yourself, this sister time maximum that your body can stay paying attention to something and your eyes can stay that focus on your screen. And then after that, you're going to take a break, go for a walk over drink, go for your early lunch break, go do some yoga, during your lunch, break, whatever and then come back and refresh yourself. I think this is a very important commitment is that the leaders themselves they have to walk the talk like you I mean, right, you block your day, you're showing yourself that you're blocking a day. And then you're also encouraging yourself to time box a day to sauna. So you know what, I want you to be productive as ever. But I also don't want you to be burnt out as well. Yeah, this is the level two, before we get to the level three, which is a lot of more, a lot more work.

Kim Ford 16:44

I love it. And I you know, I think a lot of people have to, in many way understand challenges kind of below the surface level. What are some elements, important elements to to use for that?

Larraine Chang 17:01

The number one thing that I use, and I also work with my clients to do is, don't just rely everything that you read or hear on the news,

Kim Ford 17:12

yet such great advice. It's so true, because today ends on the source. And you know, it's so funny, I have a crazy mom and my mom, I will get these random tests throughout the day. And she still doesn't understand that I have to work. But it'll be from this source called, like, zy Q dot XYZ. And she's like, look what's going on. And I'm like, Mom, you need to look at your source of that information is like you need to calm down, it's okay, the world is not going to explode. And, you know, it gets exhausting. But it's so true. Because you know, so many things, you know, the source of the information, a lot of times it's skewed to whether that's making that person look great, that company look great, that toothpaste look great. Right? Whatever the case may be, it's really challenging, and it causes a lot of problems.

Larraine Chang 18:05

Yeah. After not relying on just what we see in here on the news, I think the most important thing that we do is to listen and observe. Yeah, you got to have your own perspective. And together with your, you know, you just mentioned the same, you know, the time boxing strategy, you know, the well-being in mind. It sounds like you know, we're talking something very simple, like your mother's a woman, but actually, it's not, it takes a lot of time for us to practice, especially, you know, we've been crammed into, you know, the more cram your day is, the more back to back meetings and more productive you are the kind of old world when we start to kind of like, pace ourselves and listen to you observe, we as leaders are creating a space between ourselves and the rest. So that you create the kind of perspective that keep things in perspective that we need. Yeah, so that we know we can generate our own insights and not push ourselves and the others into crazy world.

Kim Ford 19:07

Yeah, so true. Oh, my gosh. It's, it's it's very interesting out there. You know, CEOs are really struggling. You know, we hope we're on the other side of the pandemic. Nobody knows what the future looks like. Obviously, it caught us off guard. Do you have any advice for business leaders today is they kind of navigate what's next.

Larraine Chang 19:31

It is counterintuitive when what you just said? Because you just said it's kind of like very reputable? Yeah. But I was thinking that the number one piece of advice that I would actually give a lot of my peers is we have to see the whole picture and manage our business and ourselves by design, not by default. What I mean is, see the whole picture is to kind of at all We were just just sat into the Listen, observe the space, generally what else is going on? What else is not changing? This is interesting because right? We always say, what's the coming trend? What is changing? What's the next vegan food? What's the next whatever know what is not changing? What is not changing? Y I know that I caught you a little bit like who was lying talking about the I well-being bit, I actually caught my own coach. by surprise when I say this, we can actually learn to get metaphor in here and and share with people, we can go to the fitness trainers, and have our course trained so that we can hold the plank for two more minutes, three minutes, right? That we cannot train our eye muscles to hold longer staring at the screen without getting fatigued. And when I visited the eye doctors more frequently for last few years. That's why I realized oh my goodness, this is my aha moment.

That's why I timebox my day and say, if the doctors are saying that, you know after during the Screenvision amount of time, if you take a break, I should time box my day according to my eyes being because I cannot train my eye muscle to stare at a screen for longer. It's not like my core, I can show my blank exactly what my eyes are not our blank. Number one. So this is actually part of the see the whole picture thing, right? What is not changing, for example, our eye muscles are not changing, we cannot change them. The other thing by image by the sign is the fact that if we take this whole well-being element, this whole person element of what has also been what is not changing mindset into here. A lot of the times you didn't know that there are a lot, a lot more unpredictability and uncertainty. And forker is the O word by now the new word apparently spanning I don't know whether you've heard of it. Ritual, anxious, nonlinear, incomprehensible. But I think you know, it's actually pretty bad managed by design, not by default. Now what I mean is, there are certain things that you can put in place to make your days more manageable to make your processes more manageable. So that even though that you have nonlinear and just incomprehensible accidents happening around the world, you have the energy the resource to manage it. You're not managing by default manager by default, meaning you're responding to it. Now, I mean, you're reacting to it. Right? What we're advocating is you have the space to respond and the energy and the muscle to respond to.

Kim Ford 22:39

Yeah, exactly. Or you could do playing salons, right. Work at all together. Oh, well. Our goal with Evolve is to enable business leaders to learn, connect and grow together and the rain. Thank you so much for talking to us for sharing some of your day with us and your lot of amazing insights. And everybody please follow us on social media and continue and stay tuned as our series evolves with you.

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