91% of CEOs Say They Need Outside Help with Talent Optimization

The coronavirus has put an unprecedented strain on executives and their staff, according to the latest CEO Benchmarking Report of The Predictive Index. It measures behavioral drives (Dominance, Extraversion, Patience and Formality) as well as cognitive ability.

But the study also offers an opportunity and challenge for global mobility managers. Just in terms of talent, 91% of CEOs think that they need outside help with talent optimization. 

Companies need to address the long-term mentorship and development of their professionals. Teams that can overcome the stress and grow closer in spite of it will be all the stronger, according to Allison Siminovsky, Ph.D. director of People Science at The Predictive Index. 

This is just one of many challenges presented in the study. For most CEOs, the most challenging task is how they can help remote teams work well together. In fact, it was the most popular response by a wide margin. 

The second-most popular response was finding the right talent. Compounding their sleepless nights? Employee performance and productivity. About 36% stated it was of high concern.

Also, a whopping 96% of respondents in the study said that they changed direction due to the pandemic, with 50% indicating their strategy shifted to a “great” extent. This is the extent of the companies’ strategic shift in direction since March 2020. 

This also puts a strain on many employees. If 56% of CEOs say employee performance is a top concern, that means it’s not exactly happy with their employees now. But if that’s not bad enough, 48% of CEOs say they’ve lost sleep over how the virus is impacting their business.

A similar issue to how workers work together, CEOs that lead remote teams reportedly doubt their team’s ability to hit strategic goals. As remote work disrupts employee work, it’s also eroding the confidence CEOs have on their teams to get the work done. 

Are CEOs worrying too much for their own good? They believe remote work is amplifying the lack of cohesion. And following such a drastic short notice, senior teams are still acclimating to the current world of perpetual Slack messaging and Zoom meetings.

Interpersonal struggles

If this worry is all smoke, 36% of CEOs think they’re worth looking into, because they stem from people problems — or interpersonal struggles — of their staff. When cohesion is an issue, conflict isn’t far behind. Infighting within teams aren’t business issues anymore, they’re “people ones.” So when tackling this problem, it’s vital to take a people-first approach.

Are the worries of CEOs justified, when they claim that most of their precious time is spent on mediating people issues. Are these happening more now, because everyone is stressed out by the pandemic? It seems CEOs and employees are struggling to cope with the challenges in their work, not when companies expect the same results they were getting pre-coronavirus.

If that’s the case, CEOs and employees must see to it that they can handle these challenges. This could entail overhauling business strategies, from supply chain disruptions to evolved buyer cycles. As said in the study, COVID-19 didn’t just alter the landscape, it redefined it. And CEOs adapted to it as much as HR and their staff did.

Strategy development is priority

To offset these challenges now that companies have generally stabilized a bit, most CEOs say strategy development is their No. 1 priority followed by operational execution. In the study, it was noted though that employees were not clear on strategy. 

There is a lot of work ahead for CEOs and their employees. They know people are vital to a business’ success, although they need objective people data, such as cognitive ability and behavioral fit to be able to extend their help. 

Leveraging data points can help leaders build good teams that are cohesive, trusting and internationally designed to tackle the work at hand. 

While CEOs worry about the interpersonal struggles of their employees, 66% of them say their leadership teams promote a culture of long-term affiliation. But they must know also that people are the most powerful asset to their business. 

Even more important perhaps, many companies and employees need to understand that everyone is struggling. Showing empathy is hard when businesses are losing money, but sometimes it’s the best way to manage the challenges ahead. (Dennis Clemente)