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Hunt Scanlon Features Matt Shore in their 2020 State of the Industry Study Part II
Excerpt from the Forecast & Recovery Strategies for 2021 article by Hunt Scanlon Media
Many search firms, in the meantime, are struggling. There have of course been pay cuts, layoffs, furloughs, and a shifting of resources from the parts of their business that are lagging to those that are faring better, in order to save jobs. Even the firms that are faring well, however, have faced tremendous challenges in pivoting to a greater dependence on technology and managing their people, who have been under both personal and professional duress. For many firms, the last nine months have been the ultimate test of leadership.
StevenDouglas, a national boutique search and interim resources firm in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is in large part typical of how many of the best search firms have met the crisis. “From my experience, the three most important leadership qualities in leading through any type of adversity are compassion, exceptional communication skills and the ability to inspire people,” says Matt Shore, the firm’s president. “Given the adversity that we all faced and continue to face during the global pandemic, our executive team shifted from monthly meetings to weekly meetings with the focus on how we could make a difference for our team. We all recognized early on that we had to be compassionate and empathetic to everyone’s concerns and fears and that a strategy of over-communicating and making people feel safe was going to be very important if we wanted to keep everyone focused on what they could control.”
“We took the position of having a company-wide town hall meeting via Zoom every Monday and we reiterated over and over again that we were not going to overreact like many firms were doing and we were committed to each and every person on the team,” says Mr. Shore. “We assured our employees that their jobs were safe and that as long as they were willing to put in the effort and take the right actions to try their best to keep their individual practices moving in a positive direction, we would not make any job cuts.”
Steven Douglas’ team responded in kind and no one at the firm has lost their job because of the pandemic. The firm, in fact, has incrementally hired new talent, showing its commitment to the future beyond the moment. In the first two months of the pandemic, Mr. Shore wrote a meaningful message every morning to the staff (over 60 daily messages), in an effort to keep their confidence up, to share ideas of what’s working for some of their peers in the firm, and to remind them of some of the positive actions they can take to make the best of the situation.
“Our CEO, myself and the rest of the executive team made it a practice to personally schedule multiple Zoom calls a day to individual employees around the country to listen to them and let them know they were important to us,” says Mr. Shore. “We offered words of encouragement but more importantly did a lot of listening. In a strange way, the pandemic brought us all closer together because of some of these practices and I know that our employees will not soon forget how they were treated during this global crisis. In the end, our business has rebounded incredibly well and we have had a few record weeks in a row, and our team is dialed in and focused on winning every day.”