Why Talent Optimization Is Crucial for Managing Through a Crisis


As the COVID-19 pandemic changes everyday life and presents historic challenges to companies of all sizes, it may seem a strange time to think about talent optimization. After all, many organizations are in survival mode, layoffs and furloughs are commonplace, and the steep economic downturn is still unfolding.

So it’s surprising that now is actually the most important time to think about talent optimization. That's because great organizational optimization, backed by excellent leadership, will determine not only which companies survive (and even thrive in) this crisis, but which ones are poised for even greater success when the downturn ends.

What Is Talent Optimization?

According to the leading experts on the subject, The Predictive Index, "talent optimization is a discipline for designing and executing a talent strategy that’s aligned with your business strategy."

Using quantitative "people data" and analytics, talent optimization helps decision-makers predict outcomes and make informed decisions related to an organization's talent.

Why Talent Optimization Matters

Leaders are not just concerned about getting through this crisis — they want to ensure the long-term success of their enterprise. Talent optimization is about setting up your organization for success by setting up all of your people for success.

Talent optimization starts with a strong company culture, and as companies and employees are under tremendous stress, culture is a vital binder that keeps employees focused on the right objectives. Unfortunately, during a crisis, culture often gets forgotten.

A Harvard Business Review survey showed that 9% of businesses flourished following a downturn. What separates the survivors and flourishers? Resilience and agility. No company was fully prepared for such a disruptive pandemic, but great companies are dynamic, thanks to a clear vision and strong company culture that’s implemented by the right talent in the right places. 

What You Can Do Now

Leaders can take many steps to protect and enhance culture in challenging times. It’s especially important to reassure and inspire employees during this crisis. Keeping your employees engaged right now is crucial, as there are many distractions and outside stressors.

Leaders should be communicating more than usual with employees right now because remote work makes employee engagement and culture vital. By leveraging video or web conferencing tools, you can make messages and meetings as personal as possible. When engaging employees, remember that empathy is critical. Know that they are concerned about many things both at work and in their personal lives, so be genuine, truthful, and transparent. Building trust is key. Employees may see job losses as a breach of trust, so re-establishing trust will be important moving forward.

Good leaders can protect their organizational culture and build for the future by taking some simple steps:

  • Don’t assume your company culture is safe just because it was prior to the crisis. Layoffs, furloughs, and even the threat of job loss all have repercussions. Some employees may have seen friends let go or noticed a dramatic decline in business and many will be worried about their own future. Address these concerns directly.
  • Be optimistic but not dishonest. You need to have hope and a vision for a post-crisis future, so remain optimistic, even while making tough decisions. This crisis will end, and you and your team will be ready.
  • Maintain close ties even as people are working from home. Over communicate, and check in on employees frequently. Have regular meetings and use video liberally—seeing faces and watching body language allows you to address issues, express empathy, and enhance credibility.
  • Ask employees for their thoughts through an employee engagement survey—then act on those findings. Surveys are meaningless if corresponding actions do not follow them.
  • Engage in team-building exercises like a virtual lunch, Friday Zoom happy hour, or Throwback Thursday, during which employees share something personal. This helps remind people that they’re not alone, provides some stress relief, and inspires engagement.

Building a Foundation of Trust

Building trust with your employees allows great things to happen within your organization. That’s because trust allows for exceptional results. This is illustrated perfectly by the Lencioni Trust Pyramid.


Management consultant Patrick Lencioni created both of these pyramids to illustrate how trust allows teams and companies to thrive, while the lack of trust causes inevitable dysfunction. Trusting employees will voice their opinions by way of constructive conflict and feel deeply committed to delivering results.

Make no mistake— he COVID-19 pandemic has affected your culture and challenged core values. But strong, honest, and engaged leadership can make all the difference.

Help Is Available

If you’re wondering where to start, worried about your culture, or want to know more about how talent optimization can dramatically move the needle for your company, it’s easy to get started by relying on a professional. 

All of the best-performing companies in the world work with talent optimization experts. They use highly effective techniques to objectively evaluate behavioral and cognitive skills to accurately predict performance. Ensuring you’re getting the right people in the right seats starts with setting up the entire organization for success.

 Prepare Now

It’s hard to imagine right now, but this crisis will pass, and as we return to the new “normal,” many companies will want to rethink talent and culture. There will be a lot of talent available. Put the systems and strategies in place now to get the best people in the right positions to allow your company to thrive.

To learn more about how to talent optimization can help you work through this crisis, read the free guide, Surviving an Economic Downturn With Talent Optimization, from The Predictive Index. Or, reach out and contact us today.

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