Leadership During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Dan Charney, President & CEO at DRI Shares Thoughts

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging and new experience for organizations across the globe. Leadership is being tasked with finding the appropriate ways to handle this crisis from a business operations perspective, in addition to keeping employees safe, healthy and engaged. Dan Charney, President & CEO at Direct Recruiters shares helpful insights on leadership, the recruiting industry, and keeping employees happy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is DRI pivoting at all during this pandemic and is there any initiatives you would like to share about what your firm is doing?

This pandemic is very different from other crises or downturns we have experienced in our 37 years in business.  The fundamentals of the economy up until early March were still solid and our firm was stringing together record month after record month. Our leadership team had our eyes on what was happening in China, but there was no real game plan in place for how a search firm is supposed to operate during a crisis of this magnitude. Thankfully, we have positioned our firm over the years to not only withstand a downturn in business, but sometimes thrive because we are so diverse in the vertical markets and functional areas we service. We are very proud to service many industries that concentrate in food, manufacturing, healthcare as well as public safety and security. While we anticipate more bad news to trickle in over the next several months, we feel these industries will continue to be bedrocks for us. The area we have had to pivot in more now than in other crises is quickly redesigning the interview process and getting both candidates and clients comfortable making major career decisions via virtual interviews because of lack of travel or non-essential businesses being closed all together. In order for our firm to be successful right now, we must work closely with our clients and candidates on creative ways to conduct interviews and eventually successfully onboard new employees.

How are you keeping your employees and teams engaged and motivated?

We have a tremendous operations team at DRI that has built up a first class infrastructure. As a result, we had a relatively seamless transition to becoming a remote workforce very quickly. Our team of recruiters by nature are an extremely motivated and aggressive group and that has not changed. Because we are a team of teams, we rely heavily on our Partners and Practice Leaders to motivate their individual teams. While we do miss the camaraderie that comes from working together in our offices, we have, like most firms, taken advantage of tools like Zoom for daily meetings and weekly Happy Hours. DRI runs daily on a very specific and process-driven operating system so that also does not change. Meetings start and end at the same time they always have but obviously they are also conducted virtually. The most important thing right now for our employees is to stay healthy both physically and mentally. After that, we are encouraging everyone to celebrate our little wins. Search is a results-driven business and there are often many steps in the process that get overlooked. In these difficult times we need to be thankful for every opportunity to help the people we encounter reach their personal, professional and organizational goals.

What message would you like to share with DRI’s clients and candidates?

The same message that I have shared with our internal team.

When this crisis passes there will be a story about every single one of us. Ask yourself, what do you want written about yourself? Not just professionally but personally as well.

We are here to listen to our business partners right now more than ever.

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