Crisis-Proofing Your Talent Process

Recruiting, Hiring and Managing Teams During a Pandemic or Large-scale Adversity

The global COVID pandemic and worldwide lockdowns have created unprecedented challenges for healthcare hiring managers, administrators, and executives, especially those in need of recruiting new executive and academic talent.

Steve Marsh, CEO of M3 Executive Search, recently presented several tips and guidelines for healthcare organizations to effectively manage and grow their teams during a global crisis such as a pandemic. Mr. Marsh draws from decades of experience recruiting physicians for healthcare clients, as well as building his own search teams, and, most recently, as the founder of M3 Executive Search. Below are his observations of the challenges faced by leaders during these extraordinarily difficult and uncertain times, as well as some of the potential solutions.

Maintain momentum
In a crisis, Marsh states that organizations typically respond in one of three ways:

  • a) Freeze - all forward momentum freezes and the organization ceases to move forward with hiring at all.
  • b) Inertia - this is similar to freeze mode, but less intentional - the confusion and uncertainty causes the organization to slow down considerably as they try to navigate new and unusual circumstances created by a major crisis.
  • c) Mission-critical hiring - continue to assertively hire for mission critical positions, taking advantage of the available talent on the active market during a trying time.


Which response is the most effective? The organizations who can keep moving forward during a crisis are the ones who come out ahead in recruiting, Marsh says. The organizations that remain frozen or halt hiring operations miss out on the qualified candidates available at a time when there is often much less recruiting competition.

In a crisis, companies must be prepared to adapt and pivot while still moving forward. Recruiting during a crisis may be different than before the crisis, but recruiting can still be successful and effective during challenging times. For example, during the stay-at-home orders, many job interviews are now occurring via online apps like Zoom, Go-to Meeting, or Skype, in order to abide by social distancing rules and travel regulations.

Marsh adds that the majority of his team's placements involve a potential relocation, and therefore community tours are a key component of the hiring process. In today's pandemic-induced environment, however, on-site community tours are now being conducted virtually. "There are many novel approaches that are being born out of this pandemic," Marsh notes. "Our clients are relying heavily on video-conferencing, for example, and even on the clinical side, telemedicine is on the rise too, due to social distancing restrictions." Traditionally, many recruiting clients will send a gift basket to the candidate's hotel upon their arrival to the community for their interview. "Now, our clients will send the gift basket to the candidate's home, instead," he says.

Lean into Core Values

"Now more than ever, it's imperative that companies really lean into their core values and help their associates feel reassured that everything will be okay," Marsh explains. During a crisis, employees at all levels will worry how they will be impacted. If your team members are overwhelmed with fear or worry about 'what will happen to me?' it is difficult for them to be productive in their role and achieve company objectives.

Marsh adds that core values are important all the time, even when things are going well, and therefore they are crucial to the organization's survival during a crisis.

Communication - Manage Expectations

Effective corporate communication is another strategy that is important always and becomes more vital during crisis mode. Communication is paramount for outlining any process changes that will undoubtedly arise due to the crisis at hand, and calming fears during uncertain times.

"Managing expectations is tough but key to helping to minimize any trepidation your team may be experiencing." Marsh says. "Leadership plays a particularly important role in keeping their teams informed, answering questions, being available for conversations, and just helping their team members to stay motivated and roll with the punches during a stressful time."

Keeping leadership and operational rhythms as normal and consistent as possible in times of change or transition is another way to help keep motivation and morale up during a crisis, Marsh adds. "Most people like structure in general, which is why maintaining structure and organization across all departments is beneficial to the productivity of the organization."

Communication Tips:

  • Pay Attention - to cues and signals and messages from team members.
  • Share a Positive Message - believe in what you are doing.
  • Focus - Stay focused on communicating the strategies for overcoming obstacles.


To connect with Steve Marsh and/or his team to inquire about healthcare executive recruitment consulting, contact us today. Additionally, Steve is available to present a variety of leadership topics to your team or for an event, remotely, or onsite if appropriate.