liz citronAfter a 25-year digital career helping a wide variety of organisations create easy to use tools and services, Liz Citron now supports people in the industry to navigate their careers and discover what is holding them back, so that they can survive and thrive in the world of work.
Liz brings in-depth experience delivering in a variety of roles: as a UX Mentor (training teams to become more user-centred), as an Interaction Designer, a User Researcher, a Service Designer and as a Digital Strategist.
Liz spoke to Futureheads as part of our FFS series, a regular interview series where business and industry leaders share their insights and personal experience. Other articles in the series can be found here.

Tell us about the impact that Covid-19 and the lockdown measures have had on your business?

As a career/leadership coach, I work either 1-2-1 with my clients or in small groups. Its been really easy to move all of this online using tools like Skype and Zoom. The biggest impact has been on the talks I have given or attended. That has not translated well to the virtual world yet, as far as I have seen. As a speaker, it’s hard to judge the mood of the room and the natural flow of conversation and connection that happens at talks and conferences just doesn’t happen now. Its sort of happening on Twitter and there are the breakout rooms in Zoom, but somehow the magic – the energy, the serendipity, the flow of ideas – is getting lost. And I think, long term, we will start noticing the impact of the lack of spontaneous conversation and its contribution in work and in life.

How have you adapted your operational and hiring practices?

While as a tiny business, I’m not hiring people at the moment, I do have introductory calls with clients, called chemistry sessions, where we interview each other, to see if we would work together well. I used to do these in person a lot of the time and now it has to be 100% virtual. Depending on the quality of the call, I think technology supports this quite well.

What has changed a lot is the tools and techniques I use because many of them were designed to work in a physical space. I have found ways to adapt many of them to work virtually, but some have had to be mothballed until healthier times. Coaching is a very creative, “dancing in the moment” approach and COVID has just enhanced that.

What are your top tips for successfully managing a remote recruitment process?

My tip for this is that you can’t be too organised or too user-centric. People want to be treated respectfully and if you haven’t got a way to track exactly where they are in the process, what they’ve been told and what they haven’t, the curtain will slip and they will know that you aren’t taking them seriously. You will make mistakes but as long as you only do it only once, and change the process, you are likely to be forgiven.

Has this crisis made you look at your business differently or consider changes moving forwards?

I think it’s hard to experience lockdown and come out unchanged. I am delighted that we have all moved to working virtually. There is a lot about travel that isn’t pleasant and damages our planet, so the less we do, the better. What I have noticed is that the lockdown has highlighted to people the relationship they have with work, and how important that is. My plan is to support businesses and individuals to explore and acknowledge this more. Format TBC.

What advice would you give to anyone in a similar position to you at the moment?

This too will pass. And when it does, human behaviour and societal needs will not have changed. Humans adapt but our needs are enduring. We will always need food, water, shelter, sleep, connection with others and novelty/stimulation. And there will always be jobs for people who can satisfy those needs directly or indirectly.

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