COVID-19 Pulse Survey Reveals Boards Have Confidence in Management

NACD this week polled nearly 200 members to better understand how directors and their boards are responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. While the economic, social, and political impacts remain in flux—evidenced in one dimension by the S&P 500 declines and gains of nearly 10 percent last week—corporate boards are in a unique position to help management respond effectively to the short- and long-term implications of the crisis.

Director responses to the pulse survey reflect the early actions boards are taking to combat the crisis, and their responses may have shifted in the time since. NACD’s Resource Center: Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis can help directors govern more effectively through these uncertain times. And NACD’s March 2020 poll reveals how boards have been doing so in real-time over the last week. Several findings stand out:

Boards are proactively engaging with management to address the COVID-19 response.

Nearly 3 of 4 directors (76%) report that their boards have discussed COVID-19 with management. In such times, board collaboration with management is likely to be less hierarchical, more frequent, and can blur traditional lines of demarcation between board and management activities. Many respondents report that they have already taken a serious look at what management has done to prepare their staff and position the organization for a very different operating reality. About half (49%) report that they have reviewed internal corporate communications strategies and slightly fewer (42%) have worked to establish expectations for board/management communications. Further, only 45 percent of boards are pressure testing management assumptions about the business impact of the virus.

Source: NACD March 2020 COVID-19 Pulse SurveyOrganizations are putting their people first.

The majority of directors responding report that their organizations are currently focused on the health and well-being of their employee population. Many companies have started to rigorously assess the impact of employee and business exposure to the virus (74%). Most have reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for employers (64%) and developed internal communications strategies (66%) to keep employees up to date on evolving plans. Further, in their next board meetings, two thirds (67%) of directors indicate that they intend to evaluate the effectiveness of management plans to protect the health and welfare of the employee population.

Source: NACD March 2020 COVID-19 Pulse SurveyDirectors are comfortable with the effectiveness of management’s crisis response at this moment.

Directors generally give their organizations high marks for their initial crisis response and collaboration with the board. Seventy-four percent report that their board gets sufficient information from management and 71 percent find management’s response so far to be effective. In general, directors report confidence in the ability of management to handle the near-term effects of the crisis and are satisfied with what they see.

Many anticipate a short-term business impact.

As of March 16, about a third of S&P 500 companies had disclosed COVID-19 in their risk factors (30%) and earnings calls (33%), according to MyLogIQ, a public company disclosure information aggregator. Numbers are similar for the Russell 3000, where risk-factor mentions jumped from 29 percent to 39 percent between March 12 and 16, per MyLogIQ. In the NACD poll, most directors saw the largest likely disruption in the demand for their products (28%) followed by employee productivity (19%), and impacts to their supply chain (16%) and the capital markets (14%).

Source: MyLogIQ (based on keyword search “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” in public filings from 03/12/2019 to 03/16/2020)At the moment, few have turned toward the longer-term implications of the crisis.

While much of what is described above displays director’s confidence in the near term, few have looked toward the longer-term implications of the crisis. Somewhat surprisingly, just 14 percent report reviewing risk-transfer options management might have at their disposal, such as insurance coverage on property, supply chains, or business continuity. Just 13 percent report making a decision to postpone a major 2020 investment. Further, only 16 percent report discussing post-crisis plans with management. 

At this early stage in the crisis, NACD’s director
members report having initiated conversations with management that revolve
around the following types of questions:

What
are the trigger points for incremental policy actions (to protect employees)
and financial actions (to respond to declining product or service demand,
material, or labor availability)?If
we had to close the books for the first quarter remotely and issue results,
could we do it, and could our auditors perform the necessary procedures
remotely?What
are alternative sources of supply for the materials/goods we use? How quickly
can an alternative supply source be deployed and at what change in costs? What
does this mean for our budget?How
do we address or mitigate key risks locally, and, if appropriate, abroad?This quick poll shows that boards have confidence in
management to support their employee populations and deal with the early stages
of the crisis.

NACD will continue to gauge the pulse of its membership as the crisis evolves and becomes more complex to understand the changing governance challenges faced by members and help to identify potential solutions. This includes virtual board and annual meeting management and planning both for potential recession and recovery.

NACD’s March 2020 COVID-19 Pulse Survey results were featured in a Wall Street Journal article on March 18, 2020.

COVID-19. Uncertainty. Fear. Recession. Fiduciary Duties.It’s essential that directors know what to focus on and when.

Become an NACD member today.

NACD: Tools and resources to help guide you in unpredictable times.

6 Best Practices for Virtual Meetings

As we rapidly transition our teams to a virtual way of conducting business, adopting new technology is not a luxury, but a necessity. It’s important to know how to put our best foot forward when navigating the world of virtual meetings.
We’ve put together 6 best practices that will help you adapt to this new form of communication. These tips will help serve you in preparation for client, team, and other meetings you may attend now and in the future.
 Be aware of your background.
If you’re not used to working in a remote environment, you may not realize that what’s behind you really matters. There may be things in your background that are distracting. This is especially important when you’re in a main room of your house with partners, kids, and pets walking around behind you.
We suggest you try to minimize distraction by setting up in a room that’s out of the way, has a door to reduce noise, and does not have a lot of traffic.
You can also make use of a virtual background if your meeting application has that capability. Create an image that is branded with your company logo and display it behind you. This will take away any distractions in the background and allow your meeting to stay professional and on topic.
 Camera height and positioning.
It may be tempting to set up your laptop or webcam on any surface when preparing for your next meeting. If you’re not careful, this could impact the impression you have on a client or meeting attendee. It’s important to check the camera angle whenever you change locations for a virtual meeting.
If your camera is set too high, above eye level, it will give the illusion that people are looking down at you. If your camera is set too low, along with being a very unflattering angle, it could make an attendee feel that you are talking down to them. This has the potential to unintentionally change the mood and feel of a meeting.
To combat this, always make sure to set the camera at eye level. This will ensure you are sitting on an even plane with whoever you’re meeting with and will put them at ease through the conversation.
Minimize background noise.
Now, this is a tricky one, especially if you currently have a household full of kids or others who will no doubt make some noise at an inopportune time. If you can, make sure to situate yourself in a quiet place within your home, preferably a room that has a door to buffer any outside noise. You can also use headphones that have a built-in microphone. Typically, these microphones will pick up your voice only and reduce anything a laptop speaker may pick up easily.
Another way to ensure that you’re not disrupting the call with any outside noise is to mute your microphone. This can be done directly through the meeting platform or your headphones may have a mute button. This will help keep the call on-topic and not distract speakers.
You also should be mindful that currently, people may have background noise they normally wouldn’t have. It’s important to have grace for those you’re meeting with and realize that some things may not be in their control in this climate.
Lighting.
Adjusting the lighting for a virtual meeting can be difficult. It can be frustrating when you’re trying to put your best foot forward and just cannot get the lighting to cooperate. The best practice is to set up so that you have a room with bright windows and a wall behind you.
You may not have access to perfect lighting, so there are a couple of tricks to getting it just right.  If there is a window behind you, make sure you also have light behind the webcam and in front of you. This will help balance the “halo effect” that can happen with a bright light behind you. You also don’t want too bright of light in front of you. This could wash out your skin and your facial features.
Always have a backup.
When using any type of technology, it’s good to have a backup option. Due to an overwhelming number of companies transitioning to online platforms, there may be a breakdown in quality. It’s recommended that you have a second meeting app to switch to if your primary one is not functioning properly.
Keep this in mind for hardware as well. By this, we mean your headphones or the actual device you’re using to connect to the call. Most platforms have an app that can be used on your smartphone or tablet. Make sure to download the app and login, so that you’re able to start or continue a call if your laptop or desktop computer is not functioning correctly.
Don’t forget that people can see you!
Always assume that you’re on camera and that you are unmuted. Everyone’s heard of the one person on a large call that forgets they’re in front of the camera and decides to pick their nose, make a face, doze off… you name it. This applies even if you believe your camera and microphone are off.
To keep from making any mistakes, try your best to be engaged, take notes, and ask questions. This will let the presenter know that you care about their topic, but it will also keep you engaged and out of trouble.
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Supporting Individuals Impacted by COVID-19

Within CPI’s Global footprint, we’ve seen firsthand the varied and unique impact of COVID-19.  If you find yourself unemployed due to COVID-19 and have no professional transition assistance, we can help.  Through our page Immediate Individual Help page, we are sharing important information and immediate actions you can take to prepare you to move on to your next role.  Know that you are not alone and that many others are currently in a similar situation.  This is a temporary setback.  Our Members around the world are here to help individuals and organizations move forward into the future of work.
 
For organizations seeking broader support across the employee lifecycle, visit our home page CPIworld.com for more information.
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The Leading Advantage – Leadership Coaching to Propel Success

Launching today is The Leading Advantage, a Career Partners International podcast.  Throughout the series, we will be exploring case studies, hot topics, and best practices in leadership development and executive coaching.
Bill Harmon, of Promark, A CPI Firm, joins us on the inaugural episode of The Leading Advantage to discuss a succession planning based coaching engagement for a 3rd generation family business.  This unique case study highlights the benefits of a long-term engagement and how a trusted coach can help a strong individual contributor transition into and cement themselves as a leader within the organization.
Available on Spotify
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Our Shared Focus

CPI Focused On Wellbeing And Care For Your People
Populations around the world are experiencing and responding to the impact of COVID-19 in many different ways. At Career Partners International we are ensuring our people and systems are protected and performing, so your people can be served as you expect. We are uniquely positioned to provide local response and service through a globally consistent framework. Our Headquarters Operations, Members, and Technical Solutions partners all benefit from being geographically distributed and remote. This structure enables us to shift resource needs and services seamlessly around the world. Each Member and Service partner is implementing procedures for: visitors, travel, and work from home access; facilities hygiene practices; operational backup and redundancy plans; and communication and coverage systems all at a scope and scale in line with the degree of impact in their area.
Beyond our ability to provide continuity of care to your people participating in our programs, you may have questions related to the stability of our technical infrastructure at the center of continued delivery performance in the face of a Pandemic. Our Business Continuity Plan is kept current and related staff training is up to date. Business Continuity at CPI includes preparations to help assure the viability and reliability of CPI internal infrastructure in the face of a major crisis, including Pandemics and Epidemics.
We recognize issues created by COVID-19 add stress and complication to the already complex world in which we all work. CPI is here and uniquely able to help, and wish you and your people throughout the world continued success and good health.
-Bill Kellner, President & CEO of Career Partners International
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Seven Things to Consider Before Taking the Leap

In last month’s career goals survey by Greene and Associates Inc., a CPI Firm, 47% of respondents indicated they were preparing for the next level of leadership. Deciding to take that leap requires one to weigh career decisions with a strategic mindset and a 360-degree view. Doing so will help develop a career roadmap and provide clarity to decide if that next opportunity is the right one.
Imagine this:
One of your colleagues recently told you that a new role within your organization is being developed. He also said that your name is at the top of the list to be considered. You decided that you want additional challenges, yet when this opportunity came your way, it was a surprise. You are flattered that people see you as a leader, but is this opportunity really what you had envisioned when you decided to take your career to the next level?
Here are seven questions to help you decide if that opportunity is the right one.
·    Vision: Where do you see yourself in the next five years, and will this role propel you there?
·    Confidence: How confident are you about excelling in this new role?
·    Values: How closely aligned are your values with the new role?
·    Work/Life Balance: How will you manage family, community involvement and other aspects of life with this new level of responsibility?
·    Capabilities: What can you contribute to the role, and what do you need to learn?
·    Relationships: Who will support you internally as well as externally?
·    Presence: What is the leadership presence that you convey now? Will that need to change in this new role?
At Career Partners International, we know that leadership is a journey and that it takes courage, humility, and discipline to embrace the next step.  With over thirty years of experience supporting individuals and organizations throughout the employee lifecycle, CPI can help you and your team catapult to the next level.
-Barbara A. F. Greene, CEO of Greene and Associates Inc., a CPI Firm
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Why So Much Of Crisis Leadership Is About Countering The Mood

If things are going generally well and people are heading in the right direction, deploy judo leadership, tactically redirecting their momentum. But if people are complacent or in a crisis, counter their mood, changing their state of mind and emotions and urging them on or calming them down so they can focus on what matters most.
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Taking A Stockdalian-Darwinian Approach To Your Business’s Future

COVID-19 changed everyone’s business calculations in an evolutionary instant. Some businesses will perish. Some will survive, but barely. Some will thrive. What happens to your business may have already been determined, or it may be the result of choices you make now. Choose to confront the brutal facts of the current reality. Figure out if your business can and should survive. If so, manage through the short-term crisis tactically while paving the way to the future strategically.
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