Willis Langford, a results-driven, customer-focused human resource professional with demonstrated success of leading strategic business objectives over two decades across multiple industries of Finance, Construction, Consumer and Electronics (Semiconductors). He was awarded the Avnet Global HR Excellence Award – 2019 and was also instrumental in many company recognitions such as the industry’s first-ever Great Place To Work certification for three consecutive years since 2017 and Best in Electronics 2019 and 2020.
Q: What changes do you see in the onboarding strategies post-COVID-19?
A: Change is inevitable and organisations that wish to progress and not just survive will always be ahead of the curve. Digitisation was meant to be the future even before COVID-19 happened. So, companies who were using digital strategies would be better prepared to face the current challenge of tasks being completed virtually. Virtual interviewing is not new but e-joining, e-orienting and e-induction will be the new norm. I also envisage that organisations will start to focus more on soft skills apart from technical skills. Background checks for ethical practices, culture fitment, etc will be key drivers, while behavioural-based interviews will delve into experiences of trust, commitment and collaboration. The biggest change of all would be embracing virtual, online and digital platforms to ensure smooth onboarding.
Q: How can employers as well as employees stay motivated during this crisis?
A: One should understand that in a crisis of this magnitude, neither individuals nor corporations can do much. As one of my mentors once said, that we cannot change the environment in which we operate but we can definitely change the way we operate in the environment. So it is up to employers to adapt, adopt and adjust to these challenging times by changing policies, building trust, fostering camaraderie and employee engagement through frequent leadership communications, virtual competitions and more. Leaders showing empathy is key to helping employees stay calm and confident. On the other hand, employees can make use of this time either for upskilling or learning new skills, focusing on competencies like critical thinking and problem solving, thereby building their network. After all, the key to good health of mind and body starts with positive thoughts.
Q: How can emerging leaders be successful in the future especially when work is mostly remote-centric?
A: Leaders of today are faced with increased challenges due to fast technological advancements, changes in the workforce demographics and digital disruptions. And now, with the pandemic, emerging leaders have an additional challenge of managing people working remotely.
To have confidence in an individual, leader or organisation, one has to start with building trust. Likewise, for a leader to be successful, he or she needs to be a transparent communicator and one who encourages an open environment where people can voice their opinion freely. In these challenging times, it is important that the leader shows empathy. This can be demonstrated through active listening and showing care not just to the employees but to their families as well.
Q: You have received a lot of honours from Great Place to Work (3 consecutive years), to Avnet Global HR Excellence Award. Tell us more about how you accomplished these awards?
A: Today, we live in a very collaborative world and no accolade can be accorded solely to individual performances per se. I have always believed, encouraged and practised team bonding, empowerment and being an inclusive member within the team. As a result of this, I have been very successful in building teams that are happy and content with what they have at any given time. I have fostered an environment wherein people around me are not only empowered, but also independent with the confidence that I am behind them (like a safety harness), just in case they fall.
Accelerating the success of people around me has helped me in winning their trust and confidence in my leadership initiatives. Similarly, I have helped my organisation by enhanced employee engagement, employer branding and timely implementation of relevant employee-centred policies. Being a catalyst leader has helped me to achieve more!