2020 Hindsight – Things Become Clearer

There is no doubt the memories of 2020 will stay with us for some time but as those memories fade, there are changes businesses will carry into the future. Call it what you may, remote working, working from home, or the virtualization of work, leaders need strategies for this new reality.

The virtualization of work has impacted more than the workday.  It’s impacted every level of business.  Importantly, leaders are thinking differently about attracting, developing, and retaining talent. The new work environment has increased the competition for high performing talent.  Hiring managers across the food and agriculture industries are re-designing strategies and thinking through new employee relocation requirements, including onboarding, motivating, and developing their people. In so doing, HR professionals and business leaders are discovering an expanded talent pool with richer diversity and more commitment to adaptability.

This expanded talent pool is also coming to work with higher expectations of leadership. 


There is no bumping into someone in the lunch line, swinging in to say hello to find out how the weekend was, and no submitting that paperwork “in person.” The challenge for leadership is building relationships and keeping high-potential employees engaged, which is not driven by technology or where work is accomplished, but by building community and connections.  It is important that we recognize there is a loss, a loss of human connection which may be a threat to retention. Finding new ways to stay in sync with one another is good for the soul, and good for business.


Less commute time may mean more personal time OR it could mean an extended workday. We all have those days in which we need to crank something out and spend a few extra hours at the desk. I encourage you to occasionally check in with yourself and your employees to see if it has become more the norm than the exception. 

Personal Development

There is a reason the flight attendant asks you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Taking care of your own growth and development can get lost in the ongoing demands of the day. We may need to be more intentional about holding time on our calendars for reading, online classes, or networking. Employees are watching how leaders prioritize these activities, are you treating your development with as much importance as you do a scheduled meeting? Your high-potential team members are also looking to you for direction on their development, and just because the work environment has changed, their need to learn, grow, and prepare for their next role within the organization has not.   

The virtualization of work means we need to be intentional about relationships, taking care of ourselves, and holding our team accountable to balance, while prioritizing your personal development and development of those we lead.  Starting a new year and continuing your adjustment to virtual work is a great time to set goals.  As an executive coach, my colleagues and I at Kincannon & Reed have worked with several organizational leaders helping them transition to new expectations, new teams, new leadership, and now new ways of working.  If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to us at KRcoach@KRsearch.net.

About the Author:  Sally Day is a Managing Director with Kincannon & Reed.  A certified executive coach and search professional, Sally brings more than 25 years of industry experience as a senior leader working for well-known consumer food companies, including The J. M. Smucker Company, Unilever, Keebler, and Nestle. Sally’s tenure in organizational strategy and leadership provides an unmatched experience when coaching executives or working with clients to identify and assess future talent.

Sally knows firsthand the kinds of challenges leaders encounter. Whether you have taken on a new role, are working to develop your leadership capabilities, or you’re looking for what comes next, Sally will help you discover your untapped potential. She has a career’s worth of experience in coaching and mentoring, and her client base has included c-suite executives and high potential leaders.  Sally is a Board-Certified Coach (BCC) through the Center for Credentialing and Education and an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation. 

Sally earned an Executive MBA from Kent State University and completed her B.S. in Business Management and International Business, with a minor in Polish Language from Alliance College. She holds certificates in executive coaching and leadership assessment from the following accredited organizations.