Worcester Business Journal

June 21, 2021

Issue link: https://nebusinessmedia.uberflip.com/i/1384148

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wbjournal.com | June 21, 2021 | Worcester Business Journal 19 By AiVi Nguyen AiVI Nguyen is a partner at Worcester law firm Bowditch & Dewey. Reach her at anguyen@ bowditch.com. Though we all may be feeling a little Zoom fatigue, we cannot deny video conferencing is now forever woven into the fabric of the busi- ness world. This is a good thing. We adapted to video conferencing because we had no choice, but moving forward, it is an invaluable time- saving tool for building business relationships difficult to build before. 10) Treat it like an in-person meeting. Ac- tively listen. Let your body language respond as if you are sitting four feet from the person. 9) Know the technology. Fumbling around with sharing your screen signals to a potential client you do not do your homework. 8) Backdrop matters. Your camera needs to be eye level. Your background cannot be distracting, blinding, or resemble a dungeon. 7) Audio matters. If we are in a room together with construction going on outside, it is some- how less distracting than if one person on a Zoom has construction going on outside. 6) Internet matters. When trying to make a good impression, spotty WiFi is the enemy. 5) Schedule for a time you would if it was a live meeting. Monday morning at 8 a.m. may be a more convenient time by Zoom than in person, but is it really that convenient? 4) Schedule for off times. A meeting that begins at 2:15 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. experi- ences less Zoom traffic and thus is less likely to have a bad connection. 3) Script a little more. When you are meeting someone in-person, there just tends to be fewer instances where one is talking over the other and fewer dreaded awkward silences. And if you are bringing a team with you to the Zoom meeting, make sure to plan ahead. 2) Think outside the box. The same way we celebrated birthday parties, reunions, family meetings via Zoom during the pandemic, is the way we should look at socializing with target connections with busy calendars. A cocktail over Zoom today is better than a penciled-in live meeting in a month. 1) Do not overuse Zoom. Treat it like you would a live meeting. You do not need to meet with anyone every single time you have some- thing to say to them. Remember that they are fatigued, too. K N O W H O W A virtual acquisition: Takeaways from a first of its kind E conomic experts say reskilling is needed as a result of the pan- demic, as companies lose profits and experience layoffs due to deglo- balization, digitization, and corporate consolidations. Online consumption is more the norm, with shiing consumer habits. At the same time new skills are needed, and millions are unemployed. Companies should make it clear. SHRM.org cites Bill Berrien, CEO of manufacturer Pindel Global Precision, when reskilling, practicing trans- parency, competency, and currency. Transparency refers to the career-de- velopment learning paths a company provides; competency means a compa- ny should provide opportunities for em- ployees to demonstrate competencies and not just knowledge on the job; and currency is human resources putting a value on reskilling opportunities – stating what they are worth in financial terms. "Jobs should align with the skill sets required and payment recalibrated to reflect those skills," the article states. Realize reskilling is not a temporary fix for lower-level employees. Work- force analytics firm Visier points out reskilling is for all employees, with change only accelerating. "Learning will no longer be a periodic one-and-done process, but a seamless part of work for everyone. Critical manager skill sets will also change because span of control will be broader with the rise of automa- tion." Visier touts using a time-to-pro- ductivity metric to calculate how much learning investment is required. Know the benefits. Companies that reskill employees, as Amazon did in 2019 – having its workers take on new roles in IT support and soware engi- neering with a $700-million training investment – improve employee reten- tion, reduce the cost of filling new roles, attract talent with a growth mindset and boost morale. "Employees who appreciate the benefit of a reskilling culture will also fortify your employee brand," says DigitalHRTech.com. "eir positive feedback can result in referring desirable candidates to apply for your open positions." 1 0 T H I NG S I know about... ...Successfully building relationships via Zoom BY SUSAN SHALHOUB Special to the Worcester Business Journal 101: E F F E C T I V E R E S K I L L I N G W BY JOSEPH KASK Special to the Worcester Business Journal A s CEO of blumshapiro, I worked side by side with our partner group through the extensive due diligence process of our team members joining the national firm CLA (ClionLarsonAllen LLP). Navigating the process of one firm joining another is an intricate, detailed effort even under ordinary circumstances. But as we all know, these are – by far – not ordinary times. With all the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person meetings were nearly impossible to conduct. All negotiations and discussions that brought blumshapiro under the CLA umbrella were accomplished entirely virtually, with conferences held via Teams, Zoom, WebEx, and telephone. During its history, blumshapiro had engaged in a number of acquisitions – and the in-person approach always worked well. Meeting in person provides a greater sense of who people are. Just as you can't discern a tone from an email or a text, a video image does not provide the same perspective as an in-person meeting. You can't read body language in a video, you miss the room's reaction to what is being said, and you're concerned you may not be seeing the whole picture. So, how do you negotiate a task of this magnitude almost entirely virtually? Each side should ask truly probing questions and listen carefully. A discussion starting with "What's in it for our pocketbook?" is rarely productive. e numbers part of the discussion – the debits and credits – is important. But it's vital to also understand the foundation of why the two parties would be better together. It was important for us to see people on both sides were genuine and passionate about the opportunity of joining forces. For us, the benefit of joining CLA would provide greater opportunities for our employees, clients, and community. For CLA, the incentive was its desire to grow the New England market. Although both organizations had a deep understanding of the importance of financials, we recognized – even virtually – this was about much more. Our discussions focused on the importance of our firm cultures, and how closely we shared a common purpose centered around our people, client service, philosophy, and commitment to the communities in which we work and live. As a $1-billion company, and the eighth largest accountancy firm in the U.S., CLA understood the importance of having a strong presence in New England and recognized blumshapiro's strong establishment in the region, stating, "You have the brand and the magic. Let's build New England together." From our first formal meeting on Zoom, it was clear we had something very special. CLA's then-CEO Denny Schleper and current CEO Jennifer Leary were obviously passionate about their company and clear with its vision for the future. We all could see the power of coming together, and our discussions quickly moved from the why to the how. As we enter into our new normal, we will once again have the opportunity for in-person meetings and traditional negotiations. But because of our recent forced dependence on virtual technology, we now have a better understanding of how it can play a vital role in the process. For companies looking to acquire, or be acquired, virtual technology can work. Along with the rest of the former blumshapiro partners, I am personally thankful for how this technology helped us step forward in joining CLA. Joseph Kask is the managing principal of busi- ness advisory firm CLA New England, which merged with blumshapiro in January. W W

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