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For our first podcast of the new year, we had an extremely inspiring conversation with Thomas Fuchs. He is the founder, head, and soul of QX-Quarterly Crossing, a globally unique excellence network for experienced and future leaders. Since its establishment in 1995, he has designed international recruiting formats and talent development programs for global players in a wide range of industries and has accompanied careers all the way to top management. It brings together thought leaders, role models and top talents, thereby creating the conditions for optimal personal and professional realization.

In the podcast, Thomas Fuchs talks about his company, social networking events and talent management under the conditions that have been brought about through the global pandemic. Which industries are currently looking for new employees? What influence does the pandemic have on recruiting processes and why should companies strengthen their employer brand now?

Thomas, you are the founder of QX-Quarterly Crossing, a network of excellence in which a lot of know-how is bundled, developed, and passed on. What prompted you to take this step of founding the company?

The step was passion-driven, the passion for people. I had already brought a lot of experience from the personnel development area of a bank, then wanted to bring together the most diverse disciplines as well as exciting people across industries and faculties. This inevitably led to innovation and progress.

Podcast-Aufnahme-Thomas-Fuchs-und-Julia-HammerAs an outsider, how can I imagine QX in definitive terms, and what is special about the network?

QX-Quarterly Crossing is derived from quarterly get-togethers for professional exchange. It is a physical network - people actually come together offline, live and in person. The spirit of that time, that very free, informal, and authentic thing that you attribute to a student, we have retained to this day. It is an elementary part of our DNA. We are inspiring, authentic and private, and it just stayed that way in a very natural way.

Again last year, C-level network members met for the leadership conference under strict COVID guidelines. What was discussed?

In general, we are experiencing a very strong need for familiar exchanges, especially among the C-levels. The main topics are digitalization, leadership, and restructuring.

And what are the current concerns of students and top talents?

Some of the students who are now entering the job market have been hit hard. They have been surrounded by positive development for the last seven to eight years, which has been very formative for this target group. Sentences like "the world is yours“, “you can achieve anything“ and “nothing can go wrong" stayed in their heads. Some dreams have already burst like soap bubbles. In some cases, they were let go on their first day of work or the start was postponed for several months. The uncertainty raises completely new questions.

Do you think this new experience will have an impact on the personality of young professionals?

Absolutely. Whenever there is such an impact from the outside, as there is now with the pandemic, everyone is forced to reflect and reinvent themselves. The person needs a plan B and thus naturally increases their own experience in dealing with this kind of resistance.

Which companies do you think are particularly affected by the crisis?

So in the negative case, certainly companies for transport, traffic, tourism, retail, and even the banks. In the consulting segment, those who are sitting on the beach at the classic strat houses, the strategy consultants, are having a harder time at the moment. They are being pushed from quarter to quarter. Nobody knows when business will pick up again. The strategy consultancies are already starting to tell their employees to look around in the job market. I sense a latent willingness to change jobs. There is always a market for top talent.

Which skills are currently in particular demand?

Especially at management levels, it helps now if you have been through a crisis before. Maybe the financial crisis in 2008 or the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000. It is about the ability to align employees in such a way that companies can overcome this crisis more quickly. In concrete terms, this means reducing fear, resistance and frustration, prioritizing actions, showing employees a future and actively informing them. These are the leadership skills of the hour.

So, in addition to qualifying an applicant, it is all about communication skills, because qualified information leads to anxiety reduction. However, mastering a crisis also requires the courage to transform and creativity - what about that?

Absolutely. That is a big challenge. People, including employees, generally do not want to change. Even when things are not going well, they prefer to stay in their familiar territory. That is where they know their way around. Change involves a huge effort, so we need managers who are able to take away the employee‘ fear during the change process and actively accompany them.

Thomas, you have already advised many companies on how to strengthen their employer brand. What advice do you have for companies that want to reposition themselves now?

First and foremost, you need to know and define your target group. Who exactly do I want to reach? Then, you need to know what drives these people. Why should they join your company? These messages must be communicated consistently via the channels that this target group consumes.

 

Are there any signs of long-term change as a result of the coronavirus crisis, particularly in the recruiting process?

I think so. In recent months, many companies have at least partially conducted their recruiting processes virtually, that is step one and two of the application process. However, I have also seen that entire processes were carried out completely virtually, with a digital handshake at the end. For the future, I can imagine that a hybrid will become established in order to realize efficiency gains.

And what do you think of completely virtual recruiting processes?

At this point in time, I do not think it is practical. Especially with executives, it probably will not be very successful without at least one live and on-site encounter. It is important to look each other in the eye to learn more than just the bare facts from a candidate. Subconscious communication plays a big part in this. The applicants facial expressions, gestures, body language, or even interaction signals help decision-makers make the right choice.

Thomas, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs to take this crisis as an opportunity?

Many companies were downright forcibly digitized, even though some of them were and still are very traditional. It had to be made possible overnight, and it worked. Even senior C-levels in medium-sized companies are now confident in using video conferencing and the like. Those who show a willingness to reinvent themselves again and again certainly have a great opportunity to take advantage of this crisis.

Thank you, Thomas, for the inspiring conversation and your interesting insights!

 

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