C4 Check-in: Focus on HR and the Channel

Notes from October 27, 2020

A C4 Channel Check-in was held on October 27, 2020. Twenty-six members attended the meeting that focused on HR issues and the Channel. Eaton’s Commercial HR Manager Sam Moskal opened the meeting with a brief presentation. Melissa Barnes, Senior Resource Specialist with Eaton was also in attendance. Lori Scarlett, Director of Human Resources at Ingram Micro added to HR commentary

Highlights of Sam presentation

In the new era of remote work, human resources departments are trying a variety of ways to keep staff connected and engaged. They include regularly scheduled check-ins, health surveys, one-on-one chats, and pulse surveys.

“We hear the call for flexibility loud and clear. It can be anything from job sharing and a compressed work week to a query if it’s okay to work in Saskatchewan now if the team is in Ontario.”

She said it is more important than ever for supervisors and sales leaders to be able to read body language and take cues from the tone of the conversation and what may be happening in the background to a video call. Some companies have been offering workshops with tips to help their workers pick up these subtle signals.

What’s the most important skill in the channel right now? Adaptability!

Sam suggested the two biggest HR challenges of the day are team building and new employee onboarding. “How do you communicate the culture of an organization when everyone is apart?”

One member said their company recently introduced a “buddy system” to help integrate new hires. A second said they had a similar “ambassador program.” A third member joked there has not been much hiring going on, so they didn’t see it as much of a problem.

In the conversation that followed members explored other HR challenges.

Managing conversations

  • Interruptions to video chats by children and pets that made the conversation “more authentic” a few months ago are beginning to lose their shine.
  • Employees who would never consider having the boss over for dinner are growing resentful that their manager has their eyes in their home on a daily basis. An increasing number of video meetings are conducted “cameras off.” – but they are still considered preferable to phone calls.

Predicting the channel workforce of the future

  • Inside sales and channel sales require different skills, but now everything feels like inside sales, said a member. “As we don’t know when that is going to change, perhaps hiring should focus on people who can shine on video calls. The remote interaction could be the new normal.”  She added customers are getting used to video calls and moving ahead may not want to spend the added time for a live interaction.
  • In a related point, one member said social media interactions have become exponentially more important as a way for channel players to brand themselves as they are not making public connections as often.

Flex hours

  • Flex hours are now a clear policy priority as many companies accommodate parents who have to pick up and drop off children at school. As one member pointed out, “this is not just women. The pandemic has forced more men to chip in with responsibilities at home.” Added another, “If Bill Gates can drive his kids to school, so can my husband.”

Several issues not related to human resources issues bubbled up

Video calls

  • The initial excitement that was associated with virtual meetings has disappeared completely. It’s now tough to keep people engaged and screen fatigue is beginning to take its toll on productivity and staff morale.

More informality

  • One member suggested there needs to be more less formal events to replace the watercooler conversations. “Everything is so scheduled.” He said golf was a good opportunity to build personal connections this summer, but as winter approaches, scheduled informality is going to be required.

Work/life balance

  • Work/ life balance remains a challenge. With the home office now just a few feet away, the temptation to “finish that last email” is still proving too great. “We’re seeing life-work integration,” said one member. “For good or for bad, there is new flexibility to shift work around other things…but you have to do it.”
  • To help address the issue of back-to-back meetings, one company now prohibits internal meetings on Fridays, and another has a meeting-free Friday at least once a month.

Also, at the meeting, Karen Pugliese was recognized as an official Board Member and Simon Powell of VMware was acknowledged as the first person to complete the C4 Channel Leader certification program.