How one startup weathered the pandemic
WeatherCheck doesn’t check the weather the way you or I might check the weather. The Louisville-based startup collects weather data from over a dozen data sources to help insurers and homeowners track potential natural disasters.
The insurtech company is uniquely positioned in the US’s Tornado Alley. And initially, the company focused on selling data subscriptions to insurance companies, agents, and brokers about which properties have historically been impacted by weather. Customers could then access damage reports and prepare their properties for incoming storms.
Then, the pandemic struck.
Like most small businesses, the economic fear hit WeatherCheck hard, according to Demetrius Gray, the company’s CEO. Subscriptions dropped as folks were ordered to stay at home. And the company had to cut their expected yearly revenue by 20%. But then, an opportunity presented itself.
Mother Nature stopped for no one (not even a virus). And millions of Americans were affected by wildfires, tornadoes, and hailstorms this past year. Last week alone, Hurricane Ida caused catastrophic damage up and down the East Coast.
The process of filing insurance claims in these events has always been complicated. Many underlying damages escalate months, even years, after the initial event. And with added complications from the pandemic, this process has only become more complex and time-consuming.
So, WeatherCheck pivoted its role to work with homeowners directly. Using machine learning, the platform can geo-locate storms and outline their projected impact. That way, the software can start building out claims before any damage is done, so homeowners can settle virtually and start rebuilding sooner.
Today, having reinvented itself, the company continues to help homeowners after natural disasters. And the pivot worked so well that WeatherCheck ended up almost doubling its annual revenue.
Seeing companies like WeatherCheck really makes you wonder: Where can you pivot to make a rainy situation a bit sunnier?
Do automated resume checkers actually work?
One of the biggest drains in the hiring process? Sifting through resumes to find the right ones to move on in the process.
The average job opening gets 250 resumes submitted to it on average. And ain’t nobody got time for checking all of those. Especially when you’re running a lean small business that’s rapidly adding headcount.
So, in typical 21st-century fashion, automated resume checkers (like SmartRecruiters) were born. AKA software that instantly denies resumes when they don’t fit the basic criteria needed for a job.
In theory, it’s an incredible idea. But in practice? Eh, not so much. At least that’s what a new report by Harvard Business School says.
Almost 90% of companies surveyed claimed that resume parsing software prevented them from getting solid candidates into the hiring process. All because the screeners are:
- Rejecting resumes if they don’t meet allthe job requirements (even though missing one or two items might not be a deal-breaker).
- Excluding applicants with a gap in employment history.
- Denying candidates based on vague keywords that employers entered as criteria. For example, hospitals put “computer programming” as a requirement for data entry jobs.
As a result, top talent is wrongly left on the table. Businesses are kept scrambling, trying to fill roles they desperately need. And with the record-high labor shortage that the US is facing, companies are feeling the burn from missing headcount more than ever.
So, while automation is the go-to move for most repetitive tasks, it might not be the best when it comes to hiring talent. When the cost of a bad hire is 30% of that person’s first-year salary, checking resumes manually may be worth it… at least until something better comes along.
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Are you a micromanager?
Every leader wants to believe they’re not a micromanager. But why not know for sure? Answer the following questions to check yourself.
- True or false: When faced with ambiguity, your direct reports can manage the challenge independently and still deliver top-notch results.
- True or false: Someone else could handle a few tasks on your plate, but it’s quicker or easier if you just do it yourself.
- What’s more important: The minor details or the bigger picture?
- What’s better: A new way that might work or the old way that definitely works?
See your results at the bottom of this newsletter👇
This week’s highlight reel
- Guess who’s back? Some companies have been in the office since the pandemic’s early days, and “despite the fits and starts, they say their experience is evidence that offices can function amid Covid-19 risks.”
- Starting to stumble. Since April, Peloton’s digital subscriber base and app usage have steadily dipped (by 17,000 and 42%, respectively). Could this be because gyms are reopening, or will we start to see things level off?
- Fabrication or flattery? That ultra-popular, viral meme you’re digging on Facebook is probably plagiarized.
- Acquisition alert. Word on the street is Intuit is in the market to acquire Mailchimp for a cool $10B+.
THE RESULTS ARE IN
So, are you a micromanager?
- The minor details
- The old way
If your answers match two or more of the answers above, you likely have a few micromanage-y tendencies. If your answers perfectly match, yikes – you’re almost certainly a micromanager.
But don’t worry! Here are a few actions you can start taking immediately to kick those bad habits:
- Delegate more. Sounds counterintuitive – but the more you manage, the less you can micromanage any one piece. So, go over each recurring task on your plate, and ask, “do I actually have to do this myself?” If the answer is no, assign it to someone else. If you said “yes” to all of them, start over. But this time, be honest.
- Align on expectations. When you delegate a new project out, set aside 30 minutes to discuss expectations and high-level strategy with all the stakeholders. But avoid the nitty-gritty details. If there’s a small detail that absolutely needs to get sorted before the project kicks off, ask questions about it. Such as, “how are we preparing for this obstacle?” Then, let your delegate take the lead.
- Document your processes. If you can’t trust your people for whatever reason, trust your processes. Document your tried-and-true way of doing things (no surprise – we love doing this in Trainual). This way, you can hold employees accountable – without hovering. Plus, your team gets an on-demand resource if they get stuck – and you’re not pulled back into the weeds.
- Praise top-notch work. But only if you mean it. If you’re not happy with the results, don’t praise the work, then fix it yourself. Instead, give candid feedback on what’s unacceptable, why, and what you’d like to see changed. Then, make them fix it. That way, they can learn the right way to do this task – and you can eventually step all the way back.