Planning for the New World: A Q&A with Mark Atkinson
News 27th February 2019 4 minutes read
How do organisations remain relevant when everything is changing at warp speed?
The quality of the relationships held with interim head-renters, head-hunters, transactional recruiters and specialist consultants should increasingly contribute to the information flows that help them protect their businesses, their functional credibility and their personal careers in today’s ever expanding VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) workplace.
We have asked some of our experts what trends will shape their markets and service design in the year ahead. As a business that effectively starts up every month we must continually invest, innovate, use fresh data and be curious about the way we serve markets without ever compromising our values, mission or the authenticity and inclusive practices that drive our corporate purpose.
Or, put another way by arguably the most successful business man on the planet:
“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon
The economic uncertainty that we experienced in 2018 will continue in 2019 – and we are already seeing a rise in demand for experienced interim leaders who can add measurable value while delivering projects effectively.
Organisations are increasingly looking for ways to assess the value interims deliver post-appointment, not just at the end of their tenure. HR teams recognise that this involves care and attention from their side, rather than just dropping interims in at the deep end and expecting them to swim.
As competition for the most talented interims builds during the year, corporate reputation and brand identity will become even more important. Organisations will need to nurture their interim relationships to attract the best professionals and will therefore work with recruitment partners with a human touch and well supported talent networks.
Industries like retail and consumer brands are changing at a furious pace. Executive interim managers are in constant demand to lead the way with innovation that’s suitable for today’s competitive environment.
The adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics and automation will drive transformation still further this year, reducing friction in processes such as supply chain management and customer services.
Talented interim leaders with knowledge of how to roll out new technologies, as well as an understanding of their future potential are already a commodity. Organisations will need to understand what motivates tech professionals and work with recruitment partners to align their employee value proposition and tap into proven networks of experienced interims. This is particularly relevant for traditional retailers who have to compete with the appeal of fast-growing disruptor brands.
Despite skill shortages in the UK, organisations still need to recruit the people to deliver new projects. Moving forward, we expect to see a much bigger focus on improving the efficiency of the interim recruitment process, from partner collaboration through to a fully outsourced managed service.
We are also experiencing higher levels of demand for advice and consultancy around diversity and inclusion. The emphasis on gender diversity in the form of the Equal Pay Review in 2018, together with government guidance on ethnic diversity, has prompted many organisations to consider how to improve the balance within their ranks. However, for many businesses the drive for diverse hires is focussed on permanent positions, with the vast interim market commonly forgotten.
Whatever form it takes, we help our clients realise the benefits of a diverse workforce and inclusive culture to ensure organisations do not fall behind in a competitive market. Interventions can include a diversity audit, a review of its policies and procedures and talent mapping.
Due to be extended into the private sector by 2020, IR35 reforms have had a significant impact on the public sector interim hiring market since April 2017 and will continue to have repercussions in the year ahead.
Austerity measures mean that public sector organisations have lower budgets but need interim expertise to help them transform operations and become more efficient – and costs for the most experienced professionals inside IR35 have risen by 25% or more. Attracting fresh executive talent to local government has never been harder. Councils can’t offer large pay packets and pensions, nor can they offer the same level of employment stability that they could in the past. All of this means the demand for high calibre executive interims is outstripping supply.
To break the deadlock, organisations are looking for recruiters with strong expertise in working with interim candidates moving from private sector to public sector roles, along with long-standing diverse networks of interim professionals with a broad range of experience from within their own sectors.
From hospitality to banking, and from retail to government services, every industry sector is facing huge change. Challenger brands are tearing up traditional blueprints and consumers are demanding new ways to access products and services.
In the year ahead, organisations will face growing pressure to be more innovative and efficient, while evolving business models at speed. They will increasingly see huge benefits in sourcing individuals and teams who have helped other businesses in similar situations, so that they can leverage their transformation experience.
More and more, interim managers are being used in conjunction with, or instead of, more expensive consultancies. A further trend for 2019 will be for employers to tap into the expertise of interim leaders who have transformed organisations in other sectors, not just their own, bringing new ideas and approaches to the table.