How our clients are planning for the economic bounce back

Clearly, priorities have dramatically shifted for businesses.  Negative reporting fuelled by the media is doing nothing to help business confidence.  Okay, none of us genuinely know what the future holds, when this pandemic will ease or will be banished by advancements in medicine.  However, Collingwood urge business leaders to put the media’s doom mongering into context – you only have to rewind to the media’s reaction to the Brexit talks of last year.

For Collingwood, the beauty of working across a diverse range of industries and countries is that we have been able to speak with a range of leaders on what they are anticipating will happen, together with the actions they are taking to futureproof their organisations.  Here is a snapshot of what they have said;

  • An $8bn global distributor, which is viewed by the US government as a critical supplier, is gearing up for a predicted very busy July. This has resulted in them adopting several proactive steps (detailed below) to ensure their structure can cope with the increased demand
  • A UK national construction services supplier anticipates dramatic growth over the coming three years and has engaged Collingwood to deliver a pipelining exercise to build its future leadership bench. This will ensure they have a nurtured and engaged leadership talent pool available from which to appoint and to execute each phase of their growth strategy
  • A $3bn industrial connectivity business has not witnessed a dip in bookings for future requirements. Collingwood is currently pushing forward with a number of key European hires and has lined up final interviews for when the travel bans are lifted so they can recruit quickly and not disrupt their growth strategy and the opportunities that will arise
  • A non-food consumer goods client expects a spike in activity in June and, as a result, is considering some of the themes below to ensure immediate future success
  • A €2bn aerospace / automation materials supplier has engaged with Collingwood to recruit a vertical sales specialist to operate across Europe

When a form of normality returns, Collingwood is confident top talent will be in high demand.  There are common themes that are setting many of our clients apart from their competitors and which are driving their strategies, irrespective of the strange situation the world currently finds itself in.

  1. Clients are continuing to recruit and commence retained executive search assignments. I personally have several examples of this, with the best illustration being that we are in the middle of recruiting a number of specialist sales roles across Europe, including Italy and Spain. I have been recruiting several of these positions personally and the response rate from targeted candidates has markedly improved from their normal availability to engage with us.  Superstars are far more open to talking. Of course, this does involve Collingwood having a watertight message to relay to the market in terms of this client’s future plans and intentions to recruit and, importantly, this involves consistency from the client when they interview. Virtual interviewing has been extremely straightforward, with the client having now lined up the best two to three candidates for each role for final interviews.
  2. Talent pipelining.  This is where clients engage with us to identify the best talent within their specialist market (be this active or passive candidates). In fact, I have just started 3 talent pipelining projects in the built environment for clients who anticipate growth and need to future proof their management structures. Rather than react when a need arises, they will be able to continue to work with Collingwood to engage with the best and already qualified candidates quickly. Collingwood’s MD, Doug Mackay, wrote an article about talent pipelining which should provide leaders with a good introduction on the subject – read it here
  3. Keep your senior team on-track and communicating about the medium-term goals, ambitions and strategies of your organisation. Granted, an Operations Director is frantically trying to keep manufacturing plants running and HR Directors have 101 priorities s/he didn’t envisage having at the turn of 2020. But it is vital that the strategy the senior management team agrees upon is well communicated to all stakeholders both inside and outside of your organisation. Read here

In order to support your organisation to adopt any of the above, Collingwood has put together some advice to help you. Virtual interviewing and virtual on-boarding are effective ways to welcome new starters and not have to postpone their arrival, which could potentially damage your business.

  • Virtual interviewing can be foreign to some leaders.  Although nothing beats meeting shortlisted candidates face-to-face, that does not have to mean an organisation puts open positions on complete hold. This this will inevitably lead to battles for in-demand talent when some form of normality returns.  Doug wrote an article around this subject – read it here
  • Virtual on-boarding is not ideal but, when introducing a new leader, there is typically a common theme – these people are brought onboard to build a new strategy and direction in their area of specialism.  If as an organisation you have followed best practice in terms of engaging with the offeree throughout the recruitment process and their notice periods, they should have a strong understanding of the current situation and what areas need changing. Continued communication is essential as now is the perfect time for them to be building their strategy. Read more here
  • Through my network, I am fortunate to know Oliver McCann, Partner at retained law firm Napthens. Due to having three senior hires within built environment who are starting with clients within the next three months, I asked for his advice on the subject from both a legal and practical standpoint.  Please feel free to read our joint article for clarity

To summarise, there are some clear steps leaders can take to ensure positions in the market are upheld and strategic plans are delivered. Granted, vacancies can be sat on, especially if the organisation expects to be able to fill the role through the advertising route.  If, however, the vacancy is critical to your organisation’s future success and, thus, there is a need to bring in the best talent, I would urge that you do not wait and expect to secure your next superstar within a month (or three) of commencing the process.  Any good headhunter will take at least four weeks to deliver a well-researched, assessed shortlist. Following this, you will wait a further three to six months once you have appointed the successful candidate, whilst they serve their notice period.

Read more here about the benefits to you of a good executive search process.