Hiring talent in an up tick

Hiring talent in an up tick

Paul Smith, Managing Partner at Odgers Interim USA, talks about the growing demand for executive interim talent during the post-pandemic economic recovery

As the various vaccines work their magic, we may return to a new normality. We do not quite know what this will look like yet, but one thing is for certain: there will be a rush for talent as latent demand has built up at the executive level both from clients wanting to freshen up their Board and from candidates wanting a change.

In previous years following a downturn, there has been a mad rush to hire talent and fill the gaps organizations were unable to recruit for during tougher times. This has led to a compromise in the recruitment strategy and process. Short cuts are attempted, corners are cut, and a lot of businesses end up hiring the wrong person due to compromising their search processes for what is perceived as a ‘quick win’. This was highlighted to me in 2010 following the last significant recession. Businesses were wanting to hire talent quickly and were convinced that there was plenty of talent available to them. A particular client of mine, in the financial services sector, compromised their hiring processes and went to the contingent marketplace to hire a divisional Managing Director. They quickly made an appointment without their usual due diligence or in-depth search. In only 6 months the person appointed had left the business, and with it, a trail of destruction that took years and much investment to turnaround.

Rather than to rush in, this is the perfect time to look at the mid to long term talent strategy and hire accordingly. There are some great solutions out in the market to help with this. First, if a gap needs to be plugged because the business cannot go on without someone in situ, then hire an interim executive. An experienced individual can slot into the role immediately and transform the division or department or function. This will enable you to conduct a proper search for the long-term candidate you want in the role.

We had a classic example of how hiring an interim executive and conducting a thorough search worked well. A small tech disrupter wanted to establish its digital function. They needed someone who could come in immediately and put the strategy together, get the function up and running, and to grow the digital presence and deliver that strategy in the short-term. However, they felt that long-term they wanted an individual that could be part of the leadership team to take the business from small to large and implement all the people, process and systems required to make that transition over the next 3 to 5 years. We advised that this should be two different people as the skill set required for each stage was completely different. Odgers Interim found the Interim Head of Digital who got the function going based on her strategy and delivery. In the background, Odgers Berndtson conducted a thorough search of the market and found a permanent Chief Digital Officer to take the business to the next stage in its development. There was a smooth transition between the two hires and the company was delighted with the outcome.

The above example illustrates the benefit of capitalizing on the talent of the interim executive to use their experience to take the business to the level you need it in the short term. This will involve people decisions, process tracking and potentially a reorganization or, quite simply, filling the gap. Once the interim executive has the business aligned to the strategy and in a better shape, the business will be in a great position to invest in bringing in the future leader or long-term talent solution.

Hiring an interim executive is easy; they tend to be immediately available, have a wealth of relevant experience and are used to dropping into organizations and making a positive impact from day one. So as soon as you feel you need experienced talent, rather than rush into a bad permanent hire through contingent recruitment, bring an experienced interim executive in and then conduct a thorough search of the market for the long-term permanent hire. At the successful conclusion of the search, the interim executive will conduct a thorough hand over and step away, as agreed at the start of the assignment, with no further cost to the business, leaving behind a legacy to build upon.

For more information or to discuss the article in more detail, please contact Paul Smith


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