During an uncharted period of global economic uncertainty, organisations are in the middle of significant change and the speed of change is disrupting long-established business methods.
I have worked within the recruitment industry approaching 44 years, and have survived several recessions and close-run depressions, and have lived to tell the tales.
What have these experiences taught me?
I know that assuming a highly positive mindset during these testing times is the desired attitude. I can already see clear opportunities for businesses guided by bold leaders who can provide decisive direction and vision for their people, alerted by the light emanating between the gaps in services provided by other competitors. Leaders who are ready to drive hard and fast into these spaces and provide enhanced client-centric services will deliver a far greater level of satisfaction than their customers and candidates can presently obtain from the majority of recruitment consultancies.
These people are not frightened to innovate, do things differently, try out new ideas and processes, and they make no secret of their plans and views. Their businesses are excited about their immediate future, and easily understand the benefits of their service offerings to their consumers, whilst colleagues clearly identify the positive outcomes to their own career opportunities. There are many stories of businesses who have incepted and launched during recessions, all of which had leaders who held an unquenchable desire to succeed no matter what obstacles and setbacks were placed in their way.
Resilience linked to courage, a strong and shared vision, products and services that challenged the “norm”, an almost maniacal belief that they were “right”, and inspirational leadership qualities, were all evident in abundance in each of these case studies.
A cliché perhaps, but unquestionably true, both internally through the clear and consistent messaging and communication skills of these leaders which encouraged people to follow them, and also very apparent in the behaviours of the people who purchased from them.
These people were not buying into a proven formula, they were buying into the culture, the vision, the leading-edge services and products and an association with the brand. I have personally been involved in building dynamic businesses during difficult times, and these experiences were some of the most exhilarating of my career. A common goal, a zeal for the ideology, a firm belief that success would most definitely happen, made the journey stretching, intense, life affirming and fun.
Understanding clients’ and candidates’ needs and identifying the gaps comes from a very simple practice, speaking to them and meeting them regularly. But why would anyone make the time to meet us, and why would or should they care? This brings us back to that old maxim “What’s in it for me?”. Great leaders spend more time looking outside of their businesses than focusing their attention on internal issues. They are also rather good at delegating tasks and providing autonomy to their people. They manage their time effectively and communicate and network brilliantly – outside and inside their businesses.
Through a range of carefully planned and executed communication strategies, methods and platforms they make themselves aware of their clients’ needs to determine where the gaps appear, then they consider, innovate and invent with their people, and launch their solutions in a striking, distinctive and confident fashion.
Not many great things emerge by accident, although many amazing ideas ultimately emerge through transition, phases and iterations, the process of executing an imperfect idea, and then gradually smoothing and polishing the concept until it works and shines brilliantly. And yes, I did say imperfect. If you are waiting for the perfect solution for your customers, good luck with that one! Do your research, improve your service offering, launch it to your clients and candidates and then step back, review, improve your service, and go again, and again and again. It’s called “change”, or “progress”, and the current economic climate is crying out for innovators, who are not afraid to offer something different.
My clients will tell you that I am forever challenging their embedded processes and habits, provoking them to seek new and better ways of doing things, keeping customers at the centre of our thinking. Caution and fear are normal human emotions, and entirely understandable, but they cannot stand in your way from making changes to your services.
The deployment of proactive communication and active listening skills will jettison your development and enable you to gain market share in a more challenging environment. This is not the time to hunker down, this is the time to reinvent. Be strong, energise your colleagues and lead with conviction, and remember that luck always favours the brave.
Paul Jacobs – Co-Founder & Director at Jump Advisory