Our own Jon Price, Senior Manager of our Financial Change & Transformation Practice, was featured in The Global Recruiter this August, which explores team leadership tactics for recruiters.
Keep reading below, or read the full article here.
"As Boris Johnson arrived at Downing Street he brought with him a whole raft of speculation as to what his first new cabinet would look like. As the next incumbent of Number 10 following a Prime Minister who seemed unable to unify her team and a government which failed to reach a conclusion on the issue which dominated its existence, Johnson needed to make an impact, be clear about the course ahead and get a team together who would deliver – and perhaps more importantly, who would agree how to deliver.
For recruitment managers inheriting a new or existing team, the temptation to destroy what’s there and reinvent everything in their own successful image must be resisted. Everyone has an idea of what success looks like, yet in recruitment creating and maintaining a well balanced successful team is not that easy. Inter-personnel dynamics may not be immediately apparent, the strengths and weaknesses of a team may in fact be carefully nuanced, ultimately complimenting the unique talents and desires of each team member. Put simply, if it ain’t bust why fix it?
As Matt Weston, managing director, Robert Half UK notes, the current operating environment means making the right decisions have never been more important for SMEs. This brings added stress for leaders who need their teams to succeed against the odds. The company’s own research found in the next two years companies view their biggest challenges as economic uncertainty (45 per cent), ongoing digitalisation efforts (41 per cent) and increased competition (37 per cent).
“While it can be easy to focus inwards, it’s important to also shift a part of that focus to current market conditions and shifts in the industry,” says Weston. “To avoid becoming stagnant, businesses are looking to their leaders to help steer the organisation with confidence.”
For Weston the answer lies in a blended approach – being innovative with regard to the business and the structure of the team, coupled with a willingness to learn from existing employees and best practices. This, says Weston will help the team “feel part of the decision making process as you try to instil long-term change.”
“It is important that when looking to make significant changes, you take into account existing staff and proactively encourage them to participate and offer up ideas towards the various changes to the business,” he adds. “This will prevent employees from feeling left out, while also enabling you to learn and gain new perspectives on the business and the structures of teams.”
Mike Taylor, managing consultant – engineering at Heat Recruitment also emphasises the importance of assessing the attributes of the existing team before instigating change: “Some things you should take note of are the strengths, weaknesses and primarily, individual personalities and ways of working. Everybody is different and there is no one-size-fits-all,” he says.
More than popularity
“I like to think of success as the positive relationships you make,” continues Taylor. “This could be Boris Johnson’s downfall in the first instance – after all, he didn’t walk into his position as a popular bloke. It’s not really about popularity though, it’s about building relationships up over time as you help and support your team to learn and develop.”
Taylor advocates analysing limitations rather than simply dismissing them weaknesses arguing that such facets will indicate where growth and development are required. A nurturing and investment led approach – rather than slash and burn – will improve longevity and trust.
"I believe that ‘fine-tuning’ or developing people, rather than making big or bold changes, will lead to a greater positive change in the long term,” says Taylor.
“Leadership isn’t about domination – it’s important to manage by motivation, not by control,” says Anke Janssen, group managing director of markets at Carmichael Fisher. "Leading is actually about connecting with your team and ensuring they are part of the wider process. Be clear that you have no hidden agenda. Innovation breeds from your people, and I make it a significant part of my remit to communicate any changes or developments that could affect the team. Ensuring the clarity of your expectations will create a good buy-in from the team, which will in turn, raise team spirit.”
Alongside this compassion and consideration, however, Janssen says leaders must show an amount of toughness. “My leadership style certainly isn’t soft,” she says. “The most important attribute a leader can have is decisiveness. When push comes to shove and important decisions have to be made, it’s vital to be concrete with your decisions. Buy-in from your team is important, and nobody is going to support your decisions when approached with unease or hesitation.”
Jon Price, a senior manager at La Fosse Associate joined the business 18 months ago and was tasked with leading a new financial services team, made up mostly of existing La Fosse staff. “Your first priority should be to build trust and rapport with your new team – and as La Fosse is very much a values-driven business, I quickly realised this when I joined the team,” he says. “This doesn’t mean letting them get away with anything they shouldn’t – in fact, it’s important to set standards from the beginning – but if you’re going to achieve whatever it is you’ve set out to do, you’ll need buy-in from your team. Personally, I found building relationships with the existing management team particularly beneficial, as I could draw on their expert knowledge of the business while bringing my own fresh perspective to the table.”
Price maintains that the biggest mistake anyone can make when joining a new business in a leadership position is to come in and aggressively begin making changes. “Not only does this mean that you won’t have had time to understand the business and its processes properly, but you’ll also risk alienating your new team in the process,” he says.
Moving to a new leadership position is a huge challenge,” says Price, “it means creating a new culture for your team. But the biggest thing I learned is that this is much better achieved if as a leader you can shape rather than dictate the culture. Care, collaboration and communication are all important things to consider whilst driving high performance.”
Indeed, culture and the general business environment created by a leader does seem to be instrumental in delivering a new effective team. As Robert Half’s Matt Weston notes, being successful goes beyond organising and monitoring productivity and is instead about inspiring and motivating the workforce, both through encouraging an open exchange of ideas within the team, and through ensuring that they have the right blend of skills and experience in place.
“Improving a business has to start from the top,” says Weston. “This involves creating a clear vision for the direction of the business, as well as having a recruitment process that allows you to hire people with the right skills, experience and drive to help you execute this vision.
“A positive and open minded attitude to everything around you, from the people you work with to new forms of technology and working practices, will set you up for long-term success,” he concludes.
“New leaders should accept that their goals may take a while to be realised,” says Jon Price. “It’s natural to want to get some quick successes under your belt, but in the long term it is much better to focus on getting the team on track first. Be patient and concede that your personal goals won’t always come first from now on.”
Whether Boris Johnson has the patience, or will be afforded the luxury of time to be patient for results has yet to be seen."
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