Interim management agencies

What do interim management agencies do? Interim management agencies quickly place interim managers and executives across a diverse range of businesses. When it comes to hiring an interim manager or a project team, getting it wrong can cost your business money and be detrimental to projects and transformation activity.

Our process enables you to find the right people for your business quickly. We’ve worked with many of our associates for years and know who delivers effective results. When we go to market to source niche skill sets, we directly approach candidates, understanding their skills and expertise beforehand, rather than the other way around.

What does an interim manager do?

Interim managers are normally used to lead a change or transformation programme, to fill an urgent gap in the senior leadership team, to fill a skills gap or to reinforce a project team that you already have in place. They are normally hired for a specified period to deliver key objectives. An interim manager is often seen as an objective point of view, who is removed from the internal politics of an organisation. For this reason, they can be an invaluable source when moving forward as an organisation.

When should an interim manager be used?

Interim managers are most useful when implemented in short-term situations. This is most common when the business is in a period of change or transition, opening a new market or acquiring a new subsidiary. They are also useful when managing a one-off project or being the intermediary between a departing manager and their permanent replacement.

What are the differences between interim managers and management consultants?

On the surface, both interim managers and management consultants share many of the same roles and responsibilities. But there are several benefits that come with hiring an interim manager over a management consultant.

Firstly, interim managers are hired based on their abilities and reputation whereas management consultants work for an agency. Motivationally, this means that interim managers benefit from cutting costs and improving effectiveness within the organisation quickly whereas management consultants inherently benefit from recommending their agency’s additional services. This also means that management consultants report to an agency, which can create a conflict of interest, an interim manager however reports and is directly accountable to the business.

Interim managers are often specialists in the field, giving the business hiring an assurance that they have the necessary experience needed. Management consultants, however, are typically more generalist and so may not have the levels of experience and specialist knowledge that is needed to successfully operate in the given role.

Overall, interim managers offer a more complete service than management consultants. This is a fact that organisations have noticed in recent years. It has been reported that around 78% of senior directors feel that interim managers are preferable to management consultants.

Difference between interim and exec search

Executive search is a specialised type of recruitment aimed at attracting highly skilled senior management talent to an organisation. Senior executives have a significant impact on an organisation and its success, so you need to find the right person to drive your business goals.

An interim executive is not a permanent member of staff, will not be on your payroll, but will become a temporary member of the team. They have a very niche skill set and can help your business through some form of change.

What day rate should an interim be paid?

I have been asked a lot of questions about day rates for interims over the years – what day rate should a client pay or at what day rate should someone enter the market are the most frequent.

This seems like the age-old question and sometimes it seems like there is little rhyme or reason as to why people pay what they do…

Unlike permanent search, where positions are set at market rate and are typically benchmarked accordingly, interim roles at the senior end of the market, tend to be more fluid dependant on a few factors.

The interim standard for day rates is calculated as 220 days per annum + 30% on top. 220 accounts for working days per annum, including some downtime between contracts. The 30% is for the benefits that you would normally receive in a perm role.

What are the advantages of using an interim?

Immediate delivery

  • Hit the ground running and deliver results very quickly, they are also normally immediately available.
  • Typically, they are overqualified for the role and have done it before.
  • Much more delivery focused and cost effective than hiring a management consultant from one of the major consulting firms.
  • Bring an outside perspective and objectivity.

Cost advantages

You don’t have to think about the following costs:

  • Employment costs and administration.
  • Benefit costs and administration.
  • Sickness/absence costs.
  • Training and development costs.

You buy in specific knowledge and skills only when required.


Flexibility

  • You can increase or cut back on your staffing levels dependant on business demand.
  • The Interim hiring process is significantly faster than that of hiring permanent employees.
  • It’s simple to terminate or extend the services of Interims as required

Performance and fit

  • You can ‘try before you buy’ in that if performance is not satisfactory, you can take remedial action very quickly.
  • The chance to evaluate Interim performance and team/cultural fit with very little risk.
  • An opportunity to evaluate the Interim against a permanent role if applicable.

Management

  • HR support can come from the Interim provider.
  • Problem resolution comes from the Interim provider.
  • The use of Interim Executives has grown significantly in recent years as they offer real business solutions. They can act as powerful change and delivery agents, bringing new and fresh perspectives on issues, governance, and best practice.

You should take the process of selecting an Interim Executive as seriously as you would a permanent role. There is the potential for it to not quite go to plan, with significant consequences that could cost you time, money, embarrassment and possibly your personal reputation as a hiring decision-maker.

Some key behaviours that should be demonstrated by a quality interim executive

Leadership

They are able to navigate unforeseen obstacles and challenges. They have the skills and experience to do so, but also the leadership and people management abilities. This enables them to drive positive change through the people, improving the culture and delivering strategic communications.

Knowledge and experience

They bring industry insight and vast commercial knowledge which they have gained over many years experience in executive leadership positions, in both permanent and interim.

Transformation and turnaround

Change must happen quickly but without compromising the long-term stability of the business. The ‘tool kit’ the interim execs bring; meaning they are able to hit the ground running and make positive changes from day one.

Legacy

They will leave the business in a better position than when they started. This legacy should continue long after they’ve finished because they have put the foundations in and got buy-in from the business to continue with the change journey.

How do you get it right when hiring an interim?

There are certain things to think about when in the hiring process for an interim manager. Does the Interim listen and hear you? Can they understand and evaluate the job or projects you describe? How does the Interim respond to your description of the job or project? Are they simply repeating or paraphrasing what you say, or are they reframing your needs to help both of you understand what you want to achieve? Do you feel that your discussions with the Interim are part of an open, creative process?

You need to combine the ideas and experiences of the Interim with the business needs and desired outcomes. A good Interim will have a range of tools and techniques at their disposal and should be able to describe a defined process or road map from where you are now, to where you want to be. This will reassure you that they understand what needs to be done. You should feel that the Interim has added real value even before you choose to work with them and most Interims who understand their worth are happy to share these thoughts before being engaged. Evidence that the Interim has achieved results elsewhere is vital. Their willingness to share previous successes and failures with you not only makes a statement about their competence but also informs you about the importance they place on measuring success and delivering results (rather than simply working through a process).

Before engaging your Interim make sure that you have successful references from previous clients. Any Interim that has successfully delivered a project on time and to budget, will no doubt have past clients falling over themselves to say how great they were.

Thinking of becoming an interim?

If you’re thinking of becoming an interim, there are many things you need to consider. Your skillset first of all, whether it’s niche enough and there is a demand for it. Building and utilising a network is important for interims, so you need to know you are able to do it. And also, are you able to cope with the challenges of being out of work for periods and working independently a lot of the time, without that real sense of the team around you? You can watch our video ‘can I become an interim’ here, to see in more detail the things you should be thinking about.

You might want to consider writing an interim CV too. A lot of interim professionals I know have multiple iterations of their profile.


How is the interim market now?

For the last 18 months, discussion on the interim market has all been around Brexit, IR35 and how things are going to be challenging for interims in the future.

IR35 rules first came into effect in April 2000, to try to ensure individuals hired through an intermediary, were paying the right amount of tax. This has caused some panic among businesses and interims.

The pandemic has also thrown in its fair share of challenges. But as we move out of the other side and get used to the new IR35 rules, I think the future is looking bright for interims.

I spoke to several interim consultants who we work with regularly to get their views on the market and got some interesting insight from them. You can view the whole blog here.


James Cumming is our MD and leads our Interim Transformation practice. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.

Interim management: how is the market for interims right now?

For the last 18 months, there have been numerous discussions on the future of interim management. This has mainly focused on IR35 and whether the market will ever be the same again…

As we emerge from the pandemic we wondered if anything had changed. We spoke to several senior interims, in our network, to find out if things had changed and what it looks like on the ground at the moment.

So, how is the market at the moment?

Melanie Steel, Career Interim, People Change Expertise, discussed with me how the whole interim market has been pretty confused with Brexit, then IR35 and of course the pandemic to contend with.

Ian Williams, senior people practitioner, of Infocus HR consulting, said there are fewer roles on day rates because of IR35. He’s found it a struggle to get organisations to think outside IR35. They are being ‘safe’ and want to stay inside IR35, from a risk perspective.

Carolyn Fox, Interim HR, OD and transformation specialist, thinks that large organisations are continuing to be risk-averse. She said there are a lot of assignments are inside IR35, permanent or on an FTC basis.

Simon Brown, of Simon Brown Associates has been an interim for 11 years. He said the market is just beginning to pick up following the pandemic because a lot of businesses play the ‘wait and see’ game – when there is uncertainty, they hold back. The same way that the financial crisis slowed the market down.

Sharon Green, a people change, tech & comms interim for over 15 years, said ‘we are still in choppy waters, things are a bit slow, and clients are cautious, but there is a bit more hope in the market.” Sharon also runs the LinkedIn group HR Interim Networking and the feeling from the community is that there is a lot more optimism now than there has been over the last 18 months.

And how has the pandemic changed things?

As we come out of the pandemic, we can see a clear need for strategic experts and change managers, at a time when a lot of businesses are going through huge change programmes. Organisations really need strong leaders and if they don’t have them, they may need an interim to step in to bridge the gap while they find one.

Melanie has found from working closely with HRDs, that the pandemic pushed people into thinking very short term. This had a knock-on effect on the interim market as change projects were ‘turned off’. Although these projects got turned back on, it was at the same time as Brexit was bubbling away in the background and IR35 has come in, adding extra layers of complexity. Some businesses were prepped and ready to handle the changes, but some weren’t. Those businesses are going to be slower at getting up to speed with the changes in the market, and therefore slower at getting those interim projects going again.

For some contractors, the pandemic led them to lose their role. Ian thinks that these people may have had a rethink on whether they’d prefer a perm role, for the security it offers. This could lead to fewer interims in the market going forward.

With the capacity to bring strategic focus, crisis management and project delivery during uncertainty; professional interim managers have a key role to play in helping businesses to ‘ride out the storm’, facilitate recovery, and lead businesses through transition and change.

As we come out of furlough and into winter, businesses will be looking at budgets and headcount. Carolyn said she thinks that the demands for change in organisations will create more opportunities for interim OD work. Plus, senior people who haven’t been moving around much will start to move again. This creates new change programmes wherever they go, and therefore more opportunities for interim work.

Simon discussed how the trend following the pandemic to ‘change or switch’ is bringing about lots of opportunities for interims. Organisations are going through a change – for example, tech companies are in growth mode as we rely on digital more than ever. Or they are in switch mode, like retail and hospitality, who have had to switch their services to online, as the high street reduced dramatically. Clearly, the high street can’t fully switch to online, so they’re having to look at restructuring, downsizing or M&A.

The big difference brought about by the pandemic was the move to remote/hybrid working. This is a positive thing for everyone and especially interims, who have much more flexibility to work on projects because they can work remotely.

Sharon commented on this change but said it was strange it was to go from the pitching stage, through to completing, without ever stepping into the client’s office. “It made it very challenging to get work in and similar to the financial crash in some ways. It was difficult to pull levers you’d normally pull to get work. Most people’s mindsets were in a different place, which made it difficult for the whole interim community to do ‘our thing’”. Sharon said her community – HR Interim Networking – really bonded during the pandemic, pulling together, asking questions, learning and supporting each other. The support requested in the community was also very different during the pandemic, as there was much more HR generalist work – furlough/redundancies/org etc, so everyone learnt from the questions being asked.

What about IR35?

It’s what everyone is talking about now! If I think back to 10 years ago, there was a real divide between interim managers and people looking for a job. Those lines have become blurred since, due to the gig economy and skills shortages, but it seems as though that might be changing.

In the short term, it may feel challenging for interims because of things like businesses imposing blanket bans. But longer-term, I think IR35 will make for a better interim market. It will remove interims that were on the margin, as it’s no longer viable for them. Yes, that will shrink the market, but it will be left with more senior interims, with more skill focused on transformation projects and M&As. This is exactly what Interims should be hired for – their niche skillset, which is missing in the organisation.

Businesses use interims when they need flexibility in a period of change and this requirement will not change. I think it will make the market smaller and more professional, but businesses will still need to utilise a highly skilled, flexible workforce.

The impact of IR35

The impact of IR35

Carolyn said she thinks IR35 is misunderstood, which in turn creates a ‘blanket approach’ from businesses, to make it easier for them. This approach is – “don’t use interims”. However, it doesn’t need to be like this. She explained when the objectives, deliverables and skill set are clearly defined and it’s clearly outside IR35, it doesn’t need to be difficult.

Simon agreed that companies are nervous about IR35 – because they’re liable if they don’t do it properly. When they’re cautious, they tend to just avoid it. He said, “Some companies are learning and looking into IR35, so they can make the most of interims. We can help them, by giving as much information as possible and being clear and transparent.”

The ‘blanket ban’ was also mentioned by Melanie, who discussed the responsibility that recruitment agencies have, to push back on clients where necessary if the blanket ban isn’t the right decision. She said that rather than doing what is easier, the client, the agency and the interim all need to be disciplined in their approach and do things for the right reasons, and not for ease.

Sharon said that IR35, along with Brexit and the pandemic, has “rocked the market” – clients are confused about what’s in and outside of IR35 and are making some ‘interesting’ decisions. “It’s about risk and opportunities, but hopefully it will lead to a differentiation – between true interim roles and those who should be on a permanent or fixed-term basis. Some interims are thinking about going perm or taking an FTC. It really depends on their specialism and what work they do. I still see a place for professional interims in business.

The future for interims

With all of this in mind, what does the future look like for interims? Is it positive? I think so and Ian agrees – he said there’s lots of work out there and he doesn’t think they’ll be a shortage of interim work, but he does think the contracting market will shift. “Certain industries always had high levels of contractors, who were kept on for years, when they shouldn’t have been. I think we’ll see fewer contractors’ roles as interim HR directors or IT directors, where the role can be a perm or FT contract. The change and transformation driven roles will be more popular – the true specialist interim roles. This should push rates up in the shorter term too.”

He also mentioned that he thinks it will be another 12-18 months before companies get comfortable with IR35, as they’re still in risk mode. But skills shortages from not going inside IR35 will change that and confidence will build.

There is also a focus on education. Ian mentioned line manager education and ensuring they are clear about what interims are for. And the fact that HR needs to be educating the business about risk around IR35 and what’s expected.

Carolyn added to this, and made a good point, that interims have a responsibility to be part of the education and change the way they operate. “Interims need to become more of a consultant – they need to produce a statement of work with deliverables, timescales and how it will be resourced. If you’re clear about setting out objectives and deliverables and the fact that you’re doing an ‘activity and not a job, then it will make things a lot clearer. Interims have not always done the planning piece of exactly what is going to be done, with a timeframe to review against, but by doing this it mitigates risk and makes everyone feel comfortable.”

Melanie agreed saying, “we all need to play our part in the educating and questioning – ‘we’ meaning interims, recruitment agencies and HRDs. I think IR35 will flush out the market – so becoming an interim will be a deliberate career change – and not just a stop-gap. You need to be sure and clear on what you will need to do as an interim, as there’s a lot to set up and think about, as well as a mindset shift! And on the other side of the coin, businesses will need to use interims in the right way, for the right projects. As we move out of the ‘greyness’, there’s going to be change. Businesses pay a premium for skills shortages that interims have.”

Melanie also highlight next year’s Budget and how that may cause an issue for interims – we will see.

From Simon’s perspective, the future is looking bright for interims. “It will help that you can recruit people from anywhere, as it will open up the opportunities and widen the talent pool.” He also rightly pointed out that the increase in change across industries gives more opportunity for specialist interims. “Big system implementation has been put on hold, this will need picking up again in the new year, which in turn will create more work. Interim opportunities will increase particularly for those interims who specialise in Organisational Change and Business Transformation where businesses are looking for fast-tracked expertise from experienced change catalysts. Interims can support organisations either as ‘skin in the game’  PMO work-stream leaders -offering a blended solution to source change programmes, or as seasoned executive advisors providing a sounding board to the C-suite Leadership Team as a coach or mentor.”

Sharon said she thinks things are still going to be ‘choppy’ – they’ll work out, it depends on what work you want, what quality and what rate. “There will always be new people entering the profession, perhaps trying it post redundancy, which can make the market crowded at times. I am an optimist. Getting a clearer definition of the roles and types of work needed in the workplace, considering all stakeholders, could be a good thing for everyone. It’s also important employers consider what interims want – we want to run our own business; we don’t necessarily want the security of FTC.”

She thinks there will be clients who get educated and start using interims for the right projects and some that have a fixed mindset on their workforce and don’t want to take the risk. They would rather use the ‘blanket approach’ and stick to it, especially if they see themselves as a big player in the market. But skills shortages are being discussed, which might impact that mindset.

“It’s down to us to ‘own’ what we do – ‘I run a business, this is how I run it, this is how I work’ and make it easy for the client to understand”. This comes as part of the education piece to help the client realise it’s possible. “There is space for interims and need for us, it’s just whether we can carve it out.”

Some really valid points here – in my opinion, I think in the longer term, the future will be bright for interim managers. If I think back to pre-2008 there was a clear divide between ‘proper interims’ and people who happened to be in the market. I am hoping that this distinction may become apparent over the long term and will inevitably lead to more interesting projects and higher rates for professional interims.  

A huge thanks to Ian, Melanie, Simon, Sharon, and Carolyn for your views on the interim market.

 James Cumming is our MD and leads our Interim Transformation practice. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, with IR35 or anything else, please get in touch.

We work with IR35 Shield, an independent assessment tool that can accurately assess your contractor workforce IR35 determination. It helps both interims and the client organisations to cut through the mystique and ambiguity which often surrounds perceptions of IR35.

What is HR?

What is HR? HR – or human resources – is a department in a business responsible for taking care of the employee life cycle. This includes recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, and firing employees, as well as employee benefits, maternity leave and sick pay.

The HR department is also key in business success and growth as it is their responsibility to work with managers to develop and embed people strategies throughout the business and to ensure the vision is shared by all employees.

Organisations depend on three main resources: physical, financial and people. The role that the people play cannot be underestimated because it is vital in any business because they will execute strategies, plans, and processes to make a business successful. And HR is in charge of looking after the people and one of the biggest assets. If people are managed correctly, organizations can be more profitable, lead more effectively, create brand loyalty and do better work.

The human resource function of every business defines its success as an organization. An organisation’s HR function needs to be effective as it plays a major role in the growth of its bottom line and the success of its business strategy.


What does HR do?

There is a whole range of tasks that HR is responsible for, which are all centred around the people in the business. Human resource is a resource for the people to help and support them and their tasks include:

Recruit candidates

When recruiting, HR needs to understand the needs of the business to find the right people for new positions. Arranging interviews, coordinating hiring efforts, and onboarding new employees all falls under their remit.

Update employee records and company policies

Policies need to be checked and updated where necessary, to keep aligned with the changes in the business. Employee records need to be kept on file and up to date. This is a legal requirement, can help to identify skills shortages and also have emergency contacts for each employee.

Employee benefit analysis

If you want to recruit the top talent, you need to ensure your benefits are attractive, so that you do not miss out to other companies. To stay competitive, benefits analysis needs to be undertaken by HR, to see what other companies are offering and if your package is good enough.

Disciplinaries

It is thought of as the ‘not so nice side of HR’, but it is really important that disciplinaries are navigated properly, ultimately for the best for the employee and the business. Whether there is a problem that needs investigating, so relevant support and guidance can be given to the employee to help them get better. This is much better for the business than going through the time and cost of firing and replacing them. However, sometimes it is better for the individual and the business for them to be let go if they just aren’t the right fit for the business. It is up to HR to decide the best course of action in these situations. If navigated inappropriately, disciplinary actions can lead to the loss of a valuable employee and can even result in litigation or a poor reputation.


How does HR support employees?

HR exists to help employees thrive, protects their wellbeing, and makes sure they are happy in their role and at the company. Here are the ways HR supports the people of the business.

Career paths

Career paths give employees goals and keep them motivated and engaged. Once you have a great employee you want to keep them so it’s important that they know how they can progress. HR can then check in periodically to further guide employees on their career paths. 

Learning and development

Offering training opportunities is a great way to keep your employees motivated and helps them to continuously develop their skills. HR can help determine which classes and training programs would be best for an employee on his or her designated career path.

Making managers

Managers aren’t born. They’re created. HR can help by organising relevant training, support and mentors to make the best managers.

Wellbeing at work

Well-being is so important, and it is becoming a real focal point for businesses. People want to feel happy and healthy. They want to feel valued, appreciated and developed. Happy and healthy employees produce better work and make a much better culture, so it’s important to remember that employees are people. Wellbeing in the workplace covers navigating everything from physical and mental health, financial health, and other issues such as pregnancy and adoption, bereavement and divorce.


When do you need HR?

The HR department should have regular 121 meetings to check how they’re getting on in their role and with their career path, plus to see if they have any problems or issues they’d like to discuss. You can find out what else makes a great HR professional here.

The situations where employees may need to reach out to HR for support:

  • If you experience harassment or discrimination from colleagues
  • With questions about benefits that need answering
  • If personal circumstances change which will affect your working schedule
  • To discuss your career path, progression, and training
  • Any other work-related issue

When does a company need a dedicated HR person?
  • If they’re rapidly expanding

Not only can they help with recruiting and onboarding new people, but they can also carry out performance reviews to assess for strengths and weaknesses and identifying where improvements can be made. This helps businesses get the very best out of their team.

  • If they need help with employment law

Employment law can change rapidly, and an HR manager can make sure you’re up to date with all the latest changes to employment law.

  • Employee disputes are on the rise

The more employees you have, the greater the risk of issues. An HR manager is responsible for handling conflicts in the workplace and should be able to avoid lawsuits through mediation. This enables the business to keep staff happy and productive.


What is HRM?

Human resources management is the strategic approach to the employment, development, and wellbeing of the people in a business. It involves all management decisions and actions that affect the relationship between the organisation and its employees.

The functions of HRM are managerial, operative, and advisory.

Managerial functions include:

  • Planning: The planning function of HRM ensures the best fit between employees and jobs avoiding shortages or surpluses. There are four key steps of the HRP process: Analysing present HR supply, forecasting HR demand, balancing HR demand with supply, and aligning to the organizational goals.
  • Organising: Organising is the function of HRM that involves developing an organizational structure to ensure the accomplishment of the organizational goals.
  • Directing: Ensuring all employees are doing what they should be doing, in order to achieve the business goals.
  • Controlling: Performance is evaluated, verified, and compared with overall goals. Action must be taken if performance isn’t at the right level, otherwise it wil effect the business in a negaive way.

The advisory function includes:

  • Top Management Advice: Advise the top management in formulating policies and procedures to maintain high-quality HR and improve employee morale.
  • Departmental Head advice: HRM advises the heads of various departments on policies related to job design, job description, recruitment, selection, appraisals.

What is the importance of HRM?
  • Valuing individuals:
    Employees are more likely to stay at an organization with an empathetic employer. The happywork study by Ultimate Software says that 75% of employees would stay longer at an organization that listens to and addresses their concerns.
  • People bring ideas:
    HRM manages people, and people bring new skills and ideas and help the growth of business.
  • Quality of work life:
    Quality of work life is a legitimate concern, and that employees have a right to safe, clean, and pleasant surroundings, which is one of the responsibilities of HRM.
  • Upskilling is a long-term interest:
    HRM recognizes the need for continuous learning; talents and skills must be continually refined in the long-term interests of the organization.
  • Employee satisfaction: People have a right to be satisfied by their work, and organizations have a responsibility, and a profit motivation, to try to match their skills with their job.

HR tech and systems

From an HR perspective, there has never been a stronger case for investing in technology solutions to support employees and business operations.

HR has been at the forefront of the pandemic helping guide people through the challenges faced due to Covid and remote working and HR systems have been key.

HR technology has enabled the rapid shift to remote working and has been vital in supporting ‘virtual’ processes such as recruitment and onboarding.


James Cumming is our MD and leads our HR practice. He has recruited senior HR professionals for over 15 years and has experience in finding niche HR talent. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.

Hiring a Business Change professional is the key to running a successful change programme

Some things never change. However, some things have to change for the sake of progression. Without moving forward, we run the risk of becoming stagnant. This is where a change programme comes in.

Business Change can be a complex and challenging undertaking. It could be focused on either a strategic, technological, process or organisational change. However, it shouldn’t be confused with projects or programmes of work. The big difference for me is the breadth and the impact, plus the time it takes to embed the change.

Many senior executives are aggressively trying to transform businesses across the globe. Hoping to cut costs and improve performance by introducing innovative technology and changing behaviours and capabilities throughout organisations.

Although change is an integral factor in the running of a business, according to McKinsey, 70% of change programs will fail. But is this true? They make the case that failure is largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support.


Why do change programs fail?

Businesses spend millions of pounds on new technology, developing highly-skilled programme teams to implement it and setting up new processes and ways of working to create supportive infrastructures. But in many cases adoption rates are low, new ways of working don’t work and businesses don’t get the return on investment they were hoping for. 

This is, in my opinion, due to businesses forgetting something extremely key – people. Unfortunately, management consultants and IT services firms, are paid to get the new operating model or piece of IT in place, it is often not one of their main tasks to focus on the longer term – the people impact.

Any change, whether it be a technological, organisational, or even a minor process change, isn’t a short-term thing, it has to be embedded with the people impacted. To ensure that they truly understand how their day to day working practices will change going forward and to get them on board. It can take time, but it’s so important to ensure the whole company moves to the new way of working.

Change is rarely functional, so the governance has to be right. If you want to see change across functions, the person leading the change has to drive it at the board level with board-level support.

This is where a change expert comes in. “The role of a Change Expert will help stakeholders determine what the final destination actually looks like and then plots the journey to get there.”


A change expert will support stakeholders and sponsors in gaining answers to the following questions:

  • What does the proposed culture look like?
  • Will individuals be bought into the change?
  • What reluctance is expected and how can we manage that?
  • How do we expect employees to behave and what knowledge do we want them to have?
  • Do they see the benefits and are they on board with making it a success?
  • “What does good actually look like?”

They will help plot how that journey will take place and make sure communication is clear. Whilst explaining why you’re making the change, what behaviour is expected and get buy-in from everyone.

The most important part of progression is to truly embrace the change, implementing this can often take a long time and can be a tricky thing to truly embed. To do this effectively, you need People Change experts who can work alongside a client’s internal team to deliver the change. Then, upskill, transition, and embed it, until you and the client are confident that this new approach is working as it should do.


If you decide that a People Change expert is needed – how do you know what to look out for to ensure your change programme is a success?

  • A track record of delivering change related assignments. (Change assignments are typically ambiguous in nature and differ enormously from BAU roles, which are more process orientated).
  • They should be an expert in their chosen field and can demonstrate their success with tangible results.
  • Must come with a pre-prepared kit bag of tools that can be used immediately, with an ability to implement these from day one.
  • They are happy to challenge the status quo, benefitting the client without a personal agenda. (Therefore interim managers shouldn’t be considering permanent appointments).


James Cumming is our MD and leads our Interim Transformation practice. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.

What makes a great HR professional?

HR is always evolving, as is the importance of the function in business. I have worked in the HR industry for over 15 years and still see many of the same topics discussed over and over.

Has anything changed? Here is my take on what makes a great HR professional.

What qualities should an HR professional have?

Develops trust

This quality is probably the most important one that any great professional needs, more so in HR than other functions. The HRD should be a confidant to the CEO and other business leaders, people will only open up to someone they can trust.

The easiest way to alienate an employee population is to create a ‘say do gap’. For HR to be effective, you need to role model the behaviours of the business and the best way to do this is to be consistent and authentic.

Although there is lots of talk that HR should be more strategic, I think the most effective HR practitioners are able to roll their sleeves up too and to really get to know what is going on in the business.


Known as a problem solver

As an HR professional, you will be responsible for solving problems and issues. I hear many stories of people continuously dealing with the same stuff in a reactive fashion… and guess what? That isn’t the best use of time or resources, and it doesn’t demonstrate commercial thinking.  

Once a problem has been identified it is important to get to the root cause of the issue – there are many great books on RCA. The important steps are finding data to back up what is going on and then providing a workable solution.

The role of HR has moved on and can’t only work in coaching/facilitation mode. The best HR professionals I know have an innovative mindset and provide multiple scenarios, solutions, and options to problems.


Knowledgeable

Like any profession you need to have the relevant subject matter knowledge (in this case HR) – for me, this should be a given. HR needs to have a broader understanding of business drivers, and an ability to consider external factors. Things like competitors and the future direction of the sector and bringing ideas into the business from peers or thought leaders.

An easy way to develop this in HR is to read business books (or blogs, vlogs, audiobooks) and to become up to speed with modern concepts such as ‘Netflix – no rules’, OKRs, agile performance management etc. It doesn’t mean that all of these will be suitable or relevant to your business, but business leaders will be up to speed with the concepts and in HR you should have a view.


Understands the business

If you can answer YES to these questions, then it might suggest that you are a commercial HR leader:

  • Could you stand in for the CEO/MD or Operational leader at their next weekly/monthly stand-up or board meeting and give an update on business performance?
  • Could you meet potential clients/investors, give them a thorough understanding of the business, and sell the benefits of your organisation?
  • Do you understand the key drivers of your business and how it drives growth?

Please let me know in the comments section if you think anything else is relevant? I’d be interested to get other views.


James Cumming is our MD and leads our HR practice. He has recruited senior HR professionals for over 15 years and has experience in finding niche HR talent. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.

How HR systems have been key in helping people through the pandemic

From an HR perspective, there has never been a stronger case for investing in technology solutions to support employees and business operations.

HR really has been at the forefront of the pandemic helping guide people through the challenges faced due to Covid and remote working and HR systems have been key.


survey by XpertHR has given some key stats on HR technology through the pandemic:

  • 85% of organisations have a formal HR technology strategy in place, or plan to introduce one over the coming 12 months.
  • 9 in 10 deployed some form of technology to support HR activities.
  • 12% of organisations said they currently do not use any HR technology, with the most common barrier being insufficient resources.

In most organisations surveyed, the HR technology strategy was part of a wider HR strategy, although 1 in 10 said they had a standalone strategy for technology.

Just over a quarter plan to introduce an HR systems and technology strategy over the coming 12 months. Given the conversations I have been having recently I can see this increasing significantly.


Reasons for investing in technology:

  • To increase automation of HR services (81%)
  • To enable employees to access HR via self-service (66.9%)
  • To enable data-driven decision making (66%)
  • To integrate disparate sources of people data (64.6%)

When asked how HR technology use had changed over the past 12 months, HR professionals said it had been deployed to enable the rapid shift to remote working. This has helped to keep employees engaged and connected and recording details of payroll changes especially with regards to furloughed employees.

Technology has also been vital in supporting ‘virtual’ processes such as recruitment and onboarding.


Moving forward, as companies rethink the value of their existing operating models this trend is only going to increase.

James Cumming is our MD and leads our Interim Transformation practice. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.

Your journey to a new HR role

If you’re starting a journey to a new HR role, (or any other role!) then there are lots of things to think about.

We want to break the process down into manageable chunks, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. So, over the next few weeks, we will be updating this page with all the things you need to consider when starting that journey to a new role.

Your personal profile

First things first – your personal profile needs to show you in the right way, your skills and experience as well as your personality. LinkedIn is the number 1 tool recruiters use, and prospective employers are likely to look at your profile, so it’s important you get your LinkedIn profile right and utilise it in your job search.

Here you can not only share your experience and skills but engage with your network and raise your personal profile.

How you can achieve an All-Star profile on LinkedIn:

  • Make sure you have a professional photo – forward-facing, clear background, smiling.
  • Headline – utilise all characters to tell people what it is that you do.
  • Summary – here is your chance to sell yourself (more on this later).
  • Add your location – so you’ll be found in searches for roles in your area.
  • Experience – list your relevant experience, with main achievements.
  • Skills – pick your most relevant skills to showcase.

Here are top tips for successful job searching on LinkedIn from Ellie Rich-Poole – the recruitment coach.

It’s worth checking your settings on LinkedIn to select what is shared and what people see. If you have any other social media accounts, it’s probably a good idea to check the privacy settings on there too.


Your CV is the other part of your personal profile which is crucial to your job search. It’s often the first thing a potential employer sees of you, so you need to make sure you get it right.

Things you can think about before writing or updating your CV include – your biggest achievements, why they should employ you, what you can bring to their company and what desirable skills you have.

  • Demonstrate your skills and experience – commercial success, problem resolution and achievements.
  • Keep it simple – your font and layout are important, simple works best.
  • Don’t be generic –
  • Check and check again for mistakes – anything from spelling and grammar, incorrect contact details or employment dates that don’t add up. It doesn’t give a great impression.
  • Keep it up to date – you should regularly review your CV, so it’s not outdated and make it specific to the roles you’re applying to.

Here are tips on how you can stand out from the crowd with a commercial and impactful CV.


Your summary or personal statement sits at the top of your LinkedIn profile and your CV. This should not be longer than a couple of paragraphs, succinctly showing off your strengths and aspirations. It’s important you keep to the point, market yourself well and reflect the job specification in your statement. Don’t overuse buzz words, waffle or mix the grammatical person – use either first person or third person, but not both!

Transferable skills

Don’t forget that some skills can be applied to any role or company – portable skills could have come from your current role or a past role, educational background or from hobbies or voluntary work. They might help in roles even if it is not obvious at first that they are directly relevant. Having examples of the transferable skills you’ve developed, can help to show you are right for the job.

Here are some examples of transferable skills:

Leadershipstrong interpersonal skills and the ability to inspire others.

Analytical thinking – or problem-solving skills – are desired by businesses, to help solve challenges and problems within the business.

Communication – good communication skills are so important in all roles, as they contribute to smooth operations. These skills include verbal communication, written communication, listening skills, presenting, and negotiating.

Technical skills – it is important to keep up to date with technological advances, so you have at least a basic knowledge of computer systems in a digitally evolving world.

Teamwork – being strong in collaboration, relationship building, communication, motivating, problem-solving and conflict resolution are all key skills to have.

Management – this doesn’t only cover people management, but time management, project management, organisation skills and budgeting too.

All of these transferable skills are important and desired by businesses, so don’t let these be forgotten in your job search planning. Sometimes organisations will use psychometric profile testing in the process to check personality type as well as skills and ability and will measure potential as opposed to just experience.


Networking

Networking can be key in finding that next role, you can get a lot out of networking, whether that’s through online profiles, talking to your networking, reaching out to a wider network or attending networking events.

These points are important to bear in mind before you start networking:

  • Know what you are looking for in terms of the role, the company and the culture. Have an idea of the things that are non-negotiable and the things that
  • Use your existing network  – think about who you already know or have worked with.
  • Create profiles and keep them updated to reach a wider audience.
  • It’s always good to ask for feedback, to check you’re coming across how you want to and so you know if there are areas you can improve on.
  • Get out (or online!) to networking events.

If you find networking intimidating, you don’t need to – here are tips on how to navigate them effectively.

You can gain a wide range of things including:

  • Grow your self-confidence
  • Build long lasting relationships
  • Sharing ideas and creativity
  • Find new opportunites

There are all different kinds of networking events, so find one that suits you! We run a breakfast event – in person and online – which is informal and fun. You can find more info here.

It is worth considering setting up a profile on some of the sites below, with your up-to-date CV, plus any other important info, to broaden your network, so recruiters have a higher chance of finding you.

Total Jobs

CV-library

Jobsite

LinkedIn


Interview tips

Once you make it to the interview stage – well done, it takes some work to get here. Now make sure you do the right preparation work and smash your interview.


  • Make sure you do your research – get to know the business, the role and be prepared to answer questions on both.
  • Dress to impress – find out what their culture is and what is deemed appropriate.
  • Know your CV inside and out, so you can confidently and articulately talk about your background and experience.
  • Be in control – it’s not just them grilling you, you want to find out about the company and find out if it’s the right fit for you.
  • Ask good questions – it is so important to ask the right questions.
  • Practice examples to key questions and prepare your answers using the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action and Result).

Being resilient/dealing with rejection

Unfortunately, it won’t always go the way you want and you will get rejections, which is why being resilient in your job search is important. It is important you control what you can – and realise what you cannot. Getting feedback is always good, so you know what you can improve on.

Many things that affect resilience and that you need to factor into your quest to be more resilient include:

  • Physical energy: falls into 3 categories – sleep, nutrition, exercise.  
  • Emotional intelligence: the higher the intelligence, the higher the resilience.
  • Multitasking: has a direct negative influence on work and negatively impacts resilience.
  • Inner voice: internal commentary can be a negative force.
  • Purpose in life: high purpose in life acts as a protective factor against stress.
  • Recovery: Recovery in all dimensions, agility, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and recovery are dependent on the creation of new individual habit.

You can see more about these tips from organisational psychologist and resilience expert Fran Costello here.

Resilience is closely linked with looking after yourself physically and mentally, so here are some tips on looking after your wellbeing throughout that new career journey.


Your wellbeing throughout

A routine is important for many people as a foundation for good mental health. These simple steps apply in all situations, but between jobs, they are even more important:

  • Start your day well – get dressed, have your normal breakfast, get ready for a working day.
  • Get some direct sunlight.
  • Stick to your regular lunchtimes and eat well.
  • Don’t sit for too long – get up regularly and go for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Even when job hunting set a time to switch off. Close your laptop, enjoy your evening, and continue tomorrow.

Tools that can help:

Mindmental health charity, giving advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

Headspace – a meditation app with a mission:  to improve the health and happiness of the world.

Speak to people – Speak to a family member, friend or loved one, or call the Samaritans on 116 123. Alternatively, you can text Shout to 85258 and a member of their team of crisis volunteers will call you back as soon as they can.

Here is a blog we wrote on managing stress in the workplace.


James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business then please get in touch.

Discover the tactics that head-hunters are using to source talent (and what could be causing you to miss out when you are direct sourcing!)

Discover new tactics that head-hunters are using to source talent: Never ever do something you can’t afford financially or emotionally.

Like giving away all your top tips on how to do your job… for FREE. People will just copy you and you’ll be out of business in no time!

So, shh – don’t tell anyone…

I am kidding, of course, fortunately/unfortunately, no one has found a silver bullet yet for recruitment and it is still a case of time = reward in many ways when it comes to Exec Search. There are some best practices to ensure you get it right.

A very quick recap for anyone that hasn’t Headhunted! Executive search is about being proactive – rather than passively waiting for people to come to you (e.g. via adverts or job boards.) These tips might help you to get it right… feedback appreciated as always.

The brief

Work out the job brief – this is often the trickiest part and should be anything but brief. The aim is to fully understand what the hiring manager needs from the appointment, the must-haves and the areas for push back.

Culture – if you are internal you are likely to already understand the culture of the business – if you are external, I would suggest fully immersing yourself in their culture (retail is a good example where I would suggest visiting stores to get a picture of what it’s really like!)

The story – WHY is just as important as WHAT. You need to understand the bigger picture and where this role fits into things – this will become useful in our approach stage. Get this wrong and you won’t get the right people interested in the appointment.

Defining the role – a job description doesn’t give a full picture of what a job really entails, It might list tasks, but this just doesn’t cut it. Also, it won’t tell a great story.

The push back – the most important part of taking any job brief is the push back. This is a reality check on their expectations vs what is in the external market. This is why many searches fail – whoever has taken the upfront brief hasn’t said NO to unrealistic expectations. Ensure you have data, benchmarking, and a thorough understanding of the candidate landscape before any briefing meeting.

Where will we find the talent?

I will leave the basics of research to another time and focus on the more strategic side of things.

Personally, I believe that one of the biggest mistakes that can be made when hiring is wrongly assuming that the candidate with the exact experience for the role, is the right candidate for the role.

It is important to determine whether you are sourcing for experience, or whether you are taking a more holistic approach to sourcing for future talent – where it is important to place a lot of emphasis on hiring for attitude and potential.

Some top tips:

Keep an open mind on sector experience – For example, retailers have large multi-site workforces, as do restaurant businesses. Restaurant business might have chefs that work in their kitchens – so might pub groups or business services firms such as Compass group.

During your research ask the right questions – for example, if people aren’t interested: do they know anyone who might be interested? Ask who they rate in business and why? Who are the future stars? Who is the best boss they have worked for?

Sometimes you need to kiss a few frogs – in my opinion, if you are retained on an assignment you need to fill it. This sometimes means approaching more people than you might have ever thought necessary! Keep going when it gets tough.

The approach

There are a variety of options when it comes to approaching candidates – email/LinkedIn/telephone. The most important thing is you must be able to sell WHY someone should join your business and what is in it for them – I will repeat this bit as it is often forgotten. The candidate needs to know what they will get from the business, be it development, a great boss, flex working, career development or whatever, it is just as much about them as it is about you checking that they are right for your business.

People are emotional and everyone loves a good story, in fact, there are significant pieces of research that point to storytelling being one of the most sought-after skills required in business over the next five years.

In today’s business environment, where information is out there and candidates have greater choice than ever, it is vital to get this narrative correct, to ensure you build an emotional connection with candidates from the first contact during the research phase.

The follow-through

It’s important to work on building a relationship with the candidate and make them feel valued and wanted. After all, if they are in demand and have more offers on the table, they are going to be more inclined to lean towards the people that make them feel engaged.

Make sure the process isn’t too one-sided and transactional. Of course, any process needs to be robust, from my experience, I would suggest this isn’t the first time someone comes to meet you. This first meeting should be more informal, sense checking their experience but equally selling the opportunity to them.

Once they are fully committed, then you can assess away.

The offer

The offer is the most important part. You must remember that you are dealing with people. People are emotional and are all driven differently.

  • It is important to make people feel wanted! Telling someone WHY you think they would be great in this role and WHY they were the preferred candidate is a great starting point…
  • It is vitally important that you do a thorough search, to take your time to ensure that you hire the right person for the role. Once you have found that ‘right person’ it is important to move quickly, especially in talent short markets (where people might have multiple offers.)
  • Money can be an important motivator to move but isn’t the only reason people accept a role. It is worth exploring fully someone’s total compensation and what is important to them.

-For example, home working and/or 3-4 days a week is more important to some people than a large bonus for example.
-Conversely, base salary might be more important to someone who is the main breadwinner – they might not be financially able to take a cut.
-Ensure you have a full understanding of full compensation including pension contributions, healthcare, LTIPs and paid bonus arrangements. Especially if your extended package doesn’t add up – you may well have to provide a cash equivalent.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business then please get in touch.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Optimising team performance

For our featured blog this week, we caught up with Dani Bacon and Garin Rouch about their new ‘distinction podcast’ series, where they are aiming to bridge the gap between academic research and management practice. The series is based on leadership and remote working and this particular podcast is on ‘optimising team performance’.

Dani was Director of People and Business services at Investors in People, but this year has set up her own consultancy business to help organisations take a more strategic approach with their people and to make their organisations more effective and human.

Garin is an organisation development consultant, he’s been running his own practice for 10 years, but has been an OD consultant for 15 years.

There are a lot of myths around leadership practice. But there is also an enormous amount of good high-quality academic research that leaders could be using in their day-to-day practice. And that HR professionals could be advising their managers to implement on a day-to-day basis as well.

In this podcast they’re looking at teams, and what leaders can do to maximise performance. Dani and Garin have identified five specific actions that you can take away to apply to your work in optimising team performance.



If you’d like to chat with Dani and Garin more about optimising team performance, you can contact them here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business then please get in touch.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Why do executive search consultants always knock internal recruiters out of the park?

Why do executive search consultants always knock internal recruiters out of the park? There’s one very simple answer: they have more time and resource. There is no way that an internal recruiter can do the work an exec consultant can on a role.

Internal recruitment

Internal recruitment can be tough! Most internal recruiters will be running around 25-50 requisitions at any one time. They also do a lot of work around direct sourcing initiatives, talent strategy and hiring metrics. If that wasn’t enough, they might also manage a team and must attend a number of internal meetings.

If you are running 25 searches and using a number of channels to source – even with the help of technology – you are going to be very busy. Also, these jobs will likely be across a number of different job categories and locations, making it more challenging. There isn’t the option to walk away and decide to work with someone else either – they have to fill them all!

Executive Search

As an executive search consultant, I don’t normally run more than 3 roles at once. Plus, we have an internal resourcer to help us in finding those hard to find candidates. I typically spend at least 3 weeks doing research, I’ll then speak to 100+ people for an assignment, meeting with at least 8 of them. There is no way an internal recruiter can justify spending this amount of time on just one assignment.

Many internal recruiters will be much better recruiters than I am, but the one thing that I bet they don’t have is time to focus on every requisition they work on. With what little time they do have, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to do the same amount of work on one vacancy, as it just wouldn’t make commercial sense for them to do that.

Partnership

That’s why the best internal recruiters know the value of having trusted executive search consultants work with them. This allows the internal recruiter to focus on the roles that they can fill quickly and successfully. This Increases candidate experience, reducing time to hire and reducing agency spend.

Our clients often come to us with challenging briefs. Whether they’re not fully defined, are new into the organisation, are confidential or require a discreet search. We can offer them a robust system that enables us to find the best in the market, whilst being approachable and easy to work with.

You can download our eBook – 7 steps to executive search here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business then please get in touch.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.