Executive search – ‘worst-case’ interview scenario?

Everyone gets nervous before an important meeting or interview. It doesn’t matter how much you may have prepared, there are some common intrusive thoughts that always manage to worm their way into your head the night before and cause you to think about possible escape routes should the worst happen. Through our executive search experience, we can help.

But worry not, you don’t need a getaway car parked around the corner to survive an awkward interview. There are tried and tested things that you can do to overcome these embarrassing moments. And who knows, if you flip the situation successfully it could work in your favour and become an example of how you have managed uncomfortable situations.

The person that you are meeting isn’t focused on you

If you notice that the other person is frantically typing on their laptop and hasn’t said in advanced that they may be taking notes or replying to a work email, then your brain may go into overdrive and wonder whether they are mind-numbingly  bored in your presence.

Read the situation and your audience, and if you’re still not confident that you’ve got their attention then politely asking questions to advance the conversation could resolve any worries that you may have. If they need to rearrange to a more appropriate time, then this gives them chance to do so

Being too early can be just as awkward as being too late

When travelling to an interview you can sometimes misjudge the traffic and end up an hour early…. It’s better than being late and although tempting, it might not be the time to show them how keen you are!

The chances are that whoever you are meeting is busy and won’t be sat waiting around for you an hour before (or after) your scheduled appointment, so if you know that you’re going to be too early go and grab a latte and steady your nerves. 15 minutes is plenty early enough to get there.

You forgot your presentation or interview materials

This problem can be easily resolved by planning properly. Try not to rely too heavily on paper materials, which can be misplaced or lost. Instead, ensure that you have an offline copy of your work ready and waiting on your laptop that you will be able to bring up regardless of the wifi situation.

And if your laptop dies, make sure that you’ve sent an email to yourself with all of the key documents on, so you can at least access them on your phone as a last resort. After your meeting, ask the person that you’ve been with if they would like you to email over a copy of any document that you’ve just used so they will be able to access them when reviewing your meeting.

Everybody has at least one awkward interview story, and how you deal with any embarrassment can say a lot about you and how successfully you manage situations. Also, a little bit of humour can go a long way, and we can all be united in our common awkwardness.

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.
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Insider Story – Resourcing Transformation at Gowling WLG

For August’s instalment of Insider’s Story, I met up with not only one of my favourite HR professionals, but one of my favourite people in general, to talk about ‘resourcing transformation’.

The wonderful Jo Franklin, Head of Resourcing for Gowling WLG, agreed to sit down with me and have a chat about the huge ‘resourcing transformation’ journey they have been on.

She explains how they have transformed their resourcing strategy and well and truly stepped out of the ‘Wragge & Co shadow’.

Gowling WLG has been on quite a ride over the past few years…

What was once Wragge & Co, then Wragge, Lawrence Graham & Co, (before joining forces with top Canadian law firm Gowlings) and finally Gowling WLG was born.

Jo joined the business post-merger in the early part of 2016. They had gone from being in the Top 25 to overnight becoming a part of a major international law firm. As a result of this, their resourcing and talent strategies needed some serious development and she was in responsible for resourcing transformation.

“ It was a testing period”, Jo admits “as I joined, three of my most experienced team members were going on maternity leave. All of that knowledge and experience leaving at a time of considerable change!”

The Transformation

The vision was clear; to make Gowling WLG a recognised brand in the marketplace, to compete against the top law firms and to secure the best talent across lateral, business services and early talent.

The perception that the resourcing team was very much an administrative support function was something that Jo wanted to change. As around 60% of the team’s time had been spent on recruitment admin, they wanted to adopt a business partnering approach and get more stakeholder facetime.

Jo says, “We wanted to have a position in the market where we could source directly, because of our reputation.”

To put this into perspective in the legal sector, agency hire rates sits at around 60-70%. Jo had set herself a target of direct sourcing at 60%.

In order to achieve this, the team needed to look at a number of things including Employer Brand, EVP and Internal Engagement.

How did you do it?

One of the key pieces to landing any big transformation is to engage with your people and to take them along on the journey. They wanted to focus on their people, rather than the work they do.

Gowling decided to undertake 360-degree feedback to determine their true employer values.

This consisted of 12 workshops with people across the brand, from trainee to partner level. It also involved leadership interviews and market research to understand what made working at Gowling WLG different and unique.

From this developed an employer value proposition (EVP)framework upon which the new careers site would be based.

Headed up by the team members returning from maternity leave, they employed the service of two specialist agencies to convert their EVP into attraction messaging and built their careers site around this.

In order to meet their own challenging direct sourcing targets (60% of all offers), their social media and direct hiring activity needed to be supported by a creative, informative and content-rich careers website.

This is Gowling WLG’s first full careers site. For several years, the firm has had an early talent website, but the offering for fee earners and business service professionals was limited, and the team was keen to promote their new enhanced apprenticeship programme. Now they have detailed information on the firm, its culture and all the different job families in one place, which is presented in a creative and engaging way.

‘You can’t just tell people what your values are’

A common mistake that many organisations make is just announcing what their Values and EVP are, rather than engaging with people, which can alienate people and leave them feeling unsure of their identity.

Rather than just announcing firm values, it is far more effective to live and breathe them, and they slowly infiltrate into the business as usual.”

There must be a mindset change for any transformation to be implemented successfully.

Jo and her team did this through empowering the people around them.. Rather than focussing on what was wrong with the current approach, they demonstrated how great things really could be by sharing knowledge and helping people to understand that there are other ways of attracting great candidates…

Jo says, “Don’t tell people, let them experience it”

Developing a ‘Dream Team’

Jo recognised that in order to truly provide a value-add service to the business, developing her team’s offering was key.

At the time of joining, their agency spend was substantial…

Due to previously having a limited view of forthcoming requirements, the firm had become used to a reactive approach to recruitment and this was going to be a huge change for them.

Proving the model worked and providing tangible results in the first few months was vital, both in the quality of candidates introduced and time to hire.

One of the key hires to the team was Chris Lake, who had an exceptional track record in direct resourcing, having worked for a legal agency for 6 years prior to joining Gowling WLG.

Jo empowered the team to start taking a more forward-thinking approach. They began to identify and map the key markets within the firm’s key sector areas, understanding the active candidate market but more importantly building a picture of passive candidates that could be developed into a talent audience for the future.

The resourcing advisors started to build trust with key stakeholders and taking time to understand their business objectives and working with managers to plan for skills gaps and provide competitor insight and analysis to build credibility.

‘This wasn’t an original solution’

Now Jo, whilst undeniably fantastic, isn’t a part of some kind of secret recruitment magic circle!

The direct sourcing model isn’t an original solution, however, it’s usage within the legal sector is limited within the Top 100 law firms. In addition to this, varied results and methods are evident across the sector – i.e. direct sourcing limited to business services/non-fee earner roles or paralegal level recruitment in some firms.

What is clear, however, is that Jo has opened her stakeholders’ eyes to ‘what could be’ if they trusted in her and her team.

By really engaging with your people, being armed with knowledge and taking a genuine interest in your stakeholders, you can build fantastic relationships.

This doesn’t necessarily happen over-night. Jo herself will admit it has been in huge part down to her teams’ sheer persistence, determination and energy to truly add value that this transformation has been such a huge success

Where are they now?

12 months after Jo and Chris joined the business, Gowling WLG had succeeded in reducing its cost per hire by 41%. The time to hire for the new direct talent strategy 30% lower than for previous hires through recruitment agencies.

The success has continued with the team meeting their direct hire targets year on year, producing real and credible savings on agency spend, whilst still focusing time on building relationships with their key agencies to help with niche roles. By April 2018, they had exceeded their initial 60% goal.

The team were also delighted to receive a prestigious HR in Law award in May for their careers site, which they are now extending out to their international offices, the first being Dubai.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jo Franklin for taking part in my Insiders Story series! To find out more about life at Gowling WLG, visit their careers page at: https://gowlingwlg.com/en/careers

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here

Shared Services, want to attract the best talent to join your business?

Shared services
Credit: The Office, NBC

I recently published an eBook called “Why Top Performing Shared Services Talent Won’t Join Your Business & What To Do About It”. In this eBook, I explain why it is that big reputable brands (which have world-class shared services centres) still find it difficult to recruit and retain the best talent. Even though these brands may believe that “everyone loves our brand and it’s a nice place to work…” this isn’t necessarily the truth.

Is that the message you are giving off to a passive candidate market?

With over 75% of shared services professionals passively looking (and not actively seeking) a new role, then it’s no wonder that it’s difficult to attract and retain the best talent!

Delivering the right message to shared services professionals

Candidates are being increasingly selective over their future employer, and considering that Monarch Airlines, Carillion, Toys R us, House of Fraser, and Maplin (just to name a few!) have gone into administration during the past year, why would you want to leave your cushy job where you’ve worked for years, and where Betty knows how to make the perfect cup of tea, for somewhere that isn’t as secure and may be at risk of joining all of the companies mentioned in the previous sentence?

It’s important that shared services give off the right message, follow the right process and keep up with their competitors when it comes to recruiting.

The most desired Shared Services assignments in the past 12 months that I’ve managed have been within newly created roles. But why is this?

Is it because there isn’t an expectation there, or because they feel the company are performing well by creating these new roles?

Newly created positions offer a chance for candidates to put their stamp on a role and make it their own. As these positions are created due to demand for a certain skillset within a business, they also provide candidates with a sense of feeling wanted and allows them to see these roles as a challenge and the chance to pursue something new.

It’s all about how you deliver the message, and how this message is perceived by your potential future employees!

So the big question is, how do you excite people to work for your shared service centre if the role is replacing someone who lacked motivation, was bored and didn’t enjoy coming into work….

It’s all in your message.

How you get this right in your Shared Services team!

And I have just the thing that can help you with this… In my free eBook, I examine the steps you can take to stay ahead in the field.

If you would like your free copy, email me at sam@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here

What makes a successful HR business partner?

A HR business partner as successful as batman and superman
What makes a successful HR business partner?

HR has seen quite a change over the past few years, thanks to the introduction of new technologies and changing cultural attitudes. So it makes sense that the qualities of a successful HR business partner may have gone through a similar metamorphosis since Ulrich first introduced the concept.

 

These days more focus is needed on how they add value to a company. But you can’t just go from being traditional HR to HR business partner overnight, as a completely different set of attitudes, beliefs and skills are required to pull off this role.

So, what exactly makes a successful HR business partner (HRBP)?

  • A well-rounded knowledge base. As the job description for a HR business manager has become all-encompassing, the knowledge base of a HRBP must be as well. Similar to a typical HR manager, a HRBP should have a sound understanding of the law so that the company they work for understands their legal obligations to their employees. Additionally, a basic understanding of psychology is also beneficial as the role now entails more interaction directly with employees.
  • Business-minded. Originally the key characteristic of a HRBP is that they were someone who understood a company’s financial goals and worked to create solutions for HR-focused issues. This characteristic still remains highly important in a modern day HRBP, as without a clear business focus and understanding, a HRBP is not adding value.
  • People skills. Now that this role involves more interaction with employees, it means that a HRBP needs engaging social skills. There’s no point in having great ideas if you can’t sell them and communicate them effectively. If the right person is in the role, then they will be able to enable employees to feel safe and motivated in their workplace and more open to change.
  • Self-belief. If you don’t believe in the impact that HR can have on a business or your own influencing skills, then why should other people? If a business is going to reach its targets, everyone in that business needs to believe that they can make a difference. And those differences start with HR!

A change in the role of HRBP

There has been a huge change in the role of HRBP’s today compared to the same role a few years ago. HR was previously considered an extra department that was nice to have a security blanket for everyone else. Now, HR is essential, and businesses are missing out if they do not adopt this new approach.

Convincing people that ‘HR business partner’ is more than just the latest buzzword means being able to demonstrate value in your work, and with the correct skills and attitudes, the benefits that you can bring to a business are truly limitless.

There is still plenty of debate around what makes a successful HR business partner

There is plenty of resource to help you form your own opinion:

Hiring commercial HRBP’s can be especially difficult, if you are having issues please contact me to discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk

You can view more about James Cumming our HR, Change and Business Transformation specialist here

HR consultants – how do you beat stress?

HR consultants - how do you beat stress?
Beverly Hills 90210, Fox Broadcasting Company

Ahh, stress. It’s something that unites us all regardless of occupation or lifestyle. For HR consultants, life can be very busy and things happen which totally change your plan for the day.

 

One bad email can be all that it takes to set it off, and then next thing you know you’re awake at 3AM unable to sleep. We can’t always avoid stress, but we can work on improving how we respond to it. The good news here is that just as we have a stress response; we also have useful relaxation responses that we can call to action at any sign of trouble – perfect for all busy HR consultants.

 

Go for a walk

Getting away from your desk and moving around can help clear your head, and thanks to something called ‘involuntary attention’, walking around a green open space can actually put your body into a state of meditation. Meaning that when you return back to work, you’ve been able to reflect on your day and see everything with a fresh pair of eyes.

 

Eat a snack

Stress eating isn’t all bad – it just depends on what you reach for in the fridge! Pick something that will fill you up and not just give you a sugar rush for an hour, as feeling like you’ve run out of nourishment can actually contribute to a feeling of stress. Whilst it’s tempting to reach for Redbull and a Mars Bar, these foods can be counter-productive! Foods great for concentration include avocados, nuts, complex carbs such as brown rice and sweet potato and dark chocolate are great options

 

Put a record on

Or a Spotify playlist, depending on what’s available to you in your office. Classical music may seem like the most obvious option for destressing, however, any music that you love will have the same effect and flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals. My personal favourites are Kisstory or an 80’s playlist.

 

Chew some gum

Not only does this ensure minty-fresh breath, but studies have also shown that chewing gum can actually relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress when multitasking – a win-win for anyone that loves gum as much as I do.

 

Have a nap

Another technique that is popular with companies such as Google and Nike is the power nap. Research has shown that when people are able to take a power nap at work, they encounter fewer feelings of stress, have better cognitive response rates and improved memory.

 

As a HR consultant, do you have any tips on how to relieve stress? Let me know in the comments below.

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.

Merger & acquisitions: What should HR consider?

Merger & acquisitions: What should HR consider?

One of the most challenging tasks for an HR professional is managing a merger and acquisition (M&A). As every phase is filled with potential risk for a business, as well as creating doubt and anxiety for employees. So, during merger & acquisitions: What should HR consider?

Get involved from the beginning
Sometimes HR can get involved in an M&A at the last phase but that can often be too late. If HR are involved from the beginning, they will be able to quantify the financial aspect of the people issues. It is especially worth considering certain hidden costs, such as pensions and benefits.

Nurture
When you merge or acquire another business, changes to the business are sure to occur. It is important to consider Integration vs Transformation. Make sure that there is a clear people plan, especially for those that need to be retained, ensure these relationships are nurtured and they feel secure. One of the major reasons an acquisition fails is due to losing key employees and the information they hold.

Strategy
Ensure that there is a definite strategy in place to integrate or transform the businesses post-acquisition. Allowing everyone to be prepared for if/when the deal occurs. These days technology will play a significant role in peoples productivity but it is one of the key area’s that can be forgotten.

Culture
It is imperative to mesh the cultures of the two businesses at a senior leadership level. It is HR’s role to ensure there is sufficient understanding and buy-in at the top, about the pitfalls of not addressing this at an early stage.

Don’t Fear Change
Change is something that is feared by most. Especially within an M&A, as it creates uncertainty. Again, HR is key in helping to smooth out the transition for employees. This can be done by calming fears, driving authentic leadership and being transparent about the change.

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

Can you give a bad reference?

Can you give a bad reference?

Everyone dreams of being the boss one day or of obtaining that dream job. One part of this dream, that you don’t always think about, is having a team and having to give references. But what if you have a bad employee? Can you give a bad reference? Will you get sued if you do? Could you just give them a “neutral” reference?

A “neutral” reference is one where only the dates of service and title are given. Many businesses have now implemented a policy of only giving “neutral” references. It is a policy that is backed legally and allows a business to avoid being sued. It seems to be especially useful to give this kind of reference for bad employees. From the perspective of a recruiter, this type of reference could be the difference between you and another candidate getting a job. However, there appears to be a way of being honest and still remaining on the good side of legality, below we have listed five ways to do just that.

1. If you cannot honestly recommend an employee for a new role then it would be best to let them know. This allows them time to ask someone else or forewarns them of what is going to happen.

2. If the employee in question worked for you for more than a couple years ago, then you can decline, on the basis that they worked for you so long ago. Thus, you cannot remember what work they did for you and that your reference will then be invalid.

3. You may decide to still give a “neutral” reference but be ready for a reference checker to ask whether this is the policy of the company or just for this candidate.

4. You may sympathise with the manager and decide to be honest. However, ensure that you remain factual and objective.

5. Lastly, ensure that your employees know where you stand on their work. This will give them a good indicator of what to expect from your reference.

References can be a minefield at times but, if you stick to these simple methods, you can ensure that everyone remains happy and informed.

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.