Executive Grapevine: The Panel Debate – What effect will Brexit have on talent management and the need for interim executive leadership? 

In a year where the war for talent will feel very real to many of us, we are seeing unprecedented levels of opportunity and threat simultaneously. 

Due to Brexit, IR35 tax reform and the ebb and flow of the gig economy, workforce flexibility and the capability to access both programme management delivery and leadership expertise on demand has rarely been higher.

In last year’s Interim Guide, we made several predictions that have mostly proved to be accurate based on the annual performance of the interim market. We witnessed retrenchment across certain markets as well as the continued trend for management consultants to be replaced with handpicked interims to avoid the “double margin” through the delivery of management consultancy in change and IT programmes.

We do however face a few genuine threats that as an industry, we cannot ignore. Firstly, the rise of direct social media recruiting has meant an increase in the number of self-proclaimed experts who, without thorough and expert vetting, walk into roles they’re under-qualified for. Their subsequent poor performance threatens the reputation and value of our industry’s role as credible solution providers.

Secondly, the supply of top-level interims in the UK is dwindling. Yes, every week there are aspirant newcomers to the fold, however the most seasoned and valuable interim leaders are becoming harder and harder to pre-book and engage; and even the best new entrants are yet to have the seasoning years of independently validated delivery to ensure a credible and risk-free proposition for customers to invest in.

The new war for the best talent has already started and those recruiting deep market specialisms without the leverage of relationship capital or a compelling value proposition, are going to struggle. We are way past thinking a generous day rate will secure the best talent – in fact I have no doubt, talent acquisition teams who don’t modernise their thinking or partner with experts will become the first of its casualties.

What effect will Brexit have on talent management and the need for interim executive leadership? 

Despite much speculation surrounding Brexit and its effects on the UK talent market, the executive interim industry remains largely unperturbed. Where other areas of the recruitment industry may feel the blow of reduced hiring due to a turbulent economy, interim managers are likely to reap the rewards. In a market downturn, organisations will be looking to reduce overheads by increasing operational efficiency. Those reluctant to make long-term decisions during a period of uncertain financial forecasts will need a short-term solution to continue delivery: enter interims.

Additionally, the transformation agenda has been an overriding theme of the last few years and UK organisations will need to put their best foot forward to compete in the global marketplace. This will mean ramping up the pace and volume of their transformation projects, where we are already seeing huge demand and an increasing perception of value in the use of skilled interim talent.

This is all great news for interim managers, however, it does make the role of interim management providers somewhat tricky. Between the exodus of EU talent and the introduction of IR35 into the private sector driving interims to take permanent positions, the gap between interim demand and interim supply will worsen. Providers that succeed in plugging the gap and reaping the rewards of increased interim demand will have extensive and diverse networks, with whom their consultants have deep-seated and trusted relationships. This is something we pride ourselves on at Green Park, having been moving the diversity dial and setting a new benchmark for customer care since our inception in 2006.

Additionally, organisations will require attractive employee value propositions to compete for top talent, interim or permanent, and will also need to align themselves with executive talent providers that have the insight and know-how to recognise and leverage this, as well as mitigate risk where necessary.

Successful providers will be those with collaborative internal cultures that breed innovative approaches to problem-solving as organisations require an increasingly consultative talent partner to manage and deliver their people strategy and overall business objectives.

At Green Park, we have been growing our team, investing in our infrastructure and realigning our organisational design to offer a flexible, cross-functional best team and client-centric approach to our people recruitment and management solutions.

If you want to transform, why is an interim a good choice?

It’s clear that bringing in an interim manager has paid huge dividends at Manchester United FC so far. Following a disappointing run for the club under former manager Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjær coached Man United to six wins in their first six games under his charge.

According to goalkeeper David de Gea, Gunnar Solskjær’s appointment as caretaker manager has brought the ‘real and legendary Manchester United’ back.

When handled well, the ‘interim effect’ can help to revitalise a jaded team that has stopped thinking it can succeed. A fresh pair of eyes can spot potential and bring players who were being overlooked to the forefront.

A new way of thinking can unlock collaborative approaches to problem-solving, rather than doggedly sticking to ‘the way we’ve always done it’. And the team themselves see the appointment of an interim manager as an opportunity to shine for a new leader, who may choose them for new projects or challenges.

The right interim manager can also bring experience to bear that has been learned elsewhere. Gunnar Solskjær played for Man United, so he understands the passion that players and fans have for the club but has also managed teams in his native Norway as well as the UK.

However, should his tenure work out by the end of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjær is a great example of why interim is a good choice when you want to transform.

 We need to think differently about workforce talent – Think Interim: Think Green Park

 

This content was published in the Executive Grapevine Guide to Interim Management 2019. For the full guide, click here.