Hybrid Harmony: A New Way

Given the issues outlaid in my previous article, an executive looking for a step up in their career (either actively or passively) might feel that there is little hope in finding the right role with the right company, with the right culture, with the right remuneration, et cetera; but why do both Executive Search and recruitment companies have to leave aspiring leaders of tomorrow with such doubt of fulfilling their potential? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a new way of doing business that not only looked after client company interests, but candidate needs too? What would a company aspiring to lead the organisational consultancy revolution look like though?

Firstly, it would have to understand the resources available in today’s world: that means a comprehension of the technology of now and knowing when it’s best to utilise it. An example of this would be implementing ‘Data science-driven algorithms to find and assess job candidates’[1] to speed up the time finding you. On the flipside, it’s also about understanding the limits of such technology as ‘Data science…is still in its infancy when it comes to recruiting and hiring’[2] because ‘Data scientists seem to know so little about the context of employment’[3]. This means a forward thinking company might want to incorporate some kind of machine-learning capability into their automated process so that their software can constantly improve its search ability so as to avoid missing out on finding potentially exciting new candidates.

With technology sorted, how would our ideal company best be set up on the human side of things? – after all, both the Executive Search and recruitment sectors are all about human interactions. I posit the following:

· The company would be a hybrid model of an Executive Search firm and a recruitment agency, whereby a plethora of candidates would be found to fill top to bottom positions: those ready to step up to great leadership heights today and those that will be ready to lead next year, in five years or even in ten years’ time.

· Lateral moves would not be prioritised: the focus of the company should not be to move around executives from a pool of companies in a sideways fashion simply to generate revenue, but to go the extra mile for those being served. Sure, getting a small pay rise for a candidate to do a similar job seems enticing in terms of billing fees, but what if a current executive actually wants to move to work on bigger projects or to attain more responsibility? Churning commission is bad business as it keeps the talent pool stale and stops everyone in the food chain from achieving their potential.

· The ideal company would treat candidates the same way that Executive Search firms treat their clients. An incoming executive might be perfect for a company, but is the company perfect for the new manager? More time should be spent identifying what it is someone seeking a new role wants and how best to meet those needs rather than trying to shove a square peg in a round hole.

· A complete stop to wasting a person’s time. Nothing is more demoralising than being promised how great the grass is elsewhere to find out the person on the end of the phone has nothing lined up and will likely not talk to you till a few months’ time, whereby they will have a superficial offer of a step up and no guarantees. The ideal company should recognise talent and then make it a priority to work with that person to get them what they want with constant updates and feedback on the process as it develops.

· Due to an ‘Unprecedented technological churn’[4], a lot of people at the top are finding it ‘Inherently much more difficult to predict exactly where the next generation of jobs will pop up’[5]. This means that executives that are thriving or have thrived in one role may have no idea what their next move is – especially if they have just finished their tenure at one company and are out of any industry for even a short time. To this end, pro bono coaching should be on offer to ensure that intelligent, hard working people are not left to stagnate, but, instead, find a next step that complements their abilities and allows them to produce their best both at the interview stage and after they have been successfully onboarded to their new company.

A lot of these suggestions might seem surreal in an individualistic world which tells you that disruption to others is the key to the future. Let’s think logically about this though: if you offer an amazing service to both your client companies and candidates new and old, they’ll both be back for more. Conducting good business means creating good business. What about competition though? What about them? I referenced, in my previous article, the idea of ‘Duplicated recruiting investments’[6] when having to find a replacement for a new manager that was hired without care. Imagine a business having to hire multiple times because they picked Executive Search firms without their best interests at heart and that just wanted to ramrod any old candidate into a role. When businesses have this experience, they don’t want it again; so if everybody in the market knows which company will deliver based on the fact they prioritise getting the best result for everyone involved, they’re not going to go elsewhere and that company will soon disrupt everyone else in the field. To that end, it just seems time for a company like the ideal described above to step onto the big stage to give the Executive Search and recruitment industries a big kick up the backside. It’s been a long time coming that these sectors have desperately needed to get back to the basics of doing good business; so let’s hope that forward thinking firms can set a good example of reform for the rest or I predict that they’ll be a sharp decline in the want of organisational consultancy because clients and candidates alike will get fed up of the same old bad business shtick.


[1] No author, Data Science Can’t Fix Hiring (Yet), Harvard Business Review, May-June, (Boston: Harvard Business Publishing 2019), 56. [2]Ibid. [3]Ibid. [4] Steve Cadigan, Rethinking Talent Recruitment, Forbes, (New York: Forbes Media, 2018). [5]Ibid. [6] No author, Minimize Risk, aesc.org, (New York: AESC, 2019).