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The Team at Laudale

How Transport for the North can significantly impact the talent landscape

This week saw Transport for the North propose a new train line that would connect Bradford to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and beyond.  The Northern Powerhouse Rail line is a positive development for the North, and especially Bradford – a city which doesn’t have a through-railway station and which boasts the most youthful population of any UK city.  With almost a quarter of its residents under 16, they are literally the ‘next generation’ of talent, but they also currently reside in a potentially career-inhibiting location.

Of course, it’s not just Bradford which sees these limitations placed on its workforce, with only 10,000 people in the North of England within one hour’s reach of the region’s largest four cities. Journey times are not short, with even a trip between the relatively close cities of Manchester and Liverpool taking 50 minutes and a trip between Leeds and Manchester, clocking in at over an hour.

So what does this mean for attracting talent?

Let’s imagine the best candidate for your role lives in a suburb of Leeds and you’re in Manchester.  You have a few options: the candidate makes that commute every day, the employer accommodates home-working on a very regular basis or the candidate stays over during the working week.

Whichever option you take has both positive and negative implications on that employee’s performance, their wellbeing, understanding of your business culture, and retention.

OK, so you could appoint the second best candidate based in your city – conceding on quality – but this isn’t usually the preferred option (in more ways than one).

As a firm that places talent in the North on a regular basis, we see first-hand the impact of limited transport infrastructure on businesses, and the solutions our clients’ have to adopt to overcome these challenges and secure the right candidate.

Such as

  1. The outstanding candidate for a Manchester-based IT exec role who lives on the other side of Bradford. She secures the role and fulfills it successfully, earmarked to succeed her boss. But after 2 years, even working 1-2 days/week from home, the commute (of just over 37 miles) takes its toll – especially with 2 young children and she opts for a role closer to home.
  2. A market-leading organisation wants a specialist skill-set and cannot compromise quality. The needle in the haystack lives near Rochdale about 39 miles away from the role in Cheshire. A 2 hour drive or a train with 3 changes each way, means the company pays a premium to cover a weekly commute/stay.
  3. A technology leader lives 75 miles away from HQ – a commute that will be do-able if the proposed Northern Powerhouse rail scheme happens. Under the status quo he works from home at least 2 days a week. In a project heavy environment this is less than ideal and, whilst he’s been successful in his post for 4 years, there have been challenges (not least ” if he does 2 days from home, why can’t  I..?)

(We do recruit people who live near work, too, by the way!…)

As open-minded as people are to flexible and remote working, relocating and so on., it’s idealistic to think these options are a reality for everyone, especially those in leadership positions.

The work outlined yesterday by TFN won’t be finished until 2030, with the much heralded HS2 set for completion 2 years after that.  This can’t come soon enough.

Whilst Northerner’s will succeed regardless, there’s no doubt that improved transport will be a game-changer for attracting and retaining talent across the region.

What’s your view? 

Talk to us @LaudaleHQ

 

What’s in a name? – job titles and perceptions

Ever tried to negotiate a new job title only to be told ‘ job titles don’t really mean anything’ if so you’re not alone but is that entirely accurate?

There’s an argument job titles are important because they are all about perception. Think about where your job title appears across your professional life, it’s on your email, your LinkedIn profile, your business card, your name badge if you attend an event, in fact there aren’t many places it doesn’t appear, it is always visible and if it doesn’t represent what you do or who you are that’s a problem.

What employers often mean when they say job titles don’t matter, are they don’t matter internally and that is a more accurate statement. It’s true in most modern businesses that employees are measured by the work they do and the value they bring and not what it says on the second line of their business card, employers are rarely thinking about how the wider market perceives your job title.

However, on the flip side, one of the first things recruiters and hiring managers will consider is your job title. If your current job title accurately demonstrates your seniority, experience and skills then you’re already on the road to being considered.

If you’re an employer, empowering your team to essentially find another job might not sound too appealing but consider this, giving your employee the title they want and the one which represents their place in the market will make them feel valued and if you’re showing the outside world that your business employs talented and experienced professionals with specialist skills then that’s not harmful to your brand either. Most importantly you’re showing your employees you trust them which probably means they’ll want to stay right where they are. Everybody wins.

A truly great employer wants to equip their teams for career progression, if you’re still being told your job title doesn’t matter perhaps it’s time to consider your next move.

Do job titles matter? what’s your view?

Talk to us @LaudaleHQ

IN THE NEWS: Tech-focused executive search company establishes No.1 Spinningfields HQ

This article appeared in Bdaily and Insider North West

 

Executive search firm Laudale is relocating its Manchester headquarters to No.1 Spinningfields.

The company, which focuses on the technology sector, will be based within the WeWork facility at the 19-storey commercial tower.

Established in 2013 by managing director Alec Laurie, today Laudale works with a number of large organisations in the region, among them Shop Direct and Manchester Growth Company. Its client list also includes Manchester City Council.

Last year saw the recruiter add to its team with the appointment of Natalie Asprey in the role of marketing communications manager, and Jonathan Basnett as a consultant for both permanent and interim appointments.

Laudale founder Alec said: “We are a Northern based business with a global reach for talent, more and more we see Manchester is the choice for tech and IT leaders and with our new HQ we’re right at the heart of that.

“It’s an attractive place to be, we’re at an exciting point in our business journey and we’re looking forward to continuing our growth here during 2018 and beyond.”

New Year – No Staff? Turn your focus to staff retention before it’s too late

2 minute read

It’s cold and grey, the festive lights have been switched off for another year and many employees will have returned to work with a lack of motivation and energy, if this seems like an incredibly depressing start to this article then you’d be right but it’s an important time for employers to take a serious look at staff retention.

January is prime time for job seeking with job site Monster reporting that applications grew to 75% above the daily average in January 2017.  Time to reflect on career ambitions and frustrations over the break leaves many employees considering a move at the start of the year.

How can you keep employees engaged and beat the January blues for good?

Communicate with your teams

The start of the year is a great time for goal setting and objectives, use this time to catch up with your team to talk about and reinforce the goals for the business and the part they will play in achieving them. Regular communication with employees is important at any time of year but particularly when motivation might be lacking as it’s a clear demonstration of how their efforts contribute to and important to the overall direction of your business.

Be Flexible

It’s old news that employees just want to be rewarded in the financial sense so don’t assume that a pay increase or bonus will ensure their commitment to your business. Studies have shown that a third of employees would prefer a more flexible approach to working hours than a pay rise so as part of your planning for 2018 consider how you can integrate flexible working into your business – if you haven’t done so before this can seem daunting but with the results of flexible working including higher job satisfaction and a higher standard of work-  it’s an investment worth making for you and your employees.

Focus on goals and development

What would the individuals in your team like to achieve in 2018? If employees are looking for a new role, one of the reasons could be lack of development options or the opportunity to improve. Whilst you can’t just create new roles or hand out promotions you can focus on committing some of your 2018 budget towards training and development or, at the very least, making a concerted effort to support personal growth.  Take the time to discover how your employees are keen to develop and you’ll see the benefit in a higher performing and more engaged workforce.

Recognise achievement and effort 

You’ve put the work in and so have your teams but when you’ve valiantly made it through January don’t forget to recognise and reward accordingly. Typically employees fall into a regular working pattern in the middle weeks of the month however as the end of the month approaches job seeking resumes in earnest making this the perfect time to show your appreciation – a small gesture can create a big impact on your staff retention efforts.

There’s no doubt about it, January can be a tough month however with just a few practical steps you can create a happy and engaged workforce who will want to remain a part of your business well into the New Year and beyond.

What are you doing to motivate your teams this January?

Talk to us @LaudaleHQ

 

A case of the Blues – why there’s a recruitment lesson to be learnt from Everton’s woes

Here at Laudale HQ, we have a couple of Everton fans. We won’t reveal their identities given our Manchester roots, however, the recent managerial woes at the Merseyside club did get us thinking about the risks associated with making senior appointments, and how these risks play out across any industry.

There are two clear lessons from Everton: making a) the wrong appointment and b) a hash of a recruitment process can cause significant reputational damage.

In the case of the blues, that wrong appointment came in the form of Ronald Koeman. We won’t talk about the actual football here but lack of vision and direction, poor or unclear communications, failure to organise and motivate a team, and a fuzzy leadership structure, particularly around the big decisions, are all quoted as reasons for the Dutchman’s downfall.

More worrying was the apparent lack of ‘buy-in’ to the culture of the club, a senior appointment who does not share the values of the organisation is a huge problem but it’s one which can be avoided at recruitment stage.

We think about candidate selection criteria under 3 pillars: competence, character and chemistry.

From a ‘competence’ perspective – experience, skills, and qualifications – Koeman looked like an excellent appointment, but he would no doubt have ticked less boxes for ‘character’ (including motivation) and ‘chemistry’ (including values). He was always clear about what the job meant to him, a stepping stone, he played it straight and stated it wasn’t his dream role from the outset.

Whilst a highly competent candidate will often get short-term results (season Koeman’s first season at Everton), these are rarely enduring if motivation and values are misaligned. A senior appointment with an eye on the door is unlikely to work out in any business, and especially one like Everton, who stated at the outset that the new appointment would be ‘a guardian’ of their strong culture.

The subsequent recruitment process to replace Koeman could have been managed much better, to put it lightly.  Whilst your business and your senior appointments are unlikely to be under the media spotlight to the extent of a Premier League football club, make no mistake, the point still holds: a poor recruitment process will have a reputational impact.

Sam Allardyce (who eventually got the job) went public part way through the search stating that he’s lost interest in the role due to Everton’s indecisiveness.  Candidates talk about their experience and it’s a small world.  Whilst you may be immersed in your business and believe in its values and vision, that’s not always the view from outside.

Football clubs and businesses learn the hard way, through failed or unsuccessful appointments, that the cost of a poor senior hire is detrimental on many levels.  If a senior appointment is critical to your business, then it’s worth engaging specialist advice before you embark on your recruitment journey.

Laudale offers consultancy services specialist expertise in appointing technology & transformation leaders across a range of sectors.

Let’s talk hello@laudale.com

Why employers shouldn’t underestimate the power of ‘wellbeing’

3 minute read

Businesses spend thousands and thousands of pounds on creating the right strategy to deliver results and yet a recent piece of research said that over a third of senior HR staff do not consider employee wellbeing to be an important part of that strategy.

This was despite the fact that the same piece of research found that 51% of HR staff see their employees struggle to concentrate when wellbeing is poor, noticed more sick days are taken and saw an increase in mental health issues.

So why aren’t more businesses and employers embracing wellbeing as part of essential business strategy?

There’s no getting around it, poor staff wellbeing affects the bottom line, through lost productivity, profits, time and resource businesses are losing out by not investing in the wellbeing of their employees. 43% of all working days are lost to ill health, stress accounts for 35% of these days. Absence isn’t the only factor at play, presenteeism for employees who are stressed or suffering from poor mental health costs businesses an estimated £26bn annually so businesses shouldn’t assume if employees are still clocking in that they’re happy or productive in their work.

It’s fairly simple to just start doing ‘wellbeing’ type activities but whilst often delivered with genuine intentions these don’t always mean much to the employees they’re designed to benefit. Don’t let that stop you from buying that pool table for your team or stocking the fridge with beers for 5 pm on Friday but be realistic about how sustainable their impact will be in the long term.

Embracing wellbeing as part of your overall business strategy is challenging because it’s about building real cultural change and not quick wins. It’s about asking the right questions to discover how your employees feel about the working environment you’re providing for them.  How do they feel when they get to work? Are they happy, raring to go or stressed and having difficulty coping? Whatever the answer investing in making your staff feel good about the workplace will set you apart as a great employer with the added benefit of increased productivity and performance.

Wellbeing can seem somewhat of a wishy-washy term, a HR buzzword perhaps but its power in your business is real, and should be ignored at your peril.

What’s your view? Talk to us @LaudaleHQ

5 things Technology leaders want to know about your opportunity

4 minute read

We’ve interviewed 1000s of ‘Business Technology’ leaders (IT Directors, CIOs, CTOs, CDOs, ‘Heads of’, etc.), from which we’ve gained a vast amount of insight.

Interestingly, no matter how many technology leaders we speak to, 9 times out of 10, we are asked a variance of the same handful of questions.

Why is this interesting? Because these questions are rarely answered or addressed by representatives of the hiring company at the first point of contact with a potential candidate.

In a talent scarce market this is a missed opportunity.

By clearly articulating answers to these questions up front you will greatly increase your chances of keeping the best candidates engaged. Weak or no answers to these points simply increases the probability that great candidates lose interest.

Done well, this means that everyone involved in your recruitment process is aligned and can answer questions like the following.

1.What are you trying to achieve with this appointment?
There are many variants on this question that centre around company vision, strategy, objectives, and how you would like technology to contribute. Does the business know what it wants to be? You’re making a significant change by bringing in a technology leader – why? What would you like the outcome to be, and by when?

2. How is the technology function currently perceived by the wider business?
It’s helpful that the candidate knows the current lay-of-the-land and what’s on their prospective customers’ minds. This perception isn’t always negative! The technology function could be flying and therefore it’s important to maintain momentum. Conversely there could be some bridges to build.

3. What level of financial backing and proposed investment in technology is there?
Think about your own position – if you’re being held to account for a function, knowing your budget is a prerequisite. It could be that there’s very little IT spend and the candidate will have to create efficiencies to reinvest. Or you could have a pot of cash. Either way, be clear about this up front.

4. What level of sponsorship and influence will the technology leader have?
Similar to the above point, but separate to financial backing. The incoming technology leader will ultimately make impactful decisions. How are decisions made? Will the successful candidate have access to the exec/board? Who is chiefly behind him or her when making the big calls?

5. How did this position come about?
Very obvious, right? Yet, few job adverts make explicit reference to this, and it’s infrequently clearly articulated at first point of contact. You might be creating a new CTO role to improve tech capability, following new investment. You might be replacing someone who hasn’t worked out. Whichever way the vacancy came about, clearly articulating this up-front is a simple and professional way to start the conversation effectively.

In your experience what else is important to address early on in the recruitment process? Technology leaders: what questions do you want answering before seriously considering an opportunity?

Preparing effectively for a strategic appointment can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful recruitment drive. Laudale help clients to make the key decisions that will shape their approach to recruitment.

Talk to us to find out more

A celebration of men – So What?

2 minute read.

It came to our attention this week that Sunday the 19th of November was International Men’s Day but we could have been forgiven for missing it. There was no Google doodle to mark the occasion, there was no flurry of event invitations to our inbox – you’ll remember of course International Women’s Day, every 8 March rightly celebrated, endorsed by superstars and reported upon across the globe.

No such fuss for International Men’s Day and that’s a problem.

Men have had a bad rap recently, the most powerful country in the world is ruled by a man who seemingly can get away with anything whilst revelations from Hollywood surrounding Weinstein and Spacey to name a few do not help the image of men presented to the world, but these types of men are not the ones International Men’s Day urges us to celebrate or listen to.

The quiet passing of International Men’s Day is exactly what the day seeks to avoid, men don’t talk about their feelings, suicide and drug overdose are more common in men, more men are rough sleepers, male victims of violence and abuse are not adequately supported or provided for. Men are negatively impacted by gender inequalities and stereotypes and it is this which the day serves to highlight.

The day is also one of celebration and appreciation of men, their achievements and positive contribution to society and here’s the good news, there were over 70 events in the UK celebrating International Men’s Day this year (in 2012 there were a dozen events) – one of which was a parliamentary debate , charities including ManKind and CALM ran initiatives to highlight the causes and celebrities including Sarah Millican and Amanda Holden showed their support.

In our business, we see many more men in IT and Tech leadership roles, but we also see initiatives and drivers to encourage change and this a hugely positive thing. It’s this desire to address inequalities and promote change which is the important factor. Men need positive role models as well, men have health and wellbeing needs, men are discriminated against and men provide worthwhile contributions to society, family, marriage, child care and the environment, and that is most definitely worth shouting about.

After all, it’s not equality if we’re only supporting and celebrating 50% of us.

What’s your view on International Men’s Day? Talk to us @LaudaleHQ

Location is a challenge when attracting talent, but it shouldn’t be a blocker…

 2 minute read

When hiring experienced talent, there are many factors that candidates weigh-up in choosing your business and the opportunity over a competitor’s – strategy, business objectives, culture, benefits, values etc.  But even when organisations have the makings of a great company to work for, we still find that location can be a hurdle.

Generally speaking, finding specialist and leadership talent is challenging, and the skills you demand to transform your business are in short supply.  This effect can be magnified if you don’t happen to be based in or around a major economic hub.

So when physically moving or opening new premises isn’t an option, what ‘low-hanging fruit’ can you address to help overcome geographic barriers?

Research & discovery  

Our clients have found that simple groundwork – or a more detailed discovery exercise – prior to beginning a search, provides useful insight on the current state of the local market, and can shape the direction of the search project. What’s the local or regional market for talent like? Which companies are hiring and firing? Where are good candidates going and why? Who’s doing what? What do good candidates know/think about your business? Engaging professional advice in this area can help keep your finger on the talent pulse.

Relocation

People do relocate for jobs and it happens more often than you think.  Think about how prepared you are to compensate your new appointment, whether that’s a relocation package or bumping-up salary and benefits.  More specialist candidates are more likely to relocate for the right assignment, but an incentive to do so will make you much more competitive.  Naturally, the dynamic here is slightly different for permanent and interim. Think about a nationally competitive day rate and/or expenses for interim appointments.

It’s not just about the money… your Employer Brand and onboarding

Company culture is hugely important and arguably even more so if you’re asking someone to relocate. Salary is a big deal, and has always been one of the first things that candidates ask, but effectively marketing your workplace culture and the community around it will help candidates to visualise how they might fit. Also, think about the experience candidates have right through your recruitment process – from initial contact to starting work. Do candidates feel valued?  The companies that do this best aren’t always the usual suspects.  Simple things like great communications, buddy and mentor schemes, simply meeting up socially with new hires before their start date, all pay dividends.

Flexible and remote working 

This is such an obvious one in 2017. It’s easier than ever to connect workplaces through technology.  Furthermore, nearly every great candidate we talk to spends at least one day working from home and/or arrive and leave flexibly. We understand that stakeholder engagement, team leadership and critical meetings are best done face to face.  However, if the right talent is simply in the wrong place, should you really let this be a blocker? Remote working and flexibility are solutions that your competitors are using, and great incentives to attract talent. 

Invest in talent early

You’re already seeing a gap in the skills your business needs, consider investing in existing talent and attracting new hires with the right attitude to learn and cultivate the skills your business needs for the future. By keeping a close eye on your business strategy and effectively pipelining talent, you’ll be aware of what you want to achieve next and who or what you need to achieve it.

Regardless of size or industry all ambitious businesses are aiming to attract the best talent.  Location should not be a blocker to achieving this – don’t start packing the boxes just yet!

What’s your view? Has location impacted your ability to attract the talent you need? Have you benefitted from any of the points above?   

Talk to us @LaudaleHQ

 

How can you ensure successful business transformation? The importance of bridging the ‘strategy to delivery’ gap.

10 minute read

Welcome to the latest edition of Laudale Thoughts in which Suzanne Costella, an independent business strategy, architecture and transformation consultant discusses successful business transformation and how you can bridge the strategy to delivery gap.

Suzanne has 20 years experience leading strategy, architecture and business transformation, working with executive teams at a wide variety of organisations

…………………………………………

Many businesses invest huge resources in defining a ‘brilliant’ strategy or kicking-off major delivery programmes, but then find they don’t achieve the results they anticipated or hit the timescales they had targeted.

Effective Business Transformation is hard…no question, but I will suggest Business Architecture as a really neat way for your business to get maximum value from your transformation, increasing and expediting your revenue and cost goals.

I understand that jargon like ‘architecture’, ‘roadmaps’ or ‘change journeys’ may instantly turn-off some people – you need to find the right language which works for your business.  What I think is really important is that you have an effective method to translate strategy into clear, implementable designs and plans, which all aspects of the organisation are aligned to. Many businesses struggle to bridge this gap, leading to common challenges.

Click here to download this free resource and take the next step to successfully bridging the gap between your strategic goals and the business transformation you implement. 

 

 

 

 

 

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