Executive Recruitment 2019: New Challenges, New Solutions

15 July, 2019

By Fabio Sola, Director of PRAXI Alliance

This past May, we held our 2019 Spring Summit in Vienna, where members took on today’s most pressing challenges in HR and Executive Recruitment.

We had the pleasure of hosting an insightful panel with some of our Austrian clients.  

Panel moderator: Martin Mayer, Managing Director at Iventa

  • Doris Tomanek, Board of Human Capital at UNICREDIT BANK AUSTRIA AG
  • Silvia Buchinger, Project Manager at BOOKING.COM
  • Werner Stix, Managing Director at J. U. A. FRISCHEIS GMBH
  • Manfred Mahrle, MD & CFO Region SEE at B. BRAUN AUSTRIA GES. M.B.H.
  • Wilhelm Sterl, Head of Human Resources Group at IMMOFINANZ AG

As globalization and talent mobility disrupt the global economy in a more systematic way, core competencies such as adaptability and change management take top priority. Leaders are expected to build trust despite differences in cultural and work place values, with the number one objective being to fight rigidity and resistance to change in order to accelerate large and mid-sized corporate evolution.

Another recent challenge is the talent shortage. The quality of Talent and specialization are deciding factors among companies worldwide. So much so that investments are being held back due to the lack of an adequate talent pool. This phenomenon stretches across the board since it touches all roles from executives and IT figures to mechatronic engineers, craftsmen and leather suppliers. It affects countries with low unemployment such as the United States, Romania and Thailand, as well as higher unemployment rate markets, like Italy and Spain.

Most shocking is that a high unemployment rate is linked more to a misalignment of skills between market demand and supply (competence mismatching) than to the respective economic situation. For this reason, even in countries with a 10% unemployment rate, companies still struggle to find talent, and internal training initiatives are unable to fill these gaps given the short-term urgency.

The main effect of the talent shortage is seen in the extended time-to-hire rate. However, companies are now facing what could be a far more dangerous consequence when pressed to find specific skills: technical background and knowledge are favored over transversal characteristics, or “soft skills”. This is having a boomerang effect, where the lack of managerial skills and aligned value systems are only clear post-hire. Tom Connolly, CEO of Gatti HR (US) comments, “People are hired for CV, but fired for personality.”

When change is rapid, transversal finesse becomes critical to success, especially with regard to newly defined professional skills and business areas. In this case it’s best to select profiles that possess the right foundation and experience (especially for managerial and executive level profiles) as softer skills really make the difference.

In such a complex scenario -not limited to tech!- a sound selection process becomes even more crucial. A mere search for the perfect match between CV and job description cannot work, and all stakeholders must balance technical knowledge with organizational and business acumen. To win the game, hiring managers must be able to work backwards from the business goal and plan to a person capable of achieving it, through a 360° assessment of each candidate’s  background, transversal skills, values and personal motivations.

The relationship between the leaders of the recruitment process (internal or external) and the client all needs to change. If the “perfect” person (often non-existent!) for the leadership position is not found, repeating the search is often not the right solution. A soul searching review of the business objective and profile is usually a better starting point.

These are the hottest trends in a period of rapid and revolutionary change. One thing is certain, disruption has taken hold of executive recruitment, marking the beginning of a new era.

Here is the intro to the panel discussion, see full lengh video here.

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