finnCap Group is partnered with VÖR International, a firm at the forefront of truly holistic talent management.  VÖR International supports businesses in accessing high quality talent at either CEO or C-Suite level, to provide strategists that think outside the box, get to the heart of client companies’ future strategic plans and drive growth. In this article, co-authored by our partners at VÖR International, we look at how talent is a vital consideration in what is currently a critical time.

Leaving lockdown has been a pertinent time for management teams. Businesses have found themselves in a variety of scenarios that they probably hadn’t considered before. Many reverted to survival mode, focused on cashflow; some were treading water; others found new ways to thrive.

With that in mind, now is the right time for the right person to lead the charge. For many, company senior managements’ strategies for future growth are likely to be wildly different from what they were a couple of months ago. There will be skills gaps that have opened up that would have been very difficult to anticipate even at the start of this crisis.

For better or worse, COVID has focused companies’ attitude to growth. For example, companies at this time are becoming more focused on event planning and getting the business in shape for those events.

Indeed, to look at things more laterally, the rapid onset of events of the last half year has made companies in the VC/PE space realise that their C-suite recruitment plans need to be accelerated – they should be organising this now. Six months to get the right people (C-Suite) on board, a further six months for them to get up to speed.  One to two years of getting comfortable and driving the business forward and potentially into sale mode, which can also take up to two years.  VOR International is identifying the C-suite of people that are finishing exits to VC/PE now and want to do it again, these are people that are known to the VC/PE potential acquirers and have the right relationships.

Can you deliver on reformed strategy?

It is undeniable that COVID-19 has changed our working world.

Forced remote working has enabled us to review our day to day business practices, assess what is important to ourselves and our teams, and reprioritise or pivot business strategies.

As we emerge from this current crisis with a renewed vision the question is whether the right talent and skills are in place to deliver the strategies to take the business forward.

Great management teams drive business growth and now more than ever leaders need to think outside the box, be swift to adapt and accommodate change. Gaining a true understanding of a client’s needs and their future strategy means ensuring that the right person is introduced – or the incumbent CEO given the right supplementary support – at the right time for the business.

With executive coaching support, that person should be able to make a big impact and integrate seamlessly.  As such, focused talent management provides the best possible and long-lasting fit for the business to support a client’s growth and development.

Discovering where new talent lies

If new talent is indeed required, the biggest consideration is of course where to find it. What’s interesting is that this crisis, in closing a number of metaphorical doors, has also opened some new ones.

While unfortunately this crisis has brought about dire consequences for some businesses – leisure and hospitality, travel and aviation, retail and personal grooming being notable victims here – this can provide opportunities for individuals with new businesses, as well as open up a new talent pool to businesses looking to scale.

Forced remote working has given rise to more flexible working and this in turn opens up further possibilities for female talent who may have been restricted to advancing their careers in the past due to required inflexible office hours. As the working environment adapts, the female talent pool is therefore clearly the one to tap.

The returning to work population who have for so long wanted to work, but felt it was difficult to fit around their demanding personal lives will be energised by current events.  It is likely that video conferencing, over face-to-face meetings, will become a permanent fixture. Subsequently, this will make hiring top returning talent considerably easier and more fruitful, as a more diverse set of people will have greater opportunities to put their heads above the parapet. 

Lead time to hire presents a gap

A key consideration right now, especially given the pace of change, is that hiring C-suite takes time.

The best talent is likely to already be employed and will subsequently have a notice period (which is three months on average).  The lead time from initial engagement to the hire walking through the door is normally five to six months. As such, businesses need to be thinking ahead at what they need in advance of it happening to ensure the business growth doesn’t slow.

For example, a business looking for growth capital will be allocating a proportion of that capital to finding new or upgrading hires. Identifying the talent you want to hire, post capital injection, ensures that you keep the pace of growth going.

Motivation and incentivisation

Extreme times call for extreme measures. Over the past few months businesses have had to forecast and reforecast several times as well as trim costs in order to navigate through this crisis. This has led to team members being furloughed and salary cuts across the board. So as we emerge through the crisis, will we see a monetary escalation in salary offers?  Or will more purpose-led businesses be in a position to leverage talent through offering a more flexible work-life balance?

Of course, money is a by-product of a successful career.  We are entering a new existence of people working more flexibly or remotely. As a result, talent will be harder to micro-manage and will have to be given more trust to achieve their tasks in a remote environment. 

For example, a business looking for growth capital will be allocating a proportion of that capital to finding new or upgrading hires. Identifying the talent you want to hire, post capital injection, ensures that you keep the pace of growth going.
So, how do you develop talent remotely?  Principally, you need to look after them and help them succeed, provide access remote courses or mentoring programmes, offer more holistic support to development and a more accepting approach to failure from trying to succeed and develop (that old adage, you only learn from your mistakes).

The other consequence of remote working is in the emotional support of a virtual workforce. The longer term effects on mental health and how social interaction and stimulation plays its part. To ensure a successful business in a remote environment, the senior management needs to understand the mental health effects on employees.  They are going to need support through people that are able to listen and understand their workforces’ needs.  Does everyone have 30 minutes a week with a psychiatrist? Does everyone start their day with team well-being session? Should there be more away days? Should there be more rewards schemes that extend beyond the financial?

It’s not so much financial incentive versus cultural reform, rather, firms that offer only financial incentives will lose out on talent to those that have refocused on building social bonds, and creating and working towards a shared vision between employees around the company group, as well as individual performance.

Leaders that can articulate this kind of outlook will be hot property and it has already given rise to companies that recruit on emotional intelligence and an overarching purpose. In times of uncertainty and in light of the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, this kind of thinking offers something steadfast to employees and creates a deeper sense of loyalty.

Clearly the people management priorities for leaders, post-pandemic, will have shifted in similarly dramatic ways to their strategic shifts. The pandemic has shone the spotlight on employee needs that go beyond what’s on their desks or in their pockets – humans are social animals that relish connection. Employers that treat their workforce well not only in financial terms, but also on an empathetic level, are revered and further recommended. The company leaders who possess a purpose-driven, compassionate attitude towards the people they manage will be the winners in the new era. They will find that developing an empathic culture will attract the best talent for them to grow and nurture and they will find themselves at the centre of a thriving company.