When engaging in Executive Search, the main goal for most is to find the right employee for your team. However, throughout the Executive Search process many advantages evolve as a result of the thorough market survey / market analysis that takes place.

Insights are obtained through a deep dive into the market's talent pool as well as interviewing and engaging with key executives and leaders within the industries. This provides the client and the firm with extensive information about salary levels, employment conditions, company reputation, DEI, competitor analysis, and much more. The knowledge, information and insights that are discovered during the process prove to be highly valuable.

Five advantages of Market Analysis in Executive Search

One of the primary benefits of conducting a market analysis is obtaining up-to-date information on salary levels and employment conditions within the industry for specific profiles. This data ensures that your compensation packages are competitive, which is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent.

By engaging with market opinion leaders and senior management, we can gauge the reputation of the client company. This feedback is invaluable for assessing the company’s attractiveness as an employer and informs the employer branding strategy. For instance, if a company is perceived negatively, strategic measures can be taken to improve its image.

A thorough market analysis provides insights into the diversity of profiles in the market. This helps in understanding the current state of diversity within the industry and aids in formulating effective DEI strategies. Companies can then position themselves as inclusive and equitable workplaces, enhancing their appeal to a broader range of candidates.

The information gathered during a market analysis can be leveraged for future internal recruitment. Understanding the talent landscape helps in anticipating recruitment needs and hereby understanding how to increase retention rate, improve and promote career development etc.

By analyzing competitors, you can understand what they are doing to retain their best employees. This includes their retention strategies, career development opportunities, and overall job satisfaction levels. Armed with this information, your company can develop superior strategies to attract and retain top talent. This also includes identifying what motivates or dissatisfies employees in similar roles elsewhere can help in crafting more appealing job roles and work environments.

Recently, we held our Spring Conference in The Hague which aimed to ignite creativity, foster collaboration, and empower our teams to drive meaningful change.

Our conference provided a unique opportunity for colleagues from different counties and disciplines to come together, share perspectives, and collaborate on projects. Through interactive workshops, team-building exercises, and cross-functional brainstorming sessions, we gained a deeper understanding of each other's roles, strengths, and challenges. This collaborative spirit laid the foundation for future partnerships and synergies across the organization.

Spotlight on Employee Innovation:

At the heart of our conference was a celebration of innovation. We discussed our latest projects and initiatives aimed at improving processes, and delivering consistently outstanding results to our clients. The breadth and depth of talent within our organization was on full display, inspiring us all to push the boundaries of what's possible.

Driving Alignment with Company Strategy:

Effective communication and alignment around company goals are essential for driving collective action and achieving meaningful results. Throughout the conference, our company's vision, mission, and strategic priorities were reiterated, providing clarity and direction for us all. Interactive sessions allowed us to map our projects and initiatives to overarching business objectives, ensuring that everyone was aligned and working towards a common purpose.

Fostering a Culture of Innovation:

Innovation thrives in environments where creativity is encouraged, failure is viewed as a learning opportunity, and experimentation is celebrated. Our conference served as a catalyst for nurturing such a culture within our organization. Through thought-provoking discussions, and hands-on activities, we were encouraged to embrace a mindset of curiosity, resilience, and adaptability, laying the groundwork for future success.

Our internal conference was a resounding success, fueling excitement, creativity, and collaboration across our organization. As we reflect on the insights gained and connections forged, we are energized by the possibilities that lie ahead.

Armed with new ideas, skills, and perspectives, we are ready to embark on the next phase of our journey, united in our commitment to driving innovation, delivering results, and shaping a brighter future for our company and clients alike.

We spoke with Małgorzata Kulis VP, Managing Director and Katarzyna Skorupka-Podziewska, People & Culture Director at Volvo Trucks, Poland.

Volvo Trucks is a world-leading truck manufacturer, committed to drive progress and shape the future landscape of sustainable transports. 

Małgorzata, it has been almost 12 years since you joined Volvo Trucks Poland as a Managing Director. Has the company changed during that time?

Małgorzata: Completely! 12 years is a long time, and today we are totally different. I joined an organization managed in a directive manner, organized in silos, where information was treated as an asset to build an advantage to maneuver within the company. Few people understood why I, a woman, with no technical knowledge of trucks, suddenly became the Managing Director. I had to deal with some problems and the reluctance of others, who did not believe that a woman in a truck business could survive in the long -term, but I managed. Let me remind you that the concept of diversity was not that strongly promoted at that time, and I joined what was a very macho business.

Much time has now passed, and we have made many collective changes to become a great organization today, balancing experience with new generations, more women, as well as activating engagement of individuals to fight jointly for the company goals.

What has been most important in this transformation?

Małgorzata: Building a culture of open communication and trust. It's a long process, but it has paid off in many ways. I didn't know about the technicalities of the trucks, but I knew how to deal with people. Today, we are all proud of the community Volvo Trucks Poland creates, and some of our solutions are inspirational, not only for other Volvo Group entities, but also for our competitors. I have to say proudly that we created and still create many talents.  

And what are these solutions that allowed you to build this community?

Katarzyna: One of the assumptions of our strategy is the slogan: #Inspired by Your Needs. It means that we are inspired by the needs of our customers, our employees and our business partners. Our company employs 500 people in 13 distributed branches. This is not the easiest structure to manage, so we need to be close to people, genuinely listen to their needs and address them appropriately. People feel cared for, they feel our concern for them (the “care” factor increased from 60% to 90% in the last 3 years), it's not a slogan, but our everyday life.

Małgorzata: This approach strongly impacts the company's results. Last year we achieved our highest result and we believe we are doing so because we listen to people - I mean all people: our customers, our business partners and of course our employees, who are definitely the biggest assets of our organization, as well as the creators of our common achievements.  As a Management Team we travel around our locations, give space to ask questions and listen to ideas, analyze and address what people say, no matter whether it concerns basic or more sophisticated issues. We don't sweep anything under the rug. Maybe sometimes we don't have an answer immediately, but we acknowledge the issue and come back with answers encouraging local colleagues to propose solutions, improve processes, and to make constant small improvements.

Is this openness to listening to the voice of employees specific only to the Polish organization?

Małgorzata: Volvo Group is an organization that appreciates people feedback, but what we do is that we create “Local WHY” with everything we do in Poland. Today Poland is the 4th Volvo Trucks market in Europe and 6th in the world, so we are an important player, and we need to be strong for our customers, who act in an extremely difficult and competitive international environment.  

Sales of the trucks as such, is not enough. In Volvo Trucks we want to be the best and the most desired transport solution provider. It means that what we do must have a measurable value for our customers and our approach must be effective and focused on premium services. We also need to have a very professional and transparent dialogue with our customers to build relations for good and bad times.

By building open communication and trust, you gain knowledge about what people expect and know what they want. Are there other benefits?

Katarzyna: Employees feel listened to and cared for. They consciously work for innovative solutions. We believe that our customers can feel that we have a unique culture and that employees are stronger, dedicated, engaged and want to work with us.

Employees are ambassadors, they feel a unique sense of belonging here to our Volvo community, and this attracts customers. This energy transfers from people to people. This is what distinguishes us from the competition.

We are the market leader in many fields and have very high customer satisfaction which is measured systematically either in the area of trucks sales and delivery, or service market and retail services or financing provided by our sister company Volvo Financial Services. We care a lot about how our customers assess us and what can we still improve.

You say that this is what sets you apart in the market, that your employees are authentic brand ambassadors. Does this affect results and performance?

Małgorzata: Absolutely YES!!! People returned to working back in the office within two weeks after the first lockdown during Covid. Many other companies are still struggling to have people back in their offices. Our people are genuinely committed, have lots of new ideas and feel connected to the company and the Volvo Family we create. I believe that is why we have such a phenomenal performance.

Katarzyna: We have decreased the number of voluntary leavers twice to 4%. It is very difficult for our competition to encourage our people to leave Volvo Trucks. People go beyond their area and emphasize their strong bond with the company. Every year we organize the Health Challenge and other programs to take care of both the physical and mental health of our employees - but we never do it without checking what they really need. People organize it themselves, take an active part in it, fuel and motivate each other.

Also regarding additional benefits, we decided to introduce a pre-paid Volvo card system because people need different things. We have 25% of each generation in terms of age, it is a very well-balanced organization, and we need to accept that people have different needs. We do understand it and we care about it.

Małgorzata: As in every corporation we are a results driven company, there is high time pressure and results pressure, so we try to monitor the stress associated with it so that our people feel taken care of. We do what we do for real, we don't provide KPIs - because that's a corporate requirement, but we use them to Keep People Inspired, to Keep People Interested, and to Keep People Innovative. We don't follow fashion, but we do something for people in a real way and it pays off so well.

Our people increase our competitive advantage, optimize our activities and make us busy with so many great ideas and initiatives. And by this our Performance KPIs are also outstanding.  We have a great Management Team, where we are also very gender, age and personality balanced: 4 Women +  4 Men, isn’t it great?

Katarzyna: We both have great pleasure and satisfaction in working for such organization, and I am more than sure that most of our employees feel the same way.

volvo pink

This is all very inspiring - thank you both!

Are you ready to capitalize on it?

The workforce now consists of three generations of employees which is something previously unseen in the corporate world.

Older generations are impacted by increasing pension age, oftentimes delaying retirement, meanwhile the millennials continue to enter the workforce; in fact, they already make up a significant chunk of it. To make things more complex, COVID made its mark on values and expectations of different generations - not to mention the technology-centric environment that is here to stay.

This 'new normal' affects recruitment options and opens new opportunities to capitalize on age diversity.

Various studies have noted that leaders of different ages bring different skill sets and know-how to the table. Diversity helps to improve discussions, foster innovation and facilitate creative problem solving. And it's not just skills but also networks and viewpoints that are complementary. As a result, age diverse teams can better reflect the needs of larger consumer segments.   

The strengths and weaknesses of different generations clearly offset each other.  

Perceived receptiveness towards innovation, high energy and eagerness to learn mean younger leaders often prevail over the perceived lower energy, often fixed attitudes and questionable technological literacy of their older counterparts.  

It seems obvious that knowledge of experienced generations combined with a fresh take of younger ones produces better results. But how to get the mix right?

Different attitudes towards remote work, preferred styles of communication, respect of hierarchy (or absence of it) are the key pitfalls faced by the age diverse teams.  It can lead to serious trust, collaboration and miscommunication issues which then result in lower productivity.

Inclusive leadership is the future.

Every organization is unique, so are the markets in which the organizations operate. For example, Central and Eastern European companies usually have rather young management boards and need to attract older talent from the West.

The way forward may lie in embracing the culture which celebrates the strengths of different generations. The challenge is to find a formula that employs generational differences for the benefit of the organization. For example, adopting a decision making approach where the preference for very fast and reactive decisions is combined with well thought, double checked, experience based attitude.  Also, embedding training and mentorship programs to ensure the knowledge transfer becomes a necessity.  

Friisberg & Partners can help your company by encouraging age diversity through implementing inclusive hiring practices.

We work with you to create an environment where individuals of all ages feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and experiences.

“Decision making is the specific executive task”

Peter Drucker

Timely and effective decision-making on management level is a key factor driving the performance of a business organization.

Deciding about strategic choices, or solving operational challenges, is a complex skill relying on data analysis capacity, sound judgement, logical thinking, ability to trust one's own intuition as a distillation of previous experience and last, but not least, a strength of character enabling one to take risks and responsibility.

The management consulting firm Bain, performing a survey of more than 750 companies, found a clear correlation of 95% between the corporation`s financial results and their effectiveness in terms of decision-making. Another insight of the survey showed business organizations that are especially good at making and executing strategic decisions report returns nearly 6% higher than their competitors.

Research by consulting firm McKinsey, with more than thousand managers from global companies, gave clear indications of increasing levels of frustration from broken decision-making processes, with the slow pace of decision-making and with the inconsistent quality of the results from the decision-making. Less than half of the survey participants reported that decisions are timely, and more than 60% say that at least half the time spent making them is ineffective.

How can business leaders improve their decision-making capacity and performance?

Decision-making is not a eureka moment of revelation. It is a process, and assuming a structured step-by-step approach could help gain control and ensuring its effectiveness and efficiency:

According to Schlesinger it is critical to ensure the pieces are in place for implementation. An effective team decision-making process encompasses:

By following a structured, multi-step process, you can make well informed, effective decisions and achieve the desired outcome. But even the not so perfect decision is often far better than no decision at all. 

As  Gordon Graham wisely pointed out, “Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.

When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world.

In the ongoing pursuit of gender equality, inclusion stands as a cornerstone principle, essential for breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and creating environments where all women are valued and respected.

World-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, Gloria Steinem, reportedly once explained:

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

While progress has been made in advancing women's rights and opportunities, true gender equality remains elusive in many parts of the world. Inclusion is vital to drive meaningful change to a more equitable future.

Inclusion is not merely about representation; it's about creating spaces and systems where all women, regardless of their background, identity, or circumstances, feel valued, heard, and empowered. This means recognizing and addressing the intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization that women from diverse backgrounds face, whether based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Breaking down barriers is a central tenet of inclusive gender equality:

Women encounter various obstacles on their path to equality, including structural barriers such as discriminatory laws and policies, limited access to education and healthcare, and unequal opportunities in the workforce. Inclusive action involves identifying and dismantling these barriers to ensure that all women have equal access to resources, opportunities, and decision-making processes.

Challenging stereotypes is another vital aspect in the quest for gender equality:

Stereotypes based on gender, race, ethnicity, or other factors often limit women's potential and perpetuate harmful biases and discrimination. By challenging these stereotypes and promoting diverse representations of women in media, education, and leadership, we can create a more inclusive narrative that celebrates the richness and complexity of women's experiences and identities.

Creating environments where all women are valued and respected requires a cultural shift that prioritizes empathy, respect, and solidarity:

This entails fostering inclusive attitudes and behaviors at all levels of society, from families and communities to workplaces and policy-making institutions. It involves promoting ally ship among individuals and organizations, amplifying marginalized voices, and actively challenging discrimination and exclusion wherever it occurs.

To achieve inclusive gender equality, action is needed on multiple fronts:

Inclusion is not just a buzzword; it's a fundamental principle that underpins the pursuit of gender equality. By breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and creating inclusive environments where all women are valued and respected, we can build a more just and equitable society for everyone.

It's time to take action and make inclusion a reality in our quest for gender equality:

In the fast-paced and ever-evolving world leadership has taken on a new dimension. The challenges and opportunities facing organisations today require leaders to be adaptable, forward-thinking, and empathetic. As we delved into the dynamics of leadership in 2024, it became apparent that successful leaders are those who can navigate complexity, foster innovation, and build resilient and empowered teams.

Adaptability and Agility:

One of the defining features of leadership in 2024 is the need for adaptability and agility. The business landscape is constantly changing, driven by technological advancements, geopolitical shifts, and societal transformations. Leaders must be adept at sensing and responding to these changes quickly. The ability to pivot strategies, embrace new technologies, and stay ahead of the curve is crucial for organisational success.

Technology Integration:

In 2024, technology plays an even more central role in business operations. Leaders need to not only understand emerging technologies but also integrate them seamlessly into their organisations. Artificial intelligence, automation, and data analytics are no longer optional; they are essential tools for optimising processes, improving decision-making, and gaining a competitive edge. Successful leaders are those who can harness the power of technology while ensuring ethical considerations and human-centric approaches are prioritised.

Empathy and Inclusivity:

The emerging new leadership style places a significant emphasis on empathy and inclusivity. As organizations become more diverse, leaders must be more attuned to the needs and perspectives of a wide range of individuals. Cultivating a culture of inclusivity fosters creativity and innovation, as diverse teams bring varied insights to problem-solving. Additionally, empathetic leaders build strong, cohesive teams, nurturing an environment where individuals feel valued and motivated.

Remote and Hybrid Working:

The global shift towards remote and hybrid work models has reshaped the traditional understanding of workplace dynamics. Leaders in 2024 must excel in managing remote teams, ensuring effective communication, collaboration, and employee well-being. The ability to foster a sense of connection and purpose among dispersed teams is paramount for sustaining productivity and organisational cohesion.

Environment, Social and Governance:

Leadership in 2024 goes beyond profit margins and market share. Organizations are increasingly expected to operate with a commitment to sustainability and responsibility. Leaders need to champion corporate social responsibility initiatives, aligning their organizations with values that resonate with both employees and consumers. A commitment to sustainability not only enhances the organization's reputation but also contributes to long-term success in an increasingly ESG conscious marketplace.

Learning and Development:

Leaders must prioritise continuous learning and development for themselves and their teams. Staying abreast of industry trends, acquiring new skills, and fostering a culture of lifelong learning contribute to organisational agility and resilience. Leaders who encourage and invest in the growth of their teams create a dynamic environment that adapts to change and thrives on innovation.

Leadership in 2024 is a multifaceted challenge that demands a holistic approach. Successful leaders will be those who can navigate complexity, leverage technology, foster empathy and inclusivity, adapt to remote work environments, champion environmental and social responsibility, and prioritise continuous learning.

By embracing these aspects, leaders can steer their organisations through the dynamic landscape of 2024 and beyond, ensuring sustained success in an ever-evolving world.

A vitally important task for a business leader is hiring the right team, but finding the best people is increasingly challenging.

I have just finished watching the wonderful TV series Ted Lasso. The premise is simple: an American Football coach from Kansas is hired to coach an English professional football team in London. Initially Ted’s coaching methods are met with scepticism and resistance until the team starts to win. We all instantly recognise him as a great leader - he lights up the space he occupies and isn’t selfish or egocentric – but over time his energy, purposefulness and generosity become contagious.

I can also see how the analogy of a sports team holds with what I do every day. As most successes for your company come from team effort, creating teams that have a harmonious mix of personalities is essential. The team may contain great players, but if they don’t get along, and don’t add up to a whole greater than the sum of its parts, they may never win a game.

Our clients often prioritise qualifications and experience and while specialisms are often necessary, non-conformity and versatility should not be underestimated. Broad-based background, transferable skills, a collective mindset, and having a personality that fits in can be the small differences that get big results. Even the most talented individuals will fail if they are not supported by, and supportive of, a team with a mix of personalities.

Subconscious bias is so common - and by that I mean defaulting to hiring people who are just like you. It is human nature that when you do find any common ground, you tend to exaggerate it, which means you could easily put the wrong people in critical positions. So, sometimes we encourage our clients to take a calculated risk and consider hiring the wildcard candidate - we all know that embracing change can lead to innovative solutions and better results; somebody very unlike the rest can introduce and inspire new and different ways of thinking to a group.

Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Ted Lasso says more or less the same thing, “I know that I don’t have all the answers, but I got a room full of people who do.

In a world increasingly obsessed with data analysis and AI the differences, and the competitive advantages, could well be found in the anomalous and unpredictable.

Ovell Barbee is a highly accomplished, visionary Human Resources Executive who has been a client, a subject matter expert, and a friend of our firm for over 20 years.

He has a Masters of Human Resources from Michigan State University and has been recognized as a Top-50 HR Professional, Top-100 Chief Diversity Officer and Most Influential Minority.

We wanted to offer our congratulations on the successful publication of his first book, The Big House: A Human-Centered & Progressive Approach to DEI and Positive Workforce Engagement. It became a #1 Amazon bestseller of new releases.

When we asked Ovell about the impetus behind writing this book, he said, "Most companies invest money, time and energy in diversity equity and inclusion without creating and cultivating a human-centered environment.

"This How To book delivers essential advice to company leaders on how to stop the silence, have difficult conversations addressing race and diversity and learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable to achieve an environment where everyone can flourish."

We know that many companies fail when trying to create and cultivate an environment that truly embraces diversity and its benefits .

We caught up with Nevena Nikolova, from our office in Sofia, who is a prize-winning film maker and a hugely successful head-hunter. Clearly there are parallels between casting the lead and supporting roles for a film and identifying the best possible hires for a corporate client.

Both professions are all about recognizing talent and making the best use of it, making the talent really shine to its fullest potential.  The job of a Head-hunter and Management Consultant helps develop transferable skills like influential communication (capacity to convince and inspire) as well project management capability that are very useful for me as a filmmaker.

On the other hand the Directing boosts my creativity, helps me build out-of-the box solutions and support clients and candidates in finding new perspectives and changing their way of thinking or acting. What I experience is a kind of a cross-pollination between the two professions and I find it very enriching. I discover a certain Work-Art balance as the one activity is helping me recover from the other and vice-versa.

My artistic journey started as an actress with stage performances of various fringe shows, but I felt I needed more so the second step was a smooth transition to stage directing and afterwards I jumped into film directing. 

My mind naturally produces multiple ideas, images, stories, small pieces of the universe, so writing and directing a movie is a way to share my internal world with thousands of people all over the globe. To feel 'seen' from inside, to experience other people`s reactions, to be able to touch so many souls and minds - this is really powerful and exciting; it makes me feel complete and fulfilled.

Movie Directing is great for upgrading my own leadership skills and style. It requires vision, determination and capacity to balance, align and synchronize the ideas and the input of very diverse professionals, who are often quite opinionated, very emotional and expressive - sometimes ego-driven. When you are an aspiring director, you are full of doubts and it is a huge challenge to keep your authenticity and allow yourself to show vulnerability while nurturing the faith in the project among the crew members. What I discovered while film-making is that it is not necessary to have all the answers and the full picture in order to lead the team, it is enough to be just a couple of steps in front of them.

My first movie MORNING won multiple awards for Best Debut, Best Student Short, Best Silent Film, Best Dance (dedicated to Dance) Film, Best choreography in a Short film, Best actor, Best aspiring filmmaker etc. from international festivals in Cannes, Italy, UK, Mexico, Israel, Chile among others.

The second movie ROOFTOP was recognized for Best Dark comedy, Best lead actor, Best young actress, Best female director ect. Couple of months ago the movie won the Best Independent Short Film award in Silk Road Film Festival Cannes.

Some of my favourite directors are Yorgos Lanthimos, Christopher Nolan, Lars von Trier, Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar, Daren Aronofsky, Krzusztof Kieslowski, Jane Campion, Wong Kar-Wai and many others. All of them have inspired my love of cinema but I`m still searching for my very own style as a director.

My business understanding and thinking was influenced by David Ogilvy, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Ray Dalio, Patric Lencioni, and Simon Sinek.

Lovely question! For the younger me I would cast Anna Tayor Joy and Juliette Binoche would be my first choice for the middle aged me.

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