The Top HR Business Executives in Hungary magazine is a special annual publication of the Budapest Business Journal. It focuses on outstanding achievements and how the Hungarian HR market is developing. It looks at leading HR organizations, the challenges of a tight labour market and the trends shaping the market in Hungary today. The selection is unashamedly subjective, having been made by the editorial team of the Book of Lists and the BBJ, and draws on a 30-year-history of providing unparalleled business news and analysis. The readership of Top HR Business Executives mirrors much of that of the BBJ, including many of the country’s leading business executives, diplomats, and decision-makers.
In addition to mapping the personal, managerial and professional characteristics of candidates throughout the Search process, we can often be asked:
Recent scientific studies suggest that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% learned. These findings propose that leaders are made, not born. The conclusion of such studies is that both hold true: a person can be born with natural leadership abilities, and someone can learn how to be a good leader at work.
Are theory and practice the same? In reality, they are not. So why is it important, how does it work, which roles require which type of leadership and what is the added value in assessing an existing management team?
Driving a RV bus on a F1 circuit is as inefficient as going on a 3 week-long camping road trip with your family in a v16 GT Roadster. Choosing the right vehicle is essential and can determine your result in the race. The analogy applies when choosing between natural or learned leadership.
As I discussed the replacement of the CEO with one of my clients, the owner stated, “You know us, our values, our business. We simply want the best from the market. We want a Natural Born Leader.”.
I know my client well enough to have a clear picture of his autocratic view of leadership and weariness of critical questions about the role.
I’ve seen so many owners and C level managers make disastrous decisions - and all of them because there was not a single person on their team that dared question their strategy.
In my view, we must build the kind of relationship with our clients where we can have the courage to oppugn and articulate our opinion.
We must never be afraid to challenge our clients honestly and openly.
Senior Consultant, Budapest
St Nicholas Day, 6th December, is a favourite holiday with German children.
On the evening of the 5th of December, children leave one shoe outside a door before going to sleep so that Santa Claus can put some small gifts in it. They must leave only one shoe and the shoes must be polished. Next morning, (if they have been good!) 'Santa Claus' puts some nuts, oranges and chocolates together with a small gift in it. In the morning, children run to the front-door to check that Santa has been.
In Germany we visit our families, celebrate Christmas Eve with them, some of us go to church, we all eat lots of cakes and other delicious food like roast meats and fish. Before Covid restrictions, many Germans chose to travel to sunny places, or to the mountains for skiing.
2021 has been a challenging year for so many from a personal perspective, but from a business perspective it has been the best year for us all. We learned that working from home is easy, but staying truly connected with colleagues is much harder, so leadership is getting more important in our industry as well.
We all hope that we manage the Covid-pandemic through a high-rate of vaccination and look forward to when traveling, meeting friends and going out becomes become normal again.
Our main day of celebrating Christmas is the evening of the 24th that we call The Holy Evening, Szent-este.
We decorate the Christmas tree, together with the children, a few days before Christmas which we all love.
On Christmas Eve we dress up and, when everyone is ready, we play or we read Christmas stories together. We always sing songs while walking around the Christmas tree.
From this point in time, everyone’s priorities are different– I can’t wait for the supper while the children can’t wait to open their presents. Of course they win! So after opening every present, we sit around the table for the supper.
Our main Christmas meal is usually duck which might not be very traditional in Hungary as it is normally fish soup and fish.
Dessert – above all – is Bejgli. If I want to describe what bejgli is, I would say it’s a traditional pastry roll filled with poppy seeds or walnuts. But if I want you to fully understand what bejgli actually is, I have to say that it’s the essence of Christmas!
A little fun fact about our Hungarian traditional Christmas menu: according to tradition fish is believed to bring money, poppy seeds bring good luck and walnuts bring wisdom.
After dinner we spend the rest of the night playing, talking, enjoying nice wine and of course snacking on gingerbreads and bejgli.
Hungarians start the countdown four weeks before Christmas which is marked by Advent wreaths. They feature four candles, representing Faith, Hope, Joy and Love, nestled in a bed of pine branches with ribbons. A candle is lit each Sunday leading up to Christmas.
We usually start to decorate our homes at the beginning of Advent. Our decoration probably looks familiar to anyone. One special addition is common throughout most households: scattering szaloncukor around, even across the Christmas tree. Szaloncukor is a typical festive sweet which is flavoured fondant dipped in chocolate. In our country it is a true art to eat these chocolates from the tree, and then fold the packaging back in a way that no one can notice that it’s empty afterwards. I can proudly say that I have elevated this art to a masterful level.
In Hungary angels (or maybe baby Jesus) bring the gifts and the tree, not Santa. We don’t pin all the hard work on an elderly man! For us, Santa is a red-robed, bishop-looking figure who we call Saint Nicholas and he visits our homes on the 6th of December. On this evening children put their newly polished shoes or boots on their windowsill to be filled with small presents or sweets. So it is a separate, but smaller, holiday.
As I said, the main celebratory day of Christmas is the evening of the 24th. The parents only decorate the tree the night before, when children are already in bed so that the end result is a surprise for them on the Holy Evening. For religious families, Midnight Mass is an integral part of the celebration, but most people go to church after the Christmas supper.
On the 25th and 26th everyone gathers with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to celebrate to repeat the overload of food…
Other than this, Hungarians spend this holiday just like any other: eating good foods, drinking good wines and having good laughs with their loved ones.
My favourite tradition is actually not Hungarian, but one from my Danish wife. When its dessert time at the Christmas supper, we put small present in the centre of the table. We prepare a rice pudding-like dessert, Ris a l’Amande, and we hide whole blanched almonds in it. Whoever finds an almond while eating, can open a present.
My other favourite is the morning of the 25th. It is when we finally don’t have to worry about anything – like whether we closed the year well in business, whether we forgot to arrange something in the office before the break, whether we bought a gift for every family member, whether we sent greeting cards for every distant aunt and uncle, whether we’ve got everything for the Christmas menu, whether we would find a big enough tree, whether we would burn that tray of cookies that we wanted to make for our guests… All of these, all the stress and excitement is already behind us.
On that morning we don’t have to go anywhere, no phone rings, no hurry. - it is just us.
We cozy up, prepare a brunch together, have long talks about life, or maybe watch a Christmas movie. For me it is maybe the most special, most genuine, part of the Holiday.
As Search consultants, we know all too well the frustration and disappointment that comes in the form a great candidate, with whom our Client has fallen in love, accepting a counter-offer...
In recent months we’ve seen several instances of counter-offers influencing the outcome of a recruitment process.
How best to handle a counteroffer?
Well, from a Headhunter’s perspective, our aim is to prevent the serious consideration of a counter-offer - and the answer may lie in a very thorough interview process.
We strive to make sure that candidates we’ve approached, and who are interested in a career move, have given it some thought, have weighed the pros and cons and have come to a decision based on their consideration, not a spur-of-the-moment impulse.
But with all the preparation and thoroughness, we can still never rule out the possibility of a candidate getting and accepting a counter-offer. It is human nature and we are in the business of humans!
And from a candidate viewpoint:
If you are unhappy with your current position/employer for whatever reason and are exploring your options, you should be prepared for the possibility of getting a counter-offer at the end of the process (although some employers do have a policy of making no counter-offers at all!).
Most typical reasons for a company to make a counter-offer is to retain valuable knowledge and to avoid the cost and efforts of replacing you. So let that sink in. Yes, there are some cases when accepting your employer’s counter-offer is the right move, but generally speaking, an increase in salary isn’t a magic wand - in fact with such an offer should come the realization that your employer has all but admitted that you are worth more to them than they have been paying you.
Interestingly, research published in Harvard Business Review suggests 50% of people who take a counter-offer end up leaving the firm within the next year anyway.
And what about Clients?
Having an ideal candidate reject your offer only to accept a counter-offer with their existing employer can be a bitter pill to swallow. After all, you put in the effort, met with the candidate, answered their questions, etc. but apparently, it was not to be.
Well, that may be the best outcome, given that the candidate was not motivated enough to join your company. It’s possible that a pay increase was the objective all along for the candidate, or when the candidate hands in her notice, she is genuinely surprised at the steps current employer is willing to take to keep her on board.
Sit down with your Search Consultants to examine the outcome, make adjustments if necessary (is it this one candidate? Have we been turned down before due to a counter-offer? Is our salary competitive? Should we avoid the competitor where we are targeting? And move on.
Senior Consultant, Budapest
Market analysis by the highly-respected publication Budapest Business Journal names Friisberg & Partners International as the Number One Executive Search firm in Hungary.
Árpád Németh, Friisberg's Managing Partner in Budapest said:
"We would like to say thank you to our clients for entrusting us with their valued assignments, to our consultants for their professionalism and commitment, to our Partners in Friisberg for sharing cross-border assignments with us and to the wider Friisberg community for their support. This is truly a team effort and we are delighted that our dedication to providing the very best service has been recognised. We look forward to building yet further on our successes with more hard work and great results for our clients."
This top ranking for Friisberg Hungary comes in the same year as Friisberg & Partners International was named "Top Consultant 2020" and "Headhunter of the Year 2019 (Candidate Experience)" in Germany.
Peter Strandberg, President of Friisberg & Partners International commented:
"2020 has been a very difficult year, but it is very heartening that in the last 12 months our firm has been confirmed and recognised as one of the leading Executive Search firms internationally. We look forward to continuing to succeed for our clients, success which has always been founded on our collaboration, collective spirit and our 'OneFirm' approach."
Well, we had an interesting summer from a business perspective in Hungary.
Many of our assignments were stopped, or put on hold and obviously not much new business landed on our desks. We had lost half of our expected business by May - comparing it to the volume we had in H1 2019.
Over the past 6 months we had many Teams meetings with our Friisberg colleagues, globally. I spoke many times with my friend and colleague, Alexander Matthies (Friisberg Germany) about the trends impacting us in Hungary, the similar trends affecting his business in Germany and yet how he continued to be so successful – seemingly Covid proof.
He shared Friisberg Germany’s strategy designed to keep their 2020 revenue plans alive - or even exceed them. In all honesty his advice sounded a little at odds with my own instincts:
I was astonished!
Could it be that simple?
Then I thought about how much it would cost if we simply waited passively for the pandemic to be over. The answer was indeed simple: if we waited, it would cost us a lot.
So, we actively adopted Alexander’s advice and it resulted in several new mandates. Then he called us with two cross-border Searches which we quickly and successfully delivered. Now, we are currently meeting prospective consultants in Budapest to further enhance our team.
Our existing clients have increasingly turned to us during this crisis. We are objectively able to highlight the weaknesses within their organisations by suggesting they talk openly with us as a trusted partner. By sharing ideas and openly discussing future decisions with trusted friends and colleagues, we can all adopt new and successful strategies.
We decided to shape our future instead of simply reacting to it.