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.

In 2024, organizations are increasingly recognizing that attracting and retaining top-tier talent is crucial for sustaining competitive advantage and driving innovation.

As the market for senior executives becomes more dynamic, we advise companies must adopt smart hiring strategies to ensure they secure the best leaders who can navigate the complexities of today’s business environment.

Understanding the New Senior-Level Talent Market

The senior-level talent market in 2024 is characterized by a blend of traditional leadership qualities and modern competencies. The rapid pace of technological advancement, the increasing importance of sustainability, and the need for diversity and inclusion have reshaped the expectations from senior executives. Today’s leaders must be agile, forward-thinking, and adept at managing cross-functional teams in a hybrid work environment.

Key Strategies for Hiring Smart at the Senior Level

Redefine Leadership Competencies: Modern senior leaders must possess a unique blend of skills. Beyond traditional competencies like strategic vision and financial acumen, they need to excel in areas such as digital literacy, change management, and emotional intelligence. Organizations should redefine their leadership competencies to align with the current and future needs of their business.

Leverage Advanced Analytics: Data-driven decision-making is revolutionizing the hiring process. Utilizing advanced analytics can help identify the characteristics and experiences that correlate with successful leadership within a specific organization. Predictive analytics can also forecast a candidate’s potential for growth and adaptability, ensuring a better cultural fit.

Enhance Employer Branding: In a competitive talent market, a strong employer brand is essential. Companies need to communicate their values, culture, and vision effectively to attract high-caliber candidates. Highlighting commitment to innovation, diversity, and employee well-being can make an organization more attractive to senior executives who are seeking purposeful and impactful roles.

Expand Search Horizons: The talent pool for senior-level positions is global. Organizations should look beyond local markets and consider candidates from diverse geographical and industry backgrounds. This approach not only widens the talent pool but also brings in varied perspectives that can drive innovation and growth.

Emphasize Cultural Fit: Cultural alignment is critical at the senior level, where leadership decisions significantly impact organizational culture. During the hiring process, it’s important to assess whether candidates’ values and management styles align with the company’s culture. This can be achieved through comprehensive behavioral interviews and cultural fit assessments.

Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion: Diverse leadership teams are proven to enhance decision-making and drive better business outcomes. Organizations must prioritize diversity and inclusion by actively seeking candidates from underrepresented groups. Implementing unbiased recruitment practices and ensuring diverse interview panels can help mitigate unconscious biases.

Utilize Executive Search Firms: Executive search firms can be valuable partners in the hiring process. These firms have extensive networks and expertise in identifying and attracting top talent. Collaborating with a reputable search firm can streamline the process and provide access to candidates who might not be actively seeking new opportunities.

Offer Competitive Compensation Packages: Attracting top senior talent requires competitive and comprehensive compensation packages. Beyond salary, candidates are looking for benefits that support work-life balance, such as flexible working arrangements, opportunities for continuous learning, and long-term incentives like equity options.

Conclusion

As the market evolves, staying ahead with these smart hiring strategies will be key to organizational success.

The Silent Struggle of Loneliness Among Business Leaders

Loneliness among business leaders, including CEOs, is a significant issue that often goes unnoticed. Despite being surrounded by teams and employees, many leaders can experience feelings of isolation due to the unique pressures and responsibilities of their roles.

I have spoken with many CEOs on this subject, and these are some factors contributing to feelings of isolation:

Decision-Making Burden

CEOs and other leaders often bear the weight of making tough decisions that can impact the company, employees, and stakeholders. This burden can lead to feelings of isolation, as they may feel they have few peers with whom they can discuss these decisions openly and candidly.

Lack of Peer Support

While leaders may have colleagues and peers within the organization, they may hesitate to open up about their challenges and vulnerabilities due to concerns about appearing weak or incompetent. This can create a sense of isolation and loneliness, as they may feel they have few people in who they can truly confide.

Work-Life Imbalance

The demanding nature of leadership roles can result in work-life imbalance, leaving leaders with little time for personal relationships and social activities outside of work. This can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation, as they may struggle to find time to connect with friends and loved ones.

High Expectations

Leaders are often held to high standards by their employees, board members, shareholders, and other stakeholders. The pressure to meet these expectations can be overwhelming and can contribute to feelings of loneliness, as leaders may feel they have to project an image of strength and confidence at all times.

Public Perception

CEOs are often seen as figures of power and success, and there's a common perception that they lead glamorous and fulfilling lives. Discussing feelings of loneliness can challenge this perception and may not align with the public image they want to maintain.

Perceived Stigma

There's often a stigma attached to admitting feelings of loneliness or vulnerability, particularly in leadership positions. CEOs may fear that acknowledging their loneliness could be interpreted as a sign of weakness or incompetence, so they may be hesitant to discuss it openly.

The Need To Talk

The silence surrounding CEO loneliness highlights the need for greater awareness and understanding of the mental health challenges faced by business leaders. Encouraging open dialogue and providing support for CEOs to address their feelings of loneliness can help create a healthier and more supportive work environment.

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!

We are looking forward to our Friisberg Spring Conference in The Hague and what will be an incredibly busy few days.

Maarten van de Sande and his team, from our office in The Netherlands, are hosting this conference with Partners from our local offices are travelling from all over the world to participate in the event.

Our Conference is not only about learning and development, but also about reflecting on what we have all, individually and collectively, achieved over the past 6 months, and taking some time to enjoy the experience, socialise with friends and meet new ones.

It is fabulous to be a part of the FPI team.

We are very grateful to have spent time with Sonia Deasy, Co-founder of Pestle & Mortar, from Kilkenny, Ireland.

Pestle & Mortar continues to enjoy phenomenal success globally for more than 10 years.  A family business,  built on Indian traditions and heritage, Sonia shares her story here as an entrepreneur and an advocate for following what she believes in.

How would you describe your business?

Simple, effective skincare.

How would you describe the values and culture of Pestle & Mortar, and what’s important when adding to your team?

 At Pestle & Mortar, we blend the ancient wisdoms of Indian natural healing with cutting-edge science to create simple solutions for beautiful skin. The belief that skincare shouldn’t be complicated drives us to create and innovate simple solutions for beautiful skin, so that everyone can look and feel their best.

To this end, we invite people into a culture that values creativity, community, customer-centricity, and authenticity. Pestle & Mortar began in 2014 with just two people and one skincare product. We’ve grown to a team of 30 and we’re represented in over 21 countries across 5 continents. That didn’t happen by accident or luck. It happened because we intentionally hire people who share our values.

Looking ahead, how do you plan to develop your company culture and leadership structure as you grow?

As we grow, our focus will be on fostering a constructive communication style between leaders and team members, and ensuring that our foundational values are embedded in every aspect of our operations. We plan to invest in leadership development programs that empower our team members to take on new challenges and responsibilities. We are committed to prioritising leadership development, coaching and culture, especially through challenges and transitions, so that our team remains resilient and motivated. Our goal is to foster an environment where every team member feels valued, heard, and motivated to contribute to our collective success, so that Pestle & Mortar continues to thrive as a leader in the skincare industry.

Can you share a memorable story or milestone in your journey?

A major milestone for Pestle and Mortar is what I call my ‘New York’ story!

Less than 1 year after we launched the brand with our Pure Hyaluronic Serum, we got an opportunity to do a Skype interview with Courtney Rubin, a freelance journalist who regularly gets published in the New York Times. She wanted to write specifically about Hyaluronic Acid as an ingredient in skincare. She was particularly interested in the science behind Hyaluronic Acid, which occurs naturally in the body, and is responsible for creating fullness of appearance and maintaining skin hydration. Her piece in The New York Times was to be called ‘The Second Coming of Hyaluronic Acid’.

So, at 10pm on a Saturday night in May 2015, I found myself on a Skype interview with Courtney Rubin. I had prepared extensively, because I knew this interview was potentially a New York Times piece, which could lead to a sizable slice of the New York market. The interview went well, I thought, so I sat back and waited to see what would come of it.

That was May 2015. Nothing was published in the subsequent six months. I was so disappointed and disillusioned. Padraic urged me to chalk the whole thing down to experience, but inside, I was frustrated and my confidence was knocked. I wanted the US to happen for us, and this interview was the springboard. I decided to stop thinking about it.

Life went on as normal until lunchtime on December 30th, when Courtney’s article was published in the New York Times!

 That day alone, we sold thousands of units of Pure Hyaluronic Serum across the US, and sales from that one article continued for the next 20 days – we sold out worldwide!

 It was a significant milestone for us very early on in the journey.

Thank you Sonia, it’s great to see how Pestle and Mortar are growing while staying true to what your beliefs.

Are You One Person at Work and Another at Home?

It occurred to me that all too often we find ourselves navigating the delicate balance between our different roles and identities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the dichotomy between our professional and personal lives. For many, the transition from the workplace to the comfort of home represents a shift not only in physical location but also in demeanor, values, and identity.

The phenomenon of being one person at work and another at home is often part of modern life, impacting individuals across diverse cultures and professions. This duality can manifest in various ways, from differences in behaviour and communication styles to distinct sets of values and priorities. I believe that understanding and reconciling these dual identities is essential for maintaining authenticity and well-being in both spheres of life.

At Work: The Professional Persona

At work, we often adopt a persona shaped by the demands of our role, organizational culture, and societal expectations; this persona is typically characterized by traits such as confidence, competence, and professionalism. We often adhere to workplace norms, protocols, and hierarchies, striving to present ourselves in a manner that aligns with perceived standards of success and professionalism.

The professional persona is often marked by a focus on performance, achievement, and the pursuit of career goals and so we often choose to emphasize traits and behaviours conducive to success in our respective fields, such as assertiveness, decisiveness, and strategic thinking. This compartmentalization of identity allows us to navigate the complexities of the professional world effectively, leveraging our skills and expertise to excel in our chosen professions.

At Home: The Authentic Self?

Conversely, at home we are often our authentic self, free from the constraints of the workplace. Here, we have the freedom to express our true thoughts, emotions, and vulnerabilities without fear of judgment or repercussion.

At home, we may exhibit a different set of traits and behaviours compared to our professional persona. We may prioritize qualities such as empathy and vulnerability, nurturing our relationships with loved ones and fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. The home becomes a sanctuary where we can recharge and unwind.

Navigating the Interplay

While the distinction between professional and personal identities can be necessary, the interplay between these two spheres can present challenges and conflicts. Striking a balance between professional obligations and personal well-being requires conscious effort and self-awareness. We must navigate the boundaries between work and home, ensuring that neither domain encroaches upon the other at the expense of our overall happiness and fulfillment.

Moreover, the pressure to maintain disparate identities in different contexts can contribute to feelings of dissonance, imposter syndrome, and burnout. The disparity between one's professional and personal selves may give rise to feelings of inauthenticity or alienation, leading us to question our true identity and purpose. In such instances, fostering alignment between our values, aspirations, and actions becomes paramount in achieving a sense of wholeness and authenticity.

Embracing Authenticity

Ultimately, the journey towards integration and authenticity involves embracing the full spectrum of one's identity, encompassing both professional and personal dimensions. Rather than compartmentalizing different aspects of the self, we should strive to cultivate coherence and congruence across various domains of life.

Ideally we should honour our values, passions, and aspirations in both professional and personal contexts, fostering a sense of integrity and authenticity in all endeavors.

Moreover, organizations can play a pivotal role in supporting employees' holistic well-being by promoting workplace cultures that value authenticity, work-life balance, and psychological safety. By fostering environments where we feel empowered to bring our whole selves to work, organizations can enhance employee engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

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.

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