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.

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.

“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.

In the realm of leadership, technical skills and strategic thinking often take center stage. However, there's a crucial yet often overlooked aspect that separates good leaders from great ones: Emotional Intelligence (EQ). In this article, we explore why EQ is indispensable for effective leadership and how it can transform workplace dynamics.

At its core, EQ encompasses the ability to recognize, understand, and manage both our own emotions and those of others. In a professional setting, this translates into improved communication, stronger relationships, and better decision-making.

Here's why EQ matters:

In conclusion, Emotional Intelligence is not just a nice-to-have skill for leaders—it's a must-have. It underpins effective communication, builds trust and rapport, facilitates conflict resolution, cultivates resilience, and empowers others to thrive. As we navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, let's remember that true leadership begins with understanding ourselves and others on a deeper emotional level.

At Friisberg & Partners, we emphasize EQ while evaluating the leadership qualities of our candidates. We never forget to look beyond the CV, and consider the power of Emotional Intelligence. It could be the difference between a candidate who merely manages a team and a candidate who inspires greatness.

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:

At the Handelsblatt EnergySummit 2024, it once again became clear that although the energy transition in Germany has made progress and the share of renewable energies was 50% in 2023, it still poses many challenges.

In order to ensure security of supply, even on days with little wind and sunshine, gas power plants are to step in, initially powered by natural gas and in the future by hydrogen. The plan is to build 20 to 30 of these gas-fired power plants. The nationwide hydrogen core network will connect hydrogen locations such as power plants, storage facilities and import corridors. MAN Energy Solutions, for example, is providing hope as to how CO2-free local heating supplies can function in the future with large heat pumps. These are expected to supply around 25,000 households. The use of synthetic methane could also be interesting as it would have the advantage that the existing gas networks could be used for distribution.

These are exciting times!

Friisberg & Partners is pleased to be shaping this transformation in utilities and the decarbonization of the industry in Germany and Europe by filling key positions.

We have repeatedly been recognized by @WirtschaftsWoche as one of the best Executive Search consultancies in the German Energy sector because we succeed in finding executives with strong implementation skills.

By including your team in the decision-making, investing in the future of your workforce, being willing to try out new ideas, clear communication, and a bit of tech-savviness you, as a leader, will be ready to navigate in the tech revolution!

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, leaders need to embrace a mindset of continuous adaptation. We’re in an era of ‘The Digital Age’ where new transformative tech and trends are reshaping everything, forcing us to revisit what effective leadership really means. There is however no doubt that it involves staying informed about emerging technologies relevant to their industry, understanding their potential impact, and proactively integrating them into their business strategies.

The leaders that successfully explore and leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics are to gain major competitive advantages. However, if leaders resist adopting these new technologies, their companies might face challenges and fall behind in the market.

The question emerges: How does one navigate this rapidly changing landscape and stay ahead?

Well, digital transformation, which is a big term for a big change, is more than just incorporating new tools. It’s about changing the way your organization works, its culture, and how people think about their work. Hereby, the leaders play a crucial role in driving and managing this transformation, ensuring that it aligns with the overall business strategy. We have the pleasure of presenting five ideas on how you as a leader can successfully embrace and manage the digital transformation ahead to make it a success.

Inclusive Decision-Making:

By including the employees, the employees should have a say on where digitization could and should be adopted. When employees generate their own ideas about where digitization supports business, it is more likely to become a success. Include your employees!

Investment in Your Team’s Skills:

Developing talent and skills throughout the organization is a fundamental action for transformation and one of the most important in digital change efforts. This covers, defining roles and responsibilities, hiring digital talent and engaging integrators. The integrators are employees who understand both the business side and technical aspects and can translate and integrate the new digital methods and processes into the existing ways of working. Invest in your team!

Digital upgrade for day-to-day tools:

Give your daily tools and processes a digital makeover. With a strategic digital upgrade of the daily tools, you ensure to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Be willing to try out new things!

Communicate the Change:

Clear communication is critical during a digital transformation. Telling the employees, the when, how and why it is changing and why the changes are important, helps the employees understand where the organization is headed. Explain the when, how and why!

Tech-Savvy Leadership:

You don’t have to be a tech expert, but possessing a basic understanding of key technologies is essential. Tech-savvy leaders can effectively communicate with their technical teams, make informed decisions, and lead their organizations into the future. Invest in yourself!

To summarize how to navigate in the tech revolution, leadership in the digital age is all about having a clear vision, being adaptable, and being open to new technologies. Bringing together these qualities is crucial for steady growth and lasting success in today’s tech-driven business world. These steps might seem simple at first but can be very effective for leaders to steer their organizations not just through digital changes but toward a future filled with innovation and prosperity.

Is your organization facing a larger tech transformation and looking to broaden your tech-savvy talent pool?

Feel free to reach out to your local Friisberg office

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