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Strategic staffing

THE EUROZONE crisis, the latest stumbling blocks around the Greek bailout and the resultant tumbling stock market are sending yet more shivers through the corporate world.

As an expert in senior financial recruitment, the question I’m asked more and more frequently is, ‘What can we do next?’ Clients tell us they can’t cut back any more, there’s nothing left to strip out, they feel they have nowhere to go and they want to know what their peers are doing.

Admittedly, I don’t have a crystal ball, but what I am seeing in the market is a return to more strategic and flexible staffing. That means hiring the very best people for your organisation and giving them a free hand to be able to make changes to drive the business forward.

Companies also want to cherry pick the best financial brains and that’s why we’re seeing big opportunities for interim managers at the moment. Interims add great value and their flexibility provides an excellent solution because they can go into a company and use their hands-on experience to achieve real change in a relatively short time.

That’s especially important in an organisation where staff cutbacks have had to be made. Interims can fill the gaps in a core team at a difficult time, and deliver the growth and strong results that are needed, without the requirement for long-term commitment on either side.

At times like this, you don’t succeed by retreating or making cutbacks that can turn into false economies. You have to push forward and take on the strategists – be they permanent or interim – who will get you through the bad times to a brighter future.

Look at companies that are doing well – Apple, Google and Microsoft. They are successful because they hire brilliant people. They can swim against the tide and focus on costs while still adding value to what they offer. They have the right people in place and are selling the right products in the right way – those are the people we need to look at as positive examples of how to succeed in a recession.

When I interview senior FDs, whether for permanent or interim roles, what they’re looking for is the next big challenge, and the current market presents exactly that. Their motivation isn’t about moving for money; they want opportunities to make a difference, they want the autonomy to be able to make the changes they can see are necessary, to be strategic, plan ahead and turn the company around.

All of this brings me back to the question I started with. What can companies do to survive? The answer is actually quite simple – strong, strategic staffing is the difference between success and failure. Consider the advantages that interim managers can deliver quickly and smartly. Hire the very best, make sure they share your compelling vision of a brighter future and then have the courage to let them get on with it.

Mark Craddock specialises in executive recruitment for the finance sector at Eton Bridge Partners

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