Egon Zehnder, the world’s largest private research company for executive profiles, defines itself as a ’boutique’ company, a relatively small but international reality. Operating as a single unit, with a consistent methodology and a single profit center, Egon Zehnder is equally owned by 236 partners, with over 420 consultants working in 69 offices and 41 countries. It is from this context that comes Riccardo Rossini, Partner of the company since 2000 and guest of the fifth Innovation Talk of the spring edition, dedicated to the theme of the current transformations of the labor market and their impact on the recruiting practices of talents in the managerial field.
Driving the competitive advantage through leaders is the goal that Egon Zehnder places in his own research and selection. Objective not easy to reach in the times of globalization, where competition for talent is becoming increasingly pressing. “We asked CEOs around the world if their line of successors was ready – in Europe and the US at least one third of CEOs say they can not find a successor, while in Asia even 1 in 2,” says Riccardo Rossini at the Community of BBS present at the event in Villa Guastavillani.
Globalization has profoundly transformed the labor market, making it possible to work independently from the geographical areas of origin and giving talents the opportunity to create tailored careers even outside the company context. On the other hand, the breaking down of geographical barriers has allowed large companies to move outside their home markets in recruiting their workforce. In 2004, only 8 Chinese companies were listed in the Index of Fortune 500, while today there are 115. Huawei, for example, has 7,700 employees based in Europe, 70% of whom are recruited locally.
The transformative impact on people and their career choices does not come only from the global market but also from other trends that influence the labor market. Demographic aging leads to a decline in the working population and, consequently, fewer available talent. Furthermore, the technology that makes telecommuting possible is changing our perception of work, providing the potential for automation and encouraging disintermediation.
Living in a volatile, uncertain, complex and sometimes even ambiguous reality, leads people to change the way they look at their work. “It’s not about making a career, it’s about finding a balance. It’s not about money, but about how much time I have and how I use it. It’s not about how much I earn or the profit of my business, but about the kind of impact that I have in the world,” explains Rossini. The new values that arise from individuals, also reach companies, which must be able to take them into account. To evaluate candidates’ career paths and curricula through the old paradigms leads immediately and inevitably out of the way.
Work, as we knew it until a few years ago, no longer exists or is gradually disappearing. In the future, the success and competitiveness of companies will depend on their ability to meet the needs of the new generations of workers who will require more and more mobility and flexibility (in order to manage a better balance between career and personal life), as well as the possibility to have a positive impact on the world, as opposed to the paradigm of vertical career, true sacred grail for the past generations. If once external workers were generally forced into these working conditions, with a low profile and recruited locally, today the panorama of the extended workforce is completely different. In the United States, for example, 20-35% of employees are not employees of the company for which they work. Thanks to a more and more widespread global connection, professionals from all over the world can choose to build a career that is not depending on a full-time employment contract.
There are structural changes but also a new approach to work, which make workers more and more demanding in comparison to the past, because they do not recognize themselves in preformed roles or feel comfortable in tight tasks to be performed in a continuous cycle, always in the same way.
In a labor market where the individual acquires strength and uniqueness, the main skills required by management also change. “The way you manage people is what really makes the difference. The potential of a future manager is based on curiosity, intuition, commitment and determination, but relationships are what keep organizations alive. If you are not able to involve the people you work with, you will soon lose the best talents,” says Riccardo Rossini.
It is widely believed that the first 5 seconds are enough to determine a first impression. According to Rossini, if the way we talk or sit down during an interview makes the difference, it means that we are not dealing with a good interviewer. “What needs to count the most is the substance, not the initial impact. And the substance is a sum of the lived experiences, the skills developed, the potential and the ability to learn, as well as the ability to work with others.”
In this transformation process, the institutions like Bologna Business School, that deal with the training of future managers, also play an important role. They must begin to educate them on flexibility, agility and the ability to learn from others, rather than continuing to transmit notions. The ability to work with others and to develop empathy will be fundamental in a future in which companies will begin to look at organizations in a new way: from vertical and based on horizontal hierarchies and based on transverse engagement, focusing no longer on command but on involvement. It is not simply a new trend but a profound change in the way people look at their lives. And to their own professional growth.