Employers told to hire leaders for growth


By Kate Southam

Employers need to review those at the top of their organisation to ensure they can lead for growth in the current economic conditions, according to workforce advisory firm Chandler Macleod.

Peter Gleeson, executive general manager recruitment, says Chandler Macleod had seen a spike in its consulting work to large organisations looking at the quality of their executives starting at the very top.

He said the GFC had caught many companies by surprise because their leaders had never managed in a situation like that but now that organisations needed to be positioned for growth, the opposite was true.

“A lot of companies had management who had never been there (in a serious economic downturn) and literally didn’t know what to do and were cost cutting almost without any strategy.”  

Mr Gleeson said “a lot of the leaders that remained in place after the GFC” had not changed their mindset and as a result they were “seeing their intellectual property walk out the door.”

“We know that most people leave managers, not jobs. We could see the way people led companies in the GFC – not inclusive, secretive. This could be a problem again if we see a down turn.”

“Many of the people left in place are not right to lead in the current economic circumstances. They are battle weary at a time when leaders need to switch to growth.”

Unemployment rose in July to 5.1 per cent from 4.9 per cent in June, its highest level since November 2010. The number of people in full-time work fell 22,200 to 8.06 million in July, while the number of people in part-time work rose 22,100 to 3.4 million.

“Employers are looking to minimise their risk and so are moving to more flexible hiring so they can turn it up or turn down as they need to.”

“When the GFC hit people were pretty fat but there has since been a realignment to ensure employers are getting better return on their investment [in people] so there are not the excessive staff numbers.

“The thing that has changed in last couple of months is where the candidate was king and there was upward pressure on salaries in March and April this has eased.”

Mr Gleeson said August was the time of year when many executives looked at the results of their salary review and bonus payments and decided to move on in search of more money.

“Candidates have to be careful as the market is quite unstable. There are still a lot of jobs out there so people can still move but they may not be able to negotiate for the higher salary or bonuses they could a few months ago.”

In addition to “the obvious” hot sectors – mining, oil and gas – other strong employment sectors include professional services, HR and ICT. On the flip side, retail, hospitality, manufacturing were fairly flat.

“There really are two worlds out there,” says Mr Gleeson.

His advice to candidates is to invest in keeping their skills up to date and to be able to explain how they would add value to any organisation they interview with.

“A good worker needs to be able to demonstrate their net worth to the business – that is how it is measured. You can’t just say you are good at something, you need a proof statement.”

“Candidates should be aware that as the market has gone a bit soft, they need to understand what they are good at and how they can prove it.”

CareerOne.com.au, August 2011

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