Current trends are breaking perennial stereotypes. The labor market no longer has a monopoly of employers or applicants. Now it is a market of personnel experts. Their task is to find talented employees for the first and responsible employers for the second. ANCOR International Personnel Holding is a bright representative of such expert companies.
For more than 20 years, this personnel holding has become a leader in the CIS market. ANCOR experts specialize in outsourcing, recruitment and consulting services. Among the clients of the holding, there are hundreds of companies from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Belarus.
Yuriy Perch, territory director of ANCOR Ukraine, told Leadership Journey about the industry’s pitfalls and explained why his company would not work with those who want to hire a competent specialist for too low a salary.
Leadership Journey (LJ): Are leaders born or made?
Yuriy Perch (Yu.P.): If you take leadership as “chief-ism” and the ability to “lead” by forcing other people, then such leadership probably has a biological basis. Zoo psychologists, describing animals, distinguish alpha, beta, and other males. I personally do not like “chief-ism” and this kind of leadership. I think that leadership means to do something together, but share responsibilities. A leader is a person who wants to change something, and then the question immediately arises: what kind of team is he working with? Can you call these people also leaders? Or is there another beautiful name for them? If there is a leader, there must be his followers. On the other hand, if you want a team that would succeed, create a new quality of service or product, then each team member should be happy to do their tasks. For me, this is still an obscure point, but at least you have a choice – to treat leadership as a historical artifact or to look for aspects in it that need rethinking.
A LEADER IS A PERSON WHO WANTS TO CHANGE SOMETHING
LJ: Now they talk a lot about horizontal structures, the so-called teal organizations …
Yu.P.: There are areas in which cooperation and the ability to negotiate is more important than expectations, instructions, and passive behavior. Many people I know complain that their employees and managers are incompetent and lazy, so you need to squeeze them like a lemon, and throw away. Why? They hire such people, to complement their management style. Because their only way of management is “to beat with a cudgel on the head”. Such managers adhere to the concept that people are stupid and inactive, and as a result, they find what they expect. In horizontal structures, the hierarchy is task-focused and flexible. If you like what you do, you find people close to you in spirit and value systems and try to work out common rules.
LJ: Do leaders choose people to match them?
When selecting an employee to match, a leader should take into account the goals of the organization, and in advance reflect these goals in job requirements
Yu.P.: What’s so unusual about that? It was, it is now and probably will be this way. The idea of totally “objective” tests is an exaggeration. A 30 % trust in a test is already a great success. “In the process of observation, the object of observation changes,” physics have told us at the beginning of the century. It is even more so for the influence of one person on another person, and in a situation not just of observation, but also of very close interaction.
Selecting an employee for themselves, a leader should take into account the goals of the organization, and in advance reflect them in the requirements. Actually, these goals are a vision of the final state before you start moving, and a strategy is the things you will do to achieve this goal. So, does an organization really have a goal? After all, LLC or JSC is not a living being; we simply attribute to these entities certain goals and deal with an everyday anthropomorphism.
Goal setting is the task of people – customers, employees, owners, directors, managers. There is a statement that an organization is a deployed inner world of the owner. That is why the subjective factor in many respects will be decisive. When recruiting staff, this is one of the assessment points: will the candidate fit into our culture? Culture refers to a set of patterns, standards, and norms that are translated every day and, as a rule, are not written and often unconscious. A person dives into this social fabric, shares some values, introduces his habits, fits into the team or not. And, of course, the personality of the leader significantly influences this.
LJ: Then, does it make sense to describe the mission of the company?
Yu.P.: As my comrade from a very “large system” company with billions in turnover, said, “we regularly described the mission, vision, and strategy so that then the management had an annual food to analyze why and where it did not work.” I doubt the sincerity of the missions. A mission in business, in its classical sense, is what you declare to the outside world, telling how you are going to bring happiness to this world. The society in which we all live offers to buy more, change, travel. In one word – to consume. Consumption volume has become the usual criterion of success, and the goal of the organization’s stakeholders is often to sell you more product. Sometimes, the “desire to change the world for the better” is added to this in some form, which is often just a marketing ploy. Like, no, we do not want to make more money on you, we make the most delicious sausage in the world.
LJ: If a leader selects people for himself, would you say that he was responsible for the result of a particular person. Executives use to say that any failure is their fault because they picked up the wrong people or poorly explained.
Guilt and responsibility are stories of different planes: guilt is an extremely unpleasant feeling, and responsibility is a payment for a mistake or an action
Yu.P.: Guilt and responsibility are stories of different planes: guilt is an extremely unpleasant feeling, and responsibility is a payment for a mistake or an action. When you hire a person, you always take risks. If you could predict your cooperation, people would go only where they could realize themselves and only the companies, which were dead sure of the result would hire them. Risks are the responsibility of a leader, but it is strange to think that you can manage all risks; it is just pride. An employee may change something, he may not dock with the company’s culture, and no one will say this in advance if you do not have a telephone connection with the very-very top.
LJ: It happens that a company declares one thing when searching for a candidate, but in fact needs something different. What to do about it?
Yu.P.: There is something that we are certain about, that is, something we agreed on with a client and fixed on paper. And there is something that the client does not say, but we notice. “I need a bright, active, independent person who is able to take the initiative and quickly learn,” and then adds: “At the same time, he must have work experience in the position for five to six years.” These requirements seem to be contradictory. The first requirements the client articulates distinctly, and the second – in the muted tone; But we understand that what he said with no emphasis may be more important. We, of course, will offer various candidates, but, most likely, our client will take those who meet the second group of requirements. And there are some points that a client does not realize, and we cannot immediately see them either. I have come across situations more than once when I thought that the client would choose one person and he hired another person. Both were good, perhaps the second was even slightly weaker, but the client hired him and was pleased. It is a client’s choice, after all. You are not responsible for the outcome of his choice.
LJ: Are there companies or people with whom you would not work in principle?
We understand that if a client wants to save money, he will pay us a minimum also. We just do not take such orders
Yu.P.: Definitely, we will not cooperate with the criminal world or illegal formations, but this is a question in the legal plane. Of course, we will refuse to work with companies whose culture is to deceive people or not to pay wages. Sometimes we see a potential client who has a wrong assessment of the labor market and wants to find a competent specialist for too low a salary. There are such cases. There are always companies with a similar approach, in this case, our volume of work and the risks increase significantly. We understand that if a client wants to save money, he will pay us a minimum also. We just do not take such orders
LJ: Is there a tendency to value soft skills more than specific professional skills?
A professional means a person competent in a theoretical discipline and a methodology, that is, knowledge applied in working with specific “materials and equipment” or other socio-physical entities.
Yu.P.: I think, yes and no. The rate of knowledge change is very high. A professional means a person competent in a theoretical discipline and methods, that is, knowledge applied in working with specific “materials and equipment” or other socio-physical entities. If technologies (methods) have changed, you need to relearn. Therefore, the ability to learn is more important than the possession of a set of «sacred» knowledge. On the other hand, a person who has no good base, a fundamental knowledge of a discipline, has a lower ceiling, and a more narrow range of opportunities. Without an understanding of the fundamental base, it is not always possible to reproduce a new method. A famous surgeon performs hundreds of successful operations, a nurse watches him for thousands of hours, but this does not make her a professional surgeon. We do not want to use “intuitive surgery” as of yet.
LJ: Is motivation of employees a responsibility of the leader?
Yu.P.: No, motivation is not the responsibility of anyone at all. If there are people who say that they have no their own will, their own goals, and interests, that they need someone to use a stick and a carrot, then, probably, there will be such leaders-motivators for them. But in general, motivation is what you already have. A person has a priori free will, which means he does what he chooses.
LJ: How to understand what an applicant really wants? The person may be lying; the company may be lying. Applicants say that an interest in the work motivates them, employers say that they have a high mission.
Yu.P.: Let’s put it politically correct: the majority of both (employees and companies) tend to sugar-coat reality, shading not very pleasant things. People may be giving incorrect information to each other, but each of us does not always understand our own motives.
I was doing training seminars for the military men when the army was reduced and the officers began to look for a civilian job. They are organized, disciplined and straightforward people, so they were asking, “If I don’t know Excel, can write I know?” I replied, “If you will learn some basics in a couple of days before the exam, then why not? And it will be a relative lie.” And deliberately everyone demonstrates their strengths. I have not yet seen a resume where a person would write that he was illiterate or cheating. Managers who talk much about mission and values can also play this game, knowing pretty well that a company’s values do not always work in practice, and the more so, critical situations set priorities in a different order.
But you can check the information – social networks provide a lot of opportunities, you just need to organize the process correctly.
LJ: Currently people are actively looking for a job on their own and companies are selecting employees on their own. What is the point of contacting a recruiting company?
To attract candidates a company needs to work seriously at the employer’s brand.
Yu.P.: Apart from large corporate business, good and stable medium-sized companies are also interested in recruiting companies. What does usually happen? You place ads on websites, and applicants do not react, although the company is good, it employs 30–40 people, but it is not known on the labor market, which is why the company’s reputation is unclear. People are looking for a better-known brand in the hope of predictable conditions and a stable salary. ANCOR has a high recognition among applicants. In addition, it is economically unprofitable for medium-sized businesses to have a specialist who would attract and interview people. In such cases, we offer the so-called HR implant, which would close the necessary vacancies on the client’s territory. As for large business, it usually has its own HR department, but our consultants know the market, have conducted hundreds of interviews, understand the motivation of people, and most often are familiar with more potential candidates than an HR specialist in the company is. For candidates, we are a filter of reliability. If a company pays money for recruitment, then it has a budget, it is profitable and understands what it needs.
To attract candidates a company needs to work seriously at the employer’s brand. By the way, this year the international Randstad Employer Brand Research came to Ukraine for the first time. In 19 years, Randstad Employer Brand Research has spread to 32 countries, more than 6,000 organizations worldwide, and ANCOR is happy to be a co-organizer of this project in our country. The international holding Randstad is the initiator of the study and has been a strategic partner of ANCOR since 2012. The purpose of the study is to help companies in their struggle for talent. Every year, an employer’s reputation becomes more and more important; employees should see the meaning and purpose of their job, believe in the employer, grow professionally, get engaged so that to build long-term plans.