by Terry Spriestersbach, Project Leader/Search Consultant with Amotec, Inc.
As the economy attempts to recover from its doldrums, companies are starting to address many of the initiatives they had in process before things went flat. Projects that were set aside both out of necessity as a cost saving measure and because of declining business orders are being re-evaluated.
In the process of moving forward again, companies are looking at assets available to them. The review of these assets include examining human capital, some of which was laid off or eliminated creating gaping holes in the corporate talent fabric even at the senior level. For most companies, patching those holes with executives and managers available on an interim or project basis makes sense from several perspectives.
Executive level projects in essence allow management teams to “clone” themselves to increase the capacity of the core team or serve as a temporary fill in for staff that may be added later. These project executives are people who have been at the “C”, VP or Director level and come to a company ready to go to work.
Building a competent project team allows companies to quickly get back on track without making premature hiring decisions or loosing an avenue to competitive advantage. Different from consulting engagements, project executives deliver real, usable results [like structuring an M&A, preparing a company to go public, implementing Sarbanes Oxley, launching a Six Sigma initiative or performing an intricate cost analysis] instead of expensive recommendations. Companies have the benefit of their interim executive being available to answer questions and direct the implementation of and train the core staff on maintenance of programs.
Project work has definite advantages for the candidate too. Taking a traditional “job” just because it is available for the short run can sometimes have a negative affect on someone’s career in the long run. Working in a project capacity appears on a resume as a laser focused use of a portion of the person’s skills and abilities rather than looking like a hiccup or step backwards. Project work also allows candidates who were caught in the economic cross fire to look at new industry segments that may have an appeal for them but in which they have little or no experience [like crossing from service to manufacturing or from support functions to operations]. It’s also a great way to become familiar with an employer’s corporate culture prior to making a decision about where to work [having a courtship before getting married]. Many people even choose projects as a way of life and comment on the flexibility of being able to choose when and where they will be employed.
Building projects can be accomplished in several ways, but the most successful is using a project broker or search consultant that has experience in engagement and project management. When [as either the company or the candidate] setting about choosing a firm to do business with, do these things:
- Meet face to face with the project leader/search consultant when ever possible. As a client, bring the management team together to meet and interview perspective consultants just as if it were a hiring decision [which, in essence, it is]. Don’t put the burden on the HR team alone. Make selection of the service provider a corporate decision. As a candidate, treat the consultant as a personal talent agent [which they are].
- Make sure the firm is a full service firm [including payroll and benefits for the interim executives]. Ask if the firm can provide project and career placed talent AND if it can work on a national [and if necessary international] basis.
- Choose a firm that works with and for its clients [both companies and candidates]. Examine their mission statement to see if it that matches your business philosophy.
- Partner with your project leader/search consultant. Share your vision and expect them to share your passion.
Thanks to Terry Spriestersbach,a Project Leader/Search Consultant with Amotec, Inc., for contributing his article and his expertise to our newsletter. He has a successful practice in executive project engagement management and search consulting. Terry can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 440-250-4600 X 250 for questions and additional information.