Recruiting for change management: six key considerations

Use of MOOCs in educational publishingAs an executive search firm serving the media and information sectors, a large number of recent briefs have focused on hiring people to drive or assist transformational or cultural change within a client organisation.

The majority of our clients have been looking for executives and managers with a proven track record in changing the way teams work and/or think.

For the hiring firm it’s often difficult to know the exact qualities they should look for when hiring new people to bring change to their business. What makes a good manager of change? It can be so different from one business to the next, it’s often difficult to draw up a specific list of requirements. There are, however, a few fundamentals – things to look for – that hiring firms should take into consideration when recruiting for change management.

Here are a few crucial considerations:

a)      Can the candidate set out ‘the vision’ to the wider organisation?  As one candidate put it: ‘you need to set out where we are now, where we need to get to, and the steps needed to get us there’.

b)       Are existing team leaders throughout the business on-board with the changes?  It’s this group that is going to implement change on the ground, are they all sufficiently bought-in?

c)      Can the candidate be an educator to the business?  One candidate, who has been at the heart of digital transformation at a leading newspaper, told us: ‘it’s a choice between indoctrination, diktat or education – I choose education every time’.

d)      Is the candidate able to make education a two-way conversation, rather than a message that’s broadcast?  The key is to make the wider workforce feel they are having a say on the changes being enacted.

e)      Is the leadership willing to encourage clear channels of communication? Employees will only embrace change if they feel they are in an informed position. There’s s no such thing as over-communicating when it comes to change management.

f)       Is the hiring firm prepared for possible resistance? What will the candidate do about an initially unwilling workforce? Some closer one-to-one discussions with key people may be required.   A good change manager will be able to recognise someone who has the capacity to change and someone who never will.  Once the opportunity has been laid out to individuals, a decision might be needed on whether the future of the business ties in with what that person wants.