• Generation X career-changers look to give something back

    Jul 17, 2017

    WHEN it comes to later-life job moves, Generation X workers — born between the late 1960s and the late 1970s — want to give something back.

    Nearly half want to pursue jobs in the charity or public sector to contribute positively to the community, according to public sector executive recruitment and people development specialists GatenbySanderson.

    These second careers have often been forced upon Gen Xers following the national pension age rising to 67 and the 2008 financial crisis. But while they need to work longer, they want a different type of role — often something more fulfilling (33 per cent) and they also want to make sure they leave the country in a positive state for future generations and their children (45 per cent).

    Martin Tucker, chief executive of GatenbySanderson, says: “The public sector is facing significant challenges to deliver vital services to a population that is changing rapidly and at a time when budgets are being cut. Generation X brings a new perspective, life philosophy and skillset to senior roles, which is exactly what the sector needs.”

    Mark Turner, joint managing partner for central government at GatenbySanderson, adds: “Careerchangers are usually looking to assume key leadership roles in public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

    “Typically, they have built successful executive careers in the private sector and are looking to put their skills to use in the public sector, while making a positive contribution to the community and benefiting from being personally challenged.

    “This might include roles as non-executive directors in hospitals or housing associations, trustees in charities or chairs and members of regulatory or Government bodies.

    “There are a number of skills that are in demand, such as operational expertise, commercial, procurement, financial, change management and HR.

    “For career-changers, the public sector can also offer more flexibility, better working environments and better work/life balance compared to the private sector.”

    Examples of roles currently available include: board member at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority; chair and lay board members at the Bar Standards Board; chair of North Bristol NHS Trust; non-executive chair of London Fire Brigade; and non-executive director of Nominet.

  • The Chair / Chief Executive relationship – a complex marriage that can stand the test of time

    Jun 20, 2017

    blog_post_5

    We launched our latest report at the RSA on 14th June alongside 50 chairs and chief executives. Sir Tony Hawkhead of Action for Children, and Baroness Delyth Morgan and Professor Lynne Berry of Breast Cancer Now joined broadcaster Liz Barclay on the Panel. The report follows our earlier look at the changing face of leadership in the sector Thriving in the Age of Disruption launched in 2016. We’re delighted to share this latest report with you now (download it here)

    Author:  Juliet Taylor, Partner and Head of Not for Profit Practice

  • The talent challenge in post Brexit world

    Jun 20, 2017

    blog_post_4

    As the UK commences two years of negotiations with the rest of the EU, the impact of Brexit is creating uncertainty for all. With a strong focus on the economy and the impact of leaving Europe on consumer confidence, it is perhaps easy to forget the many other layers of crucial public service that will be affected directly or indirectly by the conditions brought about by our exit from the EU.

    So what does Brexit mean for universities? How will the break with Europe change the game for universities? How will it affect international perception of the UK as a place to live, work and study? Are we still open for business? How ready will universities be to respond to changing markets and trends? Will they have the right leadership in place to steer the course?

    Our hope is that some of the insight gathered in our new report (download it here) will prompt further debate and encourage the Higher Education sector to grasp the nettle. We hope that you find the questions this paper raises thought provoking.

    Author:  Juliet Taylor, Partner and Head of the Education Practice

  • Overcoming the talent shortage in the public sector

    Apr 23, 2017

    blog_post_3

    In these challenging times the public sector needs courageous, innovative and diverse leaders, says Martin Tucker, Chief Executive at GatenbySanderson.

    2017 is posed to be a big year for the public sector. Whitehall has the task of overseeing and implementing Brexit, which seems to present new challenges on an almost daily basis. The NHS is at a critical juncture, local governments are trying to establish a new way of working with Whitehall, housing demand outstrips supply by a long way and almost every other sector is on the precipice of major reform. At the same time they are facing budget cuts or reductions in revenues.

    To be successful the public sector needs clear vision. It needs leaders who can guide it through a period of great change. However, feedback from industry suggests there is a significant skills shortage at a senior level. GatenbySanderson analysis of search and selection executive roles, advertised across the public sector, suggests that opportunities increased by five percent in 2016. The analysis also suggests the number of senior roles advertised has increased each year for the past three years. While part of this can be explained by the trend that the average tenure of a public sector leader is getting shorter, it also highlights how the sector is looking to bring in new skills.

    With the challenges the sector faces this year competition for the best talent is only going to intensify. What can public sector organisations do to help overcome the skills challenge?

    Establish a clear framework for a new approach

    It is clear the next generation of leaders will need more diverse skills and backgrounds, rather than fitting an established public sector mould. Our leaders must be open to new ideas and way of working – from being open to new partnerships, to changing to more flexible work practices to accommodate preferences of an upcoming millennial workforce. Experience beyond a single sector is a way to bring new life into public organisations, and an avenue to bring in those collaborative, commercial and digital skills the sector craves.

    One hurdle that public sector organisations face is their rigid structure and processes, which can be detrimental to the search process. These rigid structures can suffocate new approaches to find and assess the best people to guide an organisation through periods of change. Boards and decision makers should dare to re-think their current process – from how they identify skills gaps, job descriptions, the application and selection process, and the criteria upon which candidates are being measured. As part of this we need to re-think how we assess and develop leaders, not just through the lens of organisational objectives, but specific behaviours. This extra level of detail will help deliver a leader that is not only capable of bringing about change, but can also engage teams in the process.

    Understand that change isn’t always smooth sailing

    New approaches need courage, however, and that requires new leaders who are brave enough to make decisions and take considered risks. Change has to be more fundamental, embedded deep into the organisation. This takes time and happens more by increments than large leaps. Those looking for more theatrical, superficial change are unlikely to cut it in the complex, challenging and highly regulated world of public services.

    New approaches may not succeed the first time around. The measure of a good leader is how they learn and adapt their approach to bring about positive outcomes.

    If the sector is to thrive in this period of change, we all (both as consumers of public services and those working in the sector) must applaud those who strive to improve our communities and accept that sometimes things will not go exactly to plan. Running a public sector organisation is different to managing a football team. We cannot call for the manager’s head at the first sign of adversity. We must allow our leaders to learn from the challenges to create new iterations that will lead to success. Unlike the premier league, most organisations do not have multi-million pound budgets to invest; quite the opposite, most need to innovate to cope with reduced levels of funding and increased demands. It’s no surprise in 2017 that we are seeing an uplift in both ‘transformation’ roles and ‘finance’, as organisations need to balance the books while delivering more.

    This becomes increasingly difficult in the current media landscape. While increased scrutiny in the public eye is a positive move for transparency, it can also make attracting the best talent to lead public sector organisation even more difficult. Leaders must certainly be held to account, but we must also allow room for innovation – because a new way of doing things is going to ruffle a few feathers.

    Final thoughts

    If we live in a brave new world, we need leaders that are capable of making brave decisions. Finding these people to lead the public sector, in what is shaping up to be an even more challenging year than the last, requires a new approach from all involved. If the search is to be successful in 2017, organisations need to be clear about the skills and behaviours they are looking for and establish a framework that facilitates introducing greater talent and diversity. We must also understand that truly great leaders do not shy away from adversity or simply give up, they iterate and the overcome the challenges. However, to do this they must be given a chance.

    (This article was originally published on the Adjacent Open Access website, 30th March 2017)

  • Housing shake-up: the harsh reality

    Apr 23, 2017

    blog_post_2

    The Government’s Housing White Paper outlines its plan to fix Britain’s broken housing market but policy itself won’t drive change and leadership has a huge role to play writes Simon Wing, partner at GatenbySanderson.

    The recent announcement of the Government’s new Housing White Paper highlighted many issues and hurdles the sector must overcome. Since its release, there has been much debate on the white paper’s contents, however not enough has been said on what exactly will drive change.

    The sector is certainly welcoming of policies designed to help meet the UK’s housing demands. But the question still remains, will policy itself deliver change? Government policy alone will not be the instrument which delivers the solutions, rather it should be the catalyst that enables the sector to solve the challenges from within.

    Leadership will play a crucial role in driving this change – it is arguably more important than policy initiatives. Nonexecutive board members, trustees and senior leaders shape the direction of organisations and implement initiatives which can be adopted by all employees.

    The white paper sets out challenges for housing associations to meet using innovative and sustainable solutions, which is a step in the right direction. But the harsh reality is that many of the leadership skills needed to ensure that these recommendations translate into delivery are not universally embedded across the sector.

    Our leaders must have the skills, vision and tenacity to do things differently. All the while not losing sight of the purpose of the mission, but to seek and capitalise on the opportunities that exist. This is not to say that this change is not already happening. There are many ambitious, innovative leaders in the social housing sector that are driving change and capitalising on exciting new opportunities. But, this needs to be more widespread.

    The right talent is out there to help housing organisations overcome challenges. What is needed is a clear model for the modern housing sector leader. With this, we can build a recruiting framework which identifies the skills, behavioural characteristics and experience to implement a new vision.

    Modern housing leaders have hands-on property development experience, asset management acumen, and expertise in revenue generation to ensure organisations remain financially viable, while continuing to concentrate on improving housing provision in their key focus areas. The modern leader brings key experience of managing commercially led joint ventures and knowledge of the financial instruments which underpin the scale of development required across the sector.

    On a behavioural level, the modern housing leader gives clear direction and has the strength of character to cope with challenges and adversity. They have strategic, financial and governance expertise. They take advantage of an opportunity as soon as it is presented to them, and act decisively.

    Overall, good leadership requires a more commercial mindset, based on a related set of skills and ways of thinking which permit leaders to generate new funding models and envisage new opportunities. The most suitable candidates will require a diverse skillset that includes practical, commercial experience in all aspects of the housing industry, not just that drawn from handling a similar body or working elsewhere in the public sector.

    Clearly there are many talented people doing great things for housing organisations across the country. While it would be foolish to cast aside those with a more humanitarian approach to housing leadership, they need to combine this with the commercial mindset to be successful in the future.

    This is an exciting time for the housing sector with opportunities to flourish as a result of the white paper’s recommendations. It is however paramount that housing organisations do not wait for change to come around or for a leader’s tenure to end. Leadership teams should make change happen sooner to be part of the evolving landscape. With leaders who can identify and decisively act upon new opportunities and a government policy framework that facilitates innovation, the housing sector can overcome its challenges to deliver economic and social good.

    (This article was originally published in Housing Magazine, March 2017)

  • Get on the front foot of IR35 to secure the best interim talent

    Apr 23, 2017

    blog_post_1

    By Loren Price

    Senior Consultant, Local Government Interim Leadership

    Unless you have been on a very long sabbatical to a deserted island without access to wifi or other media, you have almost certainly been involved in some discussion and debate around the implications of IR35. Let’s not prolong that debate, but think ahead to some of the likely consequences. IR35 is designed to capture ‘disguised employees’ and collect tax and NICs at source. We are frequently hearing of senior interim managers currently in contracts deciding not to take up contract extensions, as well as those who are now proactively looking to return to permanent employment or to move to opportunities within the private sector.

    In the short term, there will almost certainly be a reduction in the number of qualified interims operating within the public sector market. If supply diminishes, it will be increasingly important for organisations requiring interims to re-focus on what the demands of the role will be and what success criteria will look like. These discussions need to start from the outset when the need for additional interim capacity is identified.

    With IR35 legislative amendments shortly coming into force, clarity on the role of the interim and what is required as an outcome of the assignment  is crucial in determining whether the roles sits inside or outside of IR35. This detail should be documented and presented to potential interims so that they are aware of this upfront. Candidates, increasingly, will want to see evidence of expected outputs before they express an interest in a particular piece of work, in order to price their bid accordingly. There is no longer any wiggle room to iron out details at a later stage. Participation at this stage from the person ultimately responsible for the delivery of the work is key. We suggest a direct verbal briefing– that way we are able to challenge any assumptions made about the market and the attractiveness of an assignment, as well as explore where alternatives could be considered. While HR team and procurement teams will continue to play an important role in managing process and commissioning the assignment, the end decision maker will need to play a more upfront role sooner. This time spent with their consulting agency at the start of the process will ultimately ensure not just a more efficient recruitment, bit significantly reduce the risk of making wrong decisions that will bite back at a later stage.

    Briefing better and earlier might sound an obvious task, but requires more thought and decision making than some organisations invest. Alongside my colleagues, I work with a large number of clients in local government nationally and it’s fair to say the information we receive at the outset varies greatly. Often we are presented with just a job description, which may be relevant for a permanent role (which the interim assignment may or may not be covering), but doesn’t tell potential candidates anything about the real and pressing priorities or the expectations in terms of outputs within a set timescale. When recruiting on a permanent basis, you wouldn’t expect to issue job description and get the right applicants, without providing further narrative around the context, so the same rule applies to interims. Interim managers, arguably, make even better use of this type of briefing; their broad experience of reading situations, assimilating data and cross referencing against previous multiple experiences means that they can arrive at good judgements quickly. One of the interim managers I am working with at the moment said they would be most attracted in those assignments where as much information as possible was made available right at the outset, stating that ‘I don’t want to waste my time or efforts…or that of a potential client’.

    In a future IR35 landscape, what else will impact their choice as to whether to move forward with your organisation or another? Here are some of the reasons given by our network:

    • Clarity of outcomes – assignments that don’t ‘drift’ into other areas. The impact of mission creep on IR35 scope is highlighted with the question on the HMRC tool around whether the client can move an interim worker to a different task or project than they originally agreed to do without the need for a new contract or without that individual’s agreement.
    • A challenging assignment requiring high levels of pace to meet targets/deadlines – equally maintaining the status quo was something that would actively discourage many interims from pursuing a particular piece of work.
    • Where transformational change is needed to teams or processes.
    • Flexibility to input their own experience or try innovative approaches – assignments that are seen to be very prescriptive will almost certainly put potential consultants off.
    • The opportunity to try new things, learn new skills, wrestle with intractable and hitherto unseen challenges, build new relationships.
    • The chance to feel that you can add more value than a substantive postholder would be able to offer in the same time period.

    While the information at the outset impacts greatly on finding the right person quickly, ongoing communication between the end client and the interim manager is crucial to the success of an assignment. When expectations are not clear at the outset and regular communication is missing, discord is likely to ensue between the client and the interim’s view of the work delivered at the end of the assignment.

    Another of our network of contacts commented that ‘providing what’s requested rather than what is actually needed’ led to outcomes that weren’t always deemed to be a success. Successful interims will challenge what is being asked of them and many prefer to be engaged right at the outset, to be part of the scoping of a particular of issue. They also want to ensure that they are leaving behind a sustainable legacy, which may mean the ability to upskill existing employees, or put in place new ways of working. All organisations hiring interims should be focused upon holding the Limited Company/individual to account against the agreed deliverables and not simply a measure of how many days an interim has worked.

    Given the ever increasing scrutiny on spend for local authorities, there needs to be clear, evidenced rationale behind engaging interim capacity and thought through agreement amongst all stakeholders as to what value for money equates to in terms of outputs. The implications of the changes to IR35 undoubtedly mean that competition for the best interims will increase further. We will be working hard with local authorities to frame their requirements as clearly as possible in order to attract the strongest talent in the market.

    (This article was originally published in The MJ, March 2017)