Proact don’t React. James Osborne, Chairman of The Recruitment Network looks to the future
I’ll be very honest, I wasn’t actually sure if the verb “proact” was a real word until this morning! I have heard about being proactive, of course and I have heard a lot over the last few weeks about being reactive and reacting, but right now, with all that is going on, if this word PROACT is not in your dictionary, then it absolutely should be.
Let’s put some perspective to all this.
For many recruitment businesses, for a huge part of the global staffing market, things are just tough – a period in time that very few have ever experienced before. This is not a typical economic downturn that we are facing right now, but an event led downturn, fused with high levels of emotions, fear, uncertainty and concern for the health and wellbeing of colleagues and loved ones.
Quite simply, this is extraordinary.
But extraordinary times require an extraordinary response from an industry that I have always classified as extraordinary and that is just what, in part, we are seeing.
In short, there two options here for recruitment businesses, and both options are needed if you want to navigate through this, survive and ultimately thrive.
Option One is a Defensive strategy, about putting in place immediate processes and structure today to secure the long term welfare of your current business tomorrow, and that includes the people you have working in that business. Not everyone needs to do this, but most do.
This is about planning for the worse with your budgeting and cashflow forecasting for the next 9 months, stockpiling as much cash as you can to weather any drop in business, taking back full control of your outgoings, reducing your workforce to those who can add the most direct value to your cash position right now using the government furlough lifeline, squeezing every business opportunity there is available today, setting up your structure to make these unusual working conditions for many to be “business as usual” for the short term and more (you can access a complete toolkit for free to do all this at www.trnworld.com).
None of this is different from what a recruitment business leader should be doing anyway in typical market conditions, but only exasperated by what is going on right now.
Option Two comes next, and you should be well on top of this already.
This is all about what you are doing today to both capitalise on the market when it bounces, but also to ensure that you are 3 or 4 steps ahead of everyone else (competitors and clients) to take a steal on the market when that bounce does come.
Based on some of the socioeconomic studies we have reviewed, I am fairly confident that we are getting to the lower peak of a V-shaped downturn right now (everyone has an opinion, so do make up your own mind on this), so a steep return to some semblance of business normality is not that far around the corner. That is good news for those who have managed their defensive strategies well (option one above) but even better news for those who are now gearing themselves up for the bounce already.
Your consultancy led conversations with customers should centre around “pre-order recruitment”, and developing retained embedded talent solutions today to ensure they are ahead of their competitors when the bunfight for talent kicks back off after the bounce.
Your BD and Account Penetration activity across your non-furloughed workforce should be at an all-time high, albeit adjusted for the current situation (let empathy, common sense and humanity lead your sales approach here).
Your focus should pivot towards current and future niche hotspots within your markets. Never before will a quick PESTLE analysis of your markets be so paramount to determine which areas will bounce back the quickest, the highest and with the greatest need for your products and services when we hit the other side of the “V”.
Your internal workforce planning should not only be focused on training them hard now whilst in furlough to have the skills they need for tomorrow (consultancy, sourcing, talent planning, strategy, social marketeers etc.) but also how quickly and ahead of the pack you can get your team off furlough and back in the game. We’re having some great tactical conversations with TRN members about different ways to increase billing headcount now to be +30 days ahead of their competition when the markets turn.
… and so it goes on.
I liken the offensive part of all this to playing a game of chess – you have to pre-plan what the next few moves are going to be even though you can’t guarantee what the opposition will do; you can only control what you can control and influence where you can and only you can determine how bold your next move will be.
At the end of the day, a crisis is defined as a time when difficult or important decisions must be made. We are currently in a crisis, an extraordinary crisis, that needs pragmatic thinking, controlled decision making, calculated defensive strategies and bold offensive plans.
Now is not the time to react to what is going on around us, but a time to take control, look forward and power our businesses through to the other side.
Now is the time to proact.
Find out more at www.trnworld.com – free to all during these extraordinary times.