In a remote-staffing society, finding local leadership may be elusive but necessary
At the Torch Group, we like building things. In particular, we enjoy helping our clients assemble skilled, functional teams, solid talent pipelines, and ultimately the kind of strong companies that will stand the test of time, even in the toughest market conditions.
I’ve had the good fortune to focus on the technology and software industry for my entire 29-year career. My practice has weathered many storms, but I’m proud to have slowly built and nurtured the kind of strong relationships that make us trusted advisors to technology firms in many of the leading tech belts across the country—Silicon Valley, New York’s Silicon Alley, Boston and Austin, Texas, and even lesser-known tech hubs like Atlanta and Chicago.
Breaking Down Financial Silos
When you consider the formation of technology companies and start-ups, it’s natural to think of venture capital. But just as often these days, the financial backing comes from private equity groups, a growing asset class in this country. At the same time, we’ve seen the lines blurring between what used to be relatively distinct investment pools. Today, private equity, growth equity, and venture capital are increasingly bleeding over into each other, as investment capital chases the best deals. These groups are not hesitant to invest generously in securing opportunities for significant returns, such as senior talent.
As a search professional with three decades of experience, I’m struck by a trend in the industry that impinges on talent. It was long taken for granted that top-tier talent had to be prepared to relocate in order to find the best opportunities for career growth. But over the last 20 years, there’s been a gradual resistance to candidates picking up and moving. The age-old dictum about finding opportunities—go west, young man—is being left behind, as professionals increasingly prefer to remain in one region.
The good news: smart companies have adapted to the demand of their most talented employees, by transforming the way they think about their operations. Today, there’s a far greater corporate acceptance of geographically dispersed teams. There has always been a level of acceptance of geographically dispersed teams with large multi-national and global corporations. The very definition of a multi-national entity implies doing business within different countries. However, as resistance to relocating has increased in the candidate universe, increasingly smaller companies have been more accepting of organizing themselves with greater geographic diversity.
An additional factor that has led to this increased acceptance is also the escalating level of M&A activity in small- to mid-sized companies as a legitimate growth strategy. In today’s marketplace, it is far more likely that a company will grow from $10 million to $100 million-plus through acquisitions as well as via organic growth. While best practices may dictate that certain operations are merged and centralized into the acquiring company’s infrastructure, the odds are that minimally the development organization will remain operating from their existing geography. This has added to the growing panorama of small- to mid-sized companies with multiple geographic operations.
While sales is increasingly becoming a more technology-enabled process that leverages webinars and desktop videoconferencing, and as a company moves downstream from an enterprise level of a direct sale to delivering a value proposition more amenable to the SMB market or vice versa, at a certain point in most sales processes there is still tremendous value derived from having feet-on-the-street. In the software and technology arena, this doesn’t mean everyone is working remotely from home. But it often does mean a team of, say, 100 to 200 employees might be collaborating as a group from three or four different locations around the country, as well as some of these sales offices and some regional development centers. This scenario has become fairly common.
As a company grows and develops itself into a multi-geographic entity, the critical component is to ensure that, regardless of the number of locations, there is a commonality of values and a shared culture that starts with C-level leadership to ensure the greatest consistency in situations where dynamic growth and a commitment to the highest ROI also come with challenges of interpersonal management and stress. This is why clients have told us they value our consultative and detailed approach that stresses cultural fit.
So what does “remote” mean for us, the talent experts? For one thing, it forces us to have a sharper focus on helping our clients find the best possible talent in their own target regions. It’s not good enough to simply search the country for the best people if they aren’t prepared to relocate to where the opportunity is. It also means we need to act as true consultants with our clients, not just order takers to fill an organizational hole. Talent, experience and cultural fit are the trifecta of resonance for building a winning team and a great organization, sometimes regardless of the geographic location. So we have to adjust our thinking to continue to serve our clients well, and to help them overcome the organizational tendency toward what I like to call “the conspiracy of average” (more about this in future columns).
For us to continue to support clients’ growth, we must ensure that the building blocks include strong leadership. Identifying the right talent is paramount in their ability to secure a financial windfall. t
- Posted by Ilana Katz
- On January 7, 2019
- 0 Comments