One inch at a time

Having drinks in a sunny London patio this weekend (yes, it happens), the conversation turned serious while talking about sport. A friend of mine works for an international recruiting company which, like many in this industry, is starting to feel the pain. The market feels depressed, and changing gear to adjust is non-negotiable. As I learned in martial arts, it is not so much about the strength, it is rather about the position. Nothing to do with the hierarchy structure here, the challenging part resides in how well one manoeuvres and progresses to the next stage.

While they managed to make themselves necessary over the years, recruiting companies are now seen as redundant. And that is not the best qualification to receive, whether in a Western economy or not. Some internal human resources employees have been cornered to basic administrative tasks, seeing their initial responsibilities taken away from them, sometimes losing trust from line managers looking to recruit. Now, to cut down on costs and plan on being more effective, companies are switching to more introspection to replace or compensate the services they used to get from, and pay for, recruiting companies.

Logical 180-degree adjustments for clients requires some fine tuning strategies for service providers. My friend’s CEO has started to dig into his staff’s emotions to motivate them with Al Pacino‘s speech from Any given Sunday. The company is not desperate, even after losing some major revenue, due to the current job market and economy status. Justifying one’s place in the society or the industry is tough, and an inspirational speech seems to work and boost the morale of the troops: “one inch at a time.” This is not just football, and some revolutionary (and also mind-provocative) tweaks may be required, the Billy Beane’s way. Creativity is a must in such times, like using sabermetrics. Time will tell if these tweaks made the company, or team, progress and improve.

Now the question revolves around convincing and engaging the team, so everyone is on board and speaks the same language. Reaching one inch at a time is a fight with oneself, the internal team, before anything else: not so much a fight with (or against) another party (although, that comes later, through negotiations). The team leader, whether it be the CEO or not, has a huge task: to get everyone to buy in and motivated to carry on with an idea. That in itself can be a big crumble, and the leader’s responsibility gets heavier with people dragging their feet, a few inches at a time. Recruiting companies, partners, clients and other organisations alike just keep learning to mitigate the margin for error. It is not about killing the other: inch by inch, it depends on how much one is willing to take a chance. I get reminded every day, and it does not have to (always) be life-threatening: more mind-bending than anything else. As a team, and as individuals.