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Hiring for the C-suite in India
The search for senior talent is not an easy one to traverse. Managing Director (MD) for Michael Page India, Nicolas Dumoulin, shares his outlook for senior leadership, hiring trends that matter, and why focusing on six pillars: succession, communication, talent, culture, strategy and innovation, is important for successful hiring for the future.
It all starts with talent
Nicolas Dumoulin was given the challenge of a lifetime when he was made the MD for Michael Page India. In maintaining an even keel for Michael Page, Dumoulin often draws on the lessons he’s learned from his long career in recruitment, noting that careful talent scouting and hiring are key to moving forward as a business.
In terms of talent scouting, Dumoulin explains that there are two fundamental schools of thought on the subject. The first is to cultivate leaders from within an existing pool of talent; the second is to define the perfect candidate and look for someone to fill those shoes. “From there on, you sit with an executive search firm to further define where these potential people would be. It is extremely important to get a good view of the Indian market, especially within the areas where you are fishing for talent.”
What’s the right strategy?
Business strategy actually goes hand-in-hand with communication when you’re talking about hiring, succession and keeping all the business gears turning.
To determine the right candidate for the position and the company, Dumoulin says that evaluating the technical competencies of your candidates is an easy thing to check first. However, it is also essential to look at more qualitative factors, such as culture and soft skills.
“In a lot of cases, decisions are made quickly when a potential candidate has worked in the same industry and has experience in a similar position. The assumption is that he or she will be able to assimilate into the role easily. I think there needs to be more scrutiny and in-depth analysis on whether the candidate has right skill set and cultural fit.”
Communicate your culture
When culture isn’t well-represented from the initial recruitment process, it can often result in both the candidate and the company feeling a mutual mismatch after onboarding. “It’s almost like a marriage where the husband and wife aren’t on the same page. That will definitely translate to problems down the line,” he adds.
Company culture needs to be at the forefront of recruitment – candidates should know what the company stands for, which is more so pertinent if the hire is a senior one. “Place someone who espouses the complete opposite of your company’s values in a senior position, and dissatisfaction among the lower ranks will spread quickly.” Proper communication during the hiring process can help to clarify doubts and minimise any surprises. “Poor hires at the top level are not only costly to replace, but they are also disruptive to business operations and can slowly erode faith in the management team,” Dumoulin muses.
The importance of succession and modernisation
For locally run Indian businesses, there has been a long-standing challenge to attract strong, independent leaders. “There is often no succession planning strategies in place since a family member takes the reign of the company. And despite best intentions, this is often not the best result for the business or the individuals.”
One way for overcoming the lack of succession planning in these companies is that of structural modernisation. Specifically, shifting from traditional boss-employee relationships and embracing the modern template of a multinational corporation (MNC).
“One of the major differences in leadership style between MNCs and home-grown companies is that locally, the boss gives instructions, and subordinates tend to comply without question. Whereas in MNCs, strong emphasis is placed on a collaborative listening culture, where the leader works with the team to define their vision, and how to go about achieving it,” he says, noting that the latter model tends to lead to heightened ownership and engagement. “With authoritative leadership, employees tend to be less satisfied in their roles and less engaged,” Dumoulin explains.
Looking forward, the six pillars are more important than ever
Dumoulin is keeping both eyes open: one on his company’s performance, and another on the future of business management. He is constantly refining the balance between internal communication, strategy, talent management, company culture, innovation and ultimately, plans for succession. Even at the top, he knows that no one is too big to fall.