The key to success in the contractor market
Today's financial services market changes fast. Competition, consumer power, regulatory initiatives and the need to manage a cost effective operation all combine to create almost constant change. Managing change requires a specific set of skills, of course, but changes can highlight the need for new skills not currently available in an organisation.
Often, the key to securing these skills at the right time is to access the contractor market. This blog sets out what I believe are the keys to success in accessing the contractor market.
- Start early. The leading firms act fast and proactively to identify future skills needs. Based on robust horizon scanning and an awareness of the current capability profile, they are able to pre-empt the contract skills needed well in advance. They are honest with themselves about the skills needed and can clearly define start dates and durations of contracts. Key to this are a clear understanding of current capabilities and a forward thinking perspective of the upcoming change horizon. Starting early means a greater chance of securing the best talent.
- Clear mandate. Top talent is secured when roles are crystal clear and accountabilities and deliverables well defined. Contractors like a challenge and they like to feel they have added value. Loosely defined or open-ended roles are unlikely to convince the best contractors that there is a role worth pursuing. Clear role profiles are a must and they must establish clear deliverables and expectations
- Be flexible. Although seemingly counter to the above point, flexibility is key when searching the contract market. Often the very best contractors have broad skills and so given the complexity of change might add more value than the narrow role for which they are first approached. Consider broadly the skills on offer and wherever possible seek opportunities to combine roles to suit the best contractors. Firms do this for permanent hires. It makes sense to leverage the contract skills to deliver the most value, whilst you have them.
- Never Compromise. Don't settle for second best. Your change goals deserve better. Scour the market or ask your resourcing partner to dig deep and don't stop until you've exhausted all possible angles. Seek assurances about the depth and breadth of searches. Anyone can search on LinkedIn. Does your Resourcing partner really know the market? Do they know the resource that they are proposing? Test the relationships that they have. Be -assertive and if you are not getting what you need, be direct and be prepared to try other partners.
- Exit Poor Performers. Experience shows that in some cases unhealthy relationships can be created with some contractors. They are renewed onto other projects simply because they are already in the building - they are a resource looking for a role. This can work. However more often than not this leads to sub-optimal results for both sides. Be honest. Treat each role as a new search and avoid renewing contractors simply because they are there and because they've existing relationships. Better skills are more likely out there but you must be prepared to work to find them.
Change happens, and it always will. Finding the best contract resource takes effort and a hard-working and inquisitive approach, but if done well it can form a pivotal part of your ever changing resourcing strategy.