In CareerBuilder’s recent interview with Bob McNabb, chief executive officer of Futurestep, Bob discusses the unique understanding he has of the role that people play in creating a high-performance culture, both internally and for his clients.
What is your philosophy as it relates to your people and their impact on your business?
People are central to the way that Futurestep and Korn/Ferry operate. The philosophy of Korn/Ferry and Futurestep has been one of attracting, developing, rewarding and retaining the very best talent in the industry. My personal belief has been that people want two things in life: they want to win, and they want to be loved. We want to create an environment where people can achieve their career objectives beyond their wildest dreams, and, at the same time, we celebrate them through the process.
At the end of the day, great people make our business successful. Our employees represent Korn/Ferry and Futurestep, and they are the face of the company to our clients and our candidates. It’s critical that they are motivated, passionate and caring about our vision, our mission and our perception in the marketplace…they are the keepers of our brands.
What programs or initiatives have you put in place to reward or retain your people?
We understand that to grow and succeed as a company, we must outperform our clients’ expectations and provide exceptional results. The only way to achieve this is to develop your people. That means recognizing their achievements, and it means giving them the means to grow. At Futurestep, we’ve created a number of platforms to highlight achievement. For example, we have created the Chief Executive Awards to recognize top performers in our company. That’s a very direct and powerful motivator for employee engagement in a high-performance culture. We also focus on thought leadership, both in learning about our industry and in sharing our expertise.
At the same time, I want to point out that Korn/Ferry embraces a concept we refer to as “The Art and Science of Talent.” Talent management is an art, but the science of talent is just as critical to our success. For example, a few years ago we acquired Lominger, a company that is known and respected around the world for its proven, competency-based tools for assessment and development. We leverage those tools to help our clients identify, attract and develop the very best, and we apply those same tools to our own company. It’s a scientific approach to helping us identify the right talent for the job, and also to help our employees identify the right path for growth and development in their careers. Whether we apply processes, tools or communications, we approach reward and retention with sound, practical principals that truly encompass both the art and the science of what we do.
What are the most important leadership lessons that you’ve learned?
I would say that first and foremost, it’s not about me, it’s about our team. It’s about our business model and how we’re perceived in the marketplace. Quite frankly, I’m a non-event in that whole equation, as it takes a lot of people to do what we do. I also think it’s very important to be true to your beliefs and to be consistent. To manage or lead a company, you have to be consistent, and your people expect that. It’s not about ego; it’s about focusing on what’s best for our people and for the company. If both of these are in play, then success will come in many ways.
What do you do to create your unique culture internally?
A high-performance culture is determined largely by the caliber of talent that drives the organization, but it is also shaped by the way we communicate. Consistent and disciplined messaging is essential. People have to know where our company stands, and they have to understand our values, but it also goes back to my earlier comment: each of us wants to win and be loved. In our communication, we have to acknowledge and reward our people. At the end of the day, with all of the engagements we do, communication is the one common ingredient to all the successes we have as a company. When we communicate consistently, there’s nothing that can’t be worked out or achieved.
Do you have any advice for others looking to build their company and empower their employees?
One of the things that is so important to success is a company’s brand. A strong brand is not built by advertising; it’s built by client experience. There has to be a tremendous focus on quality, on the execution of our services, and on delivering a strong, positive business impact. We want our clients to be overwhelmed by the great work we do. At the same time, the work that we do is constantly evolving, and I think this is true for most companies. There are new and changing practices. There is constant innovation. The economy is changing, and companies are constantly repositioning themselves. To stay competitive, companies must be able to thrive in an environment of change. That’s why, when it comes to building a culture of performance in a 21st century company, learning agility is essential.
When we attract employees to our organization, we really focus on learning agility – people who can pick things up quickly and who can move from one subject to another and be very proficient. Determining learning agility in our people – and identifying how we apply that learning agility – requires everything we know about both the art and the science of talent.
There are tools for identifying and measuring learning agility. There are ways of rewarding it in your people and making it an essential part of how they approach their work. We depend on our ability to learn and grow, and our clients depend on us to empower them with that ability. The successful companies in the future are going to be open to change and also be open to creating an environment where an employee with learning agility can prosper.
Futurestep, a Korn/Ferry Company, is the industry leader in strategic talent acquisition, offering fully customized, flexible solutions to help organizations meet specific workforce needs. Our full-spectrum portfolio of services includes: Strategic Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), Consulting Services, Project-Based Recruitment and Mid-Level Recruitment. With locations on four continents and a record of success in securing top talent around the world, Futurestep provides the experience and global reach to identify, attract and retain the people who drive business success. To learn more, visit www.futurestep.com.
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