What Major Decisions Are CEOs Making in 2019?

CEOs

There’s a common saying amongst CEOs and business owners: “It’s lonely at the top.”

When it’s time for a tough decision, either you feel as though you are the only person out there going through the troubling situation, or there is no one with whom you can talk it through.

It is typical for CEOs and business owners to lie awake at night thinking, “I am going through this alone.” But hearing someone say this is typical doesn’t always help. Sometimes knowing others are in the same boat, dealing with the same tough decisions, does.

At Cerius, we hear this quite a bit from CEOs and business owners with whom we work. Based on our interactions and experiences, we can provide a number of insights and anecdotes that indicate the leading edge of trendlines, based on the top concerns we hear in conversations, but it is always great to find empirical data that validates what we see and hear every day as we speak with small and midsized business leaders.

For starters, in the past, we have published a list of the top requested interim executive positions. This is generally a good indicator of where companies are most challenged in terms of talent. Until recently, the top three areas of need have consistently been:

  1. CFO—finance
  2. COO—operations
  3. VP Sales/Marketing

Rounding out the top ten, languishing somewhere down toward the bottom of the list, Human Resources has reliably ranked in the bottom tier, between positions 8 and 10. However, in the past eighteen months, we have seen a major shift; the number of conversations and interim/part-time executive requests have created a radical reshaping of our new Top Three.

  1. CFO—finance
  2. Virtual Tie: COO—operations and Human Resources/Talent Acquisition

The increased need for human resources and talent acquisition expertise in 2019 and beyond is no surprise given the tight current labor market. Indeed, Vistage International, a peer-to-peer CEO organization, recently published its CEO Projections for 2019. Based on a poll of 1,257 of members, the survey revealed CEOs’ top five major decisions in the coming year are:

  1. Hiring, recruitment, sourcing
  2. Market development
  3. Productivity & execution
  4. Financial Management
  5. Capital/cash management

Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer for Vistage International says, “Talent management continues to be the top category of leadership decisions facing SMB CEOs. Individually, hiring, recruitment and sourcing was the #1 decision for CEOs with performance management (HR) at #6 and employee development at #7. In the Vistage Q1 CEO Confidence Index 59% of CEOs plan on increasing headcount in the year ahead. It’s clear, with continued job growth fueling lower unemployment, the talent wars are only intensifying.”

HR Is Becoming Offensive Rather Than Defensive

In a tight labor market, organizations are expanding the human resources function to focus more on talent retention and talent acquisition rather than traditional defensive activities (such as employee relations issues) or heavy administration activities (such as administering benefits); instead, they are going on the offensive. These offensive moves include extensive training, succession planning, meaningful diversity programs, and a significant focus on workplace culture.

Joe Galvin states in his report, “Employee development is the key to retention. In our survey, 71% of CEOs said that employee development is their leading strategy to address challenges related to hiring. Improving the productivity of employees and allowing them to grow in the organization are top reasons employees stay. Development is also an effective way to build an internal pipeline of talent.”

Sales Needs to Share Marketing Resources with Human Resources

A company’s brand is now as important for attracting great talent as it is for attracting clients. Marketing resources are being shared with human resources to provide communications, advertising, and public relations opportunities to show potential employees, “This is the best place to work.”

A company’s marketplace is now expanded to the talent it wants to attract, not just the potential client base. Marketing is being leveraged for internal and external communications to provide consistency of brand and messaging. A client of Cerius’ rebranded with both their clients and employees in mind. Their new brand became so known with potential talent that one of the questions asked during interviews is about the ‘company uniform’. Employees couldn’t wait to get their company branded socks, belt, or tie.

A CEOs Work Model for 2019 and Beyond—From Job Descriptions to Outcome-Based

According to the Vistage projections report, 65% of CEOs said they expect their firm’s total number of employees to increase in the next twelve months.  More companies are going after more talent.

But don’t stress. Talent is not in short supply; it may just look different than what you are expecting or how talent has traditionally looked. With a mindset shift, talent is abundant.

There may objectively be a shortage of full-time, benefited, skilled workforce candidates who live within a 30-minute commute of your office. But unless you are looking for cybersecurity specialists with top secret clearances, there are options.

Instead of automatically assuming all work in the organization must be accomplished by someone onsite, during prescribed hours, critically evaluate and analyze each job requisition’s necessary outcomes.  Break the work down into smaller sections by skill set. Focused on what needs to be accomplished. By shifting the focus to the outcomes that are needed, rather than a list of activities and prerequisites to achieve the outcome, leadership provides talent acquisition with the flexibility they need to focus on finding the people who can provide results rather than fill a seat. Give your HR organization the flexibility to match organizational needs to the largest pool of available resources and hire for outcomes rather than to fill a traditional job description and new vistas open up.

 

 

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