Building product manufacturers - losing the war on talent?

It was a conversation I had with a colleague who fronts Collingwood's technology practice that sparked this post.

From the outside it would seem that her role is to weed out the best talent available from quite a wide pool of potential candidates. Fronting the Built Environment practice, my job often involves convincing passive candidates to enter into our industry for the first time.  

Gaining fresh talent within construction products is a huge issue for manufacturers in part due to an ageing workforce and poor succession planning. Manufacturers tend to be more concerned with fulfilling orders and concentrating on the immediate rather having an eye on the future!

In addition, decision makers are often too focused on gaining new employees from within a given market or product range (see previous blogs for my thoughts on this https://www.collingwoodsearch.co.uk/our-insights/building-products-construction).

When meeting with senior management there are common themes to the issues they have faced in attracting fresh talent.  

Fundamentally, these tend to revolve around the business focusing too much of their attention around what they want from the person and not why a candidate should be interested. This results in me flipping the conversation and in doing so building a thorough understanding of the following:

  • The history to the business - What stability is there; what is the employer's branding and market perception?
  • What is the performance of the business over the past five / 10 years; major gains, investment into the business; diversification of product offering; market share?
  • What is this new recruit's legacy going to be?  Why should someone be interested in this role in the medium to long term?
  • Is there a need to fast track / promote new talent?  What are the likely paths available; what support will this person receive; are there previous examples of where the business has supported someone of a similar level?
  • What are the businesses short / medium / long term goals and plans?  What exciting journey is the company going on; what investment is being made?  I appreciate these can be somewhat sensitive.
  • SME's - can you look to promote someone from a larger manufacturer? For example, a strong Plant Manager from a £120m pharmaceutical plant could be perfect if you are an insulation manufacturer looking for an Operations Director of a £40m plant. S/he will be motivated for the promotion, carve their career with you moving forward and you will be gaining best practice from a different industry. Another clear advantage is you are steering clear of the inevitable salary bun fight approaching Operations Directors from competitors.  

All in all, have a look at talent from other industries. The fresh thinking they will bring will definitely out weigh the pain for them learning about our industry.

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