Transforming leadership recruitment for a European Engineering Firm

How Living Systems helped one of Europe’s pioneering engineering businesses to overhaul its approach to leadership recruitment and onboarding to improve collaboration and drive innovation across organisational silos, resulting in a significant uptick in business performance.

The Challenge

At a time when markets were being heavily disrupted by fast moving digital change, one of Europe’s pioneering engineering businesses had embarked on a multi-year transformation programme to improve collaboration and drive innovation across organisational silos and boundaries.

As part of their efforts, they had identified an urgent need to recruit new leaders into the business, people who fitted the aspirational culture for the organisation, rather than its current one. Their emphasis was on recruiting new leaders into the business who were agile, had an enterprise mindset and were able to influence without authority across organisational boundaries.

The Solution

Working with internal heads of recruitment and talent managers, Living Systems transformed their approach to recruitment and implementing a six month onboarding process to enable new leaders to hit the ground running, getting them to success as quickly as possible.

The first phase of the project was to select the right psychometrics to measure the desired leadership characteristics to match the organisation’s cultural aspirations. When assessing the existing psychometrics, it became clear that the current tools that were being used measured only horizontal development, rather than vertical development. This meant that there was no information available on the mental complexity or leadership agility of potential applicants – a key indicator of leadership agility and ability to work systemically.

To address this need we introduced the Global Leadership Profile, a vertical assessment tool, into the recruitment process to benchmark how candidates think, feel and make sense of the world. We also trained all members of the recruitment teams to work with the new model and best practices in interviewing around vertical development.

In the next phase, we designed and implemented a process to accelerate the onboarding of these new senior recruits to the organisation. Through this process it was also critical to ensure we could safeguard their ability to embed their fresh perspectives, practical innovation and ideas for action into the organisation. Each new recruit was provided with one-to-one executive coaching to help them hit the ground running and make the biggest impact possible in their first 100 days in their new roles. We also put candidates into peer learning groups with three other new recruits, enabling them to create informal networks within the organisation by linking up with other potential change-makers. Finally, each candidate was also provided with an executive mentor, specifically chosen for cultural fit, whose role it was to provide access to the existing informal networks across the organisation whenever needed.

The Outcome

The programme exceeded all of the metrics the organisation had set out to achieve at the outset of the process. Whilst we had expected cost per hire to increase, the overall increase was minimal in comparison to impact of other metrics. The quality and performance of hires has increased substantially as a result of these initiatives and retention rates increased across the cohort. The overall performance against business metrics across the organisation also increased as a result of the programme. The programme was viewed by the senior leadership team as being so successful that Living Systems was then invited back to design an assessment and support process for their internal leadership succession programme.

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