A squeeze on the availability of building materials has been a major talking point in the industry with Capital Economics telling the Financial Times in early June that “materials shortages may start to cap construction activity in the near term”.
It seems that rising demand has met restricted supply due to the impacts of Brexit, Covid-19 and the Suez Canal blockage.
Frank Elkins, chief operating officer at giant builders’ merchant Travis Perkins told Construction News recently that it was becoming “challenging” to meet some on-the-spot enquiries and urged contractors to plan ahead and give “two or three weeks’ notice” for orders.
For a variety of often very valid reasons, many sub-contractors are set up for last-minute ordering and just-in-time deliveries to keep things smooth and efficient on site.
Now it seems that this operating model is going to lead to big problems for companies who don’t change rapidly in light of the emerging environment.
When organisations need to make big step changes like this, it really needs to come from the top.
Often a fresh perspective is needed for transformational change and there can be many benefits in looking to bring in people from other sectors.
Alongside the valued talent you already have, these new individuals can bring diversity of thought and help create the culture change you need to see.
So what are the main things to consider when considering senior people from another industry to drive change?
After the 1998 Egan Report called for better supply chain relationships to drive cost and time savings, many construction firms hired individuals from the automotive sector which was seen to be the most advanced in supply chain management skills.
When the rail industry was overhauling its approach to safety and risk management in the 1990s, some companies brought in staff from the oil and gas sector, which had been through its own safety culture change following the Piper Alpha disaster.
It’s critical to look to sectors that are already doing the things you want to achieve, especially if those in senior positions have driven that change.
Another factor is to see where your target industries are in their economic cycle – if a sector is in decline then opportunities will be shrinking and people will be far more willing to move across to a new industry.
2. The Right Individual
Of course you can’t just find the right sector to target and pick anyone from it. You need to carefully select senior individuals who have shown they have the skills you require.
Have they proved they can run teams to work in the manner that you want your business to? What role did they really play in a company’s success?
If someone has moved sector before, and adapted well, it reduces the hiring risk, as they know what’s involved and are likely to be less fazed by any resistance to change that might arise. Even if people have moved role or business within their sector during difficult periods, this might give you a clue as to how they handle new challenges.
3. How to Get Your Ideal Candidate
Finding the right person in the right sector is one thing, but convincing them to come to a new role in a vastly different company and industry, is quite another.
If your sector needs to make radical change – such as construction companies adjusting their approach to supply chain management – then you’ll have to show potential senior hires that you have the genuine desire to lead that process and follow it through.
Perhaps your sector won’t be seen as the most glamorous place to be so you’ll have to differentiate yourself from the status quo. You could also find past examples of people who joined your organisation from a different sector and made a success of it.
And then of course there is the issue of remuneration. Do you know what compensation package you might need to offer to attract the right person from another industry?
Executive recruiters such as ourselves are well placed to provide you with salary benchmarking information and will often have useful tips and advice on attracting individuals from outside your industry.
4. Getting the Best Out of Your New Hire
By the time you finally get the right senior person into your company to lead dramatic rapid change, you have probably invested a considerable amount of time and money in them. It’s important to assimilate them smoothly and avoid them being rejected by the organisation they have been brought in to change.
Ensure you give your chosen individuals the best chance of succeeding in their mission by giving them clear targets, genuine authority and most importantly the benefit of executive coaching for the first six months to help find their way.