Communication & the Cuban Missile Crisis – Market Update Aug 23
Sometimes misunderstandings can lead to awful consequences. I was watching a movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis recently, and it’s hard to believe that the world as we know it almost ended due to the both sides (in this case the US and USSR) not being able to understand each other’s actions. Fortunately, I don’t work in high stakes diplomacy, but I do work with people and my colleagues and I often find ourselves between two parties, who are saying the same thing, but who hear different things. A breakdown in communication and misunderstandings has probably scuppered more hires, than bad offers in my view (but please avoid low-ball opening offers at all costs too). I’m sure if you spoke to corporate financiers, estate agents, and just about anyone else, they could tell you tales about times when parties were on the same page, but didn’t understand each other. It’s a key part of our role to gather feedback in a meaningful way and to provide a sounding board for both parties. However, I know with our business that at times it’s been a struggle to explain that we started placing private bankers, and whilst wealth management is still important to us, we work with a much broader range of clients in asset management, VC, and IB and we place finance, operations, and compliance professionals as much as we do front office staff. I can think of few firms who don’t struggle in some way to get their message across to clients, and so I know we’re not alone. Equally, Kennedy is one of the great communicators of all time and so for the most part most misunderstandings come from a whole host of factors, but the movie did get me thinking about the importance of finding great communicators when hiring.
When we’re working on an assignment for clients, the mix of skills and experience we’re looking for can of course change depending on the assignment. A strong knowledge of digital marketing for top line growth, a bit more finance knowledge to improve transparency, some knowledge of a particular geography to aid a new product launch, but some personal qualities are always required by every firm, and strong communication skills are one of these. In fact, it’s become so common to see “strong communication skills” or “strong interpersonal skills” on a job description that I think firms just include the line without thinking about the “why” of including them and what the benefits of strong communication skills are in practice. I will say this, I’ve interviewed thousands of people, and the most impressive individuals, with the strongest intellect, are often incredibly succinct. They are also incredibly emotionally intelligent. They’re able to articulate their visions well, tailoring their approach to their audience, and are able to empower and inspire, simply through the right communication. I’ve also heard tales of such bad communicators in leadership roles that going into the office is to be endured. Nobody speaks to one another, nobody knows what the plan is, and laughter is an alien concept. Culture really is set at the top.
As I mentioned above, even the slickest recruitment or deal process can be knocked off course by poor communication or a simple misunderstanding, but recruitment is just one aspect of where superior communication skills can be helpful. The larger the business, the harder to convey your message, and in some ways CEOs need to worry more about their management team’s communication skills. Information needs to cascade clearly and accurately through organisations. To be strategically aligned, teams need to get the same message and the message needs to be clear and unambiguous. Whilst this is internal looking, it also has enormous external consequences. Take a large retail business, it may employ 50,000+ people, each one an advocate and salesperson for that business. Each one able to put into the world their version of what the company does, its value proposition, and its culture. If each person has a different vision of what these foundations are, the firm is already on the backfoot – never mind the marketing team having to interpret what the firm stands for. Everyday this firm will interact with stakeholders, including clients, investors, and regulatory bodies. The better the communication, the better the trust.
Clearly, some roles require better verbal communication skills than others, sales vs. analyst, but I’d urge anyone wanting to help their child into the workplace to give thought to how they can help them develop their interpersonal skills, as much as I’d be thinking about how they will pass their maths exam. As an example, I’ve never met anyone who isn’t interested in drama, who isn’t also a good communicator. There must be something in it and perhaps as a society we look too much to the academic, rather than people skills.
US employment figures were out this week. Whilst job vacancies are down, they are still respectable, but there are a lot less voluntary quitters. This indicates that job seeker confidence is low. We saw a drop off in hiring at the start of the year, as firms tried to make sense of a changing landscape. However, vacancy numbers were still strong and we’ve had a very busy summer. I think if people return from holiday ready to find a new role, and firms continue to recalibrate and maintain confidence, then the market for job seekers could be good over the autumn. Lloyds Bank Business Barometer has just published that business confidence has rebounded its highest level since Russia invaded Ukraine. Personally, I’d like to see the Bank of England pause rate rises given inflation is falling and the general wisdom is that their current rate rises haven’t had time to have an impact yet. If my colleagues and I can help you with your hiring, or indeed with your job search, then do get in touch.
On a final note, Sexual Harassment is a very important topic and I’d urge everyone to read the following article from the law firm RWK Goodman, which was written for our sister firm Fram Search.
About Fram Professionals
Fram Professionals is a specialist professional services, growth and VC-backed focused recruitment consultancy based in Bedfordshire. Originally working with clients within the university “golden triangle” region of London, Cambridge, and Oxford, we now work with clients across the UK.
Contact us on [email protected] or call 01525 864 372 for an informal chat about our services.
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