RPO businesses fail clients in relation to hiring Interim Executives.

I was invited to a seminar this week hosted by Barclays on Corporate Agility. From the 30th floor, overlooking the Olympics we (an audience of Interim Providers, API members and Clients) listened to the wisdom of Andrew Kakabadse, Professor of International Management Development at Cranfield School of Management.

Turning to Q&A the discussion then focused on how organisations were using Interim Executives to remain agile and swiftly focused in on the changing recruitment practices and highlighted Recruitment Process Outsource (RPO) businesses as the bête noire in terms of organisations seeking to hire high calibre, career Interim Executives.

Those in favour of RPO defended the service saying it controlled and often significantly cut organisations’ recruitment costs. One in house HR professional claimed “we only had ourselves to blame (assume she was referring to the Providers) because it was outrageous that we were endeavouring to talk to the business. How dare we!

The view of the Interim Executives and Providers was very straight forward and concurs with my own experience.

1. RPO businesses on the whole do not understand Interim and see Interim Executives as ‘posh contractors’.
2. They rarely understand the brief that is given to them by their client because they have little, if no, experience in operating at management level.
3. Their processes are too slow.
4. They hire based on cost not capability.
5. They sources of talent are often linked with high street recruiters.

I can certainly think of very few situations that Hemming Robeson handle where the CEO or any of his/her Board would be comfortable discussing many of the situations we are mandated on.

So what is your experience? Good, Bad or indifferent? What can we do collectively to ensure this one size fits all approach to pan organisational resourcing excludes Interim Management?


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Nick has built a reputation over 15 years as a leading protagonist in the Interim Management industry. He has started, bought, rebranded and sold interim management businesses. He is now focusing his attention exclusively at Board and Head of Function level.


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