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Careers: The Road To The Future What Are Your Adjustments For 2014?
By Bert Sadtler, Senior Contributor


Companies today must re-assess their talent needs in order to remain competitive and drive growth. The satellite communications industry faces challenges but remains ripe with opportunities. Great talent can make a huge impact. Employers need to get it right and make a “great hire.” 

To assist with career and leadership issues, we asked Bert Sadtler of Boxwood Executive Search to provide his insight.

Slayers Of Dragons
For a business to reach a point of success in today’s marketplace, there needs to be an appreciation for change and an ability to make the necessary adjustments.

Many years ago, when dangerous dragons were prominent, dragon-slayers were in high demand. However, this is not much call for dragon-slayers these days. Did the dragon-slaying businesses evaporate, or did those who slew the beasties make the necessary adjustments to remain relevant and prosperous in the current marketplace? 

My comments are centered around the Government Contracting community, which envelops businesses directly servicing the US Government Customer and also businesses who are the suppliers and partners with Government Contractors.

For the Government Contracting businesses who made the adjustments to endure 2013 make it to 2014, will they be able to navigate through the current crop of challenges and make the correct adjustments going forward.

Waiving goodbye to 2013, what will be the business trends?

Can these trends be predicted and anticipated? 

How much influence will Washington DC have?

– Will we face another round of sequestration early in the year, and will the impact be less distracting as we have already visited this scenario?
– Will our “Healthcare-Revolution” impact the focus of businesses?
– Will the US stock market continue its 25+ percent growth from 2013 into 2014?
– Will our elected political leaders continue to focus on keeping their opposition from winning, or will there ultimately be a spirit of compromise and leadership cooperation?

How do these issues impact best practice recruiting, the opportunity to acquire top talent and the interpretation by business today on which initiatives to pursue and which ones to not pursue?

Making The Correct Adjustments Will Define 2014 
In 2013, we witnessed large government contractors making substantial adjustments by shutting down divisions and business units in an effort to “stop the bleeding” and deliver profits through cost cutting. These moves appeared to be driven more by an immediate need to lower fixed labor costs and less about a long-term initiative.

However, this approach was unusual. In traditional circumstances, employers find ways to retain their best talent during a downsizing. In 2013, entire units were shut down, leaving top talent in an unemployed status and leaving the remaining employees feeling uncertain as to their future employment status. Will making the adjustment of shutting down an entire unit prove to be the correct move? Will the dismissal of top talent turn into an opportunity for your competitor to hire that very talent from directly under your nose?

Smaller government contractors have been fighting for every crumb of business in order to remain viable. With sharper survival skills than their larger counterparts, the smaller companies have not been able, nor have they allowed themselves, to add layers of management to their ranks.

Smaller companies have been forced to remain leaner and possibly better positioned for a challenging government contracting marketplace. However, are the smaller companies financially positioned to take on a down period?

A commonly heard theme from the Government Customer heading into 2014 has been, “We know our suppliers have been focused on shaving their costs to us in recent years, however, in 2014 we need government contractors to provide us with more at a lower cost then before.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines “adjustment” as  “Making or becoming suitable.”

If government contractors need to be nimble, agile and more competitive than ever before, is this the time for them to add critical talent who possess the expertise to deliver a lower cost to the Government Customer?

Is this the time for business to turn their focus away from Government Contracting and towards the Commercial Sector? Or, do they need to find a way to focus on both markets in parallel, having their oars in both markets?

Through much of 2013, numerous government contractors elected to sit still and not make investments in pursuing new contracts, not adding critical talent to their roles, and not investing in the growth of their organization.

Business culture in the US has historically driven growth through a passion and ambition to succeed. It appears counterintuitive for businesses to have selected the road of stagnation in 2013. Nevertheless, it was a form of “adjustment,” or, a means of “becoming suitable.” Will there be more confidence and less uncertainty in 2014 and a return to focusing on growth?

One line of thinking is the “Perfect Storm Scenario” which favors businesses with nimbleness, agility and the ability to make the proper “adjustments.”

– Fear and uncertainty in 2013 caused many businesses to appear paralyzed
– Opportunistic business may face less competition in 2014 due to stagnation.
– Competition could also be lighter since the challenging marketplace may have driven the weakest out of business
– Opportunity alone will not drive success. Execution is required
– Top talent delivers top execution
– As it relates to recruiting and leadership, high quality, top level talent faced layoffs in 2013, making them immediately available.
– For the ones currently employed, they are likely to be receptive to a role with another employer as their current employer has left them with concerns about stability of their future employment.

As this “Perfect Storm Scenario” plays out, executing on the “adjustments” will be the key to driving success.

Acquiring the correct critical talent is the challenge. Due to a robust quantity of available, professional skill holders, generating interest in a hiring announcement will be the easy step to take in 2014. Abandoning a traditionally drawn out stop and go interviewing process in favor of an effective fast-track approach may prove to be the “adjustment” required.

As stated earlier, smaller organizations are usually more nimble and, as a general rule, are less burdened with red tape and long internal processes. Nimble organizations are able to “adjust” more rapidly and easily. 

Could this “Perfect Storm Scenario” reverse the balance of power and position the smaller businesses to out-leverage the larger tier-1 businesses?

While there is available talent, there is also a desire and need for the this talent pool to efficiently move through a hiring process toward an attractive offer. The employer needs to have planned and prepared for the hiring event(s). 

If today’s dragon embodies the need to acquire the correct critical talent, then the way to slay the beastie involves having the appropriate plan.  

For the employer who can “adjust” with a well developed, fast-track hiring campaign, they may find themselves adding great talent and gaining an immediate competitive advantage in 2014. 

Good hunting in 2014...

About Boxwood Search and Bert Sadtler
Boxwood is a management, consulting-recruiting firm with offices in the greater Washington DC region as well in Tampa Bay, Florida, and provides solutions for employers needing critical talent. As a dedicated, consulting resource to the employer, Boxwood has designed compensation models that reflects current trends and develops and launches senior level recruitment campaigns to acquire appropriate talent. Position examples include: CFO, COO, Senior Program Manager, Vice President of Sales, Director of Marketing, Vice President of Engineering, Director of Contracts & Compliance and Vice President of Business Development. Examples of industries have included: Government Contracting, The Intelligence Community and the Communications/Technology Sector.

    Bert Sadtler is an invited speaker to discuss the shift in the recruitment paradigm toward acquiring critical senior level talent as well as the shift in the employer’s performance based compensation model. Bert can be reached at: BertSadtler@BoxwoodSearch.com.