All posts by Mikko Taipale

Defining your next career move – critical questions

When coaching candidates to identify their potential and developing themselves we quite often end up reflecting on what could be the clients next career steps. I am quite often surprised by the fact how similar the answers are when the client defines his/her career ambitions. Clients in career coaching want more complex and challenging tasks, learning new things and larger responsibilities. Being part of the team, having a good managerial relationship and manageable work & life balance are also on top of the “wish list”.

Identify your own and unique decision parameters

I usually challenge my clients on their decision criteria and coach them to identify their own and unique decision parameters. As an example, I do recognize that good a compensation package can be important for many reasons but at the same time it should be only one decision criteria among others. I advocate long-term thinking and a more analytical approach when setting up client´s individual career goals.

In a HBR article (25th March 2022) Dorian Clark shares some thoughts on how to build up long term career goals. She summarizes well that you would need to start with the end in your mind – you need to know where you are heading to. You also need to define what you absolutely do not want and take steps to avoid it. When choosing the next career steps, you also need to narrow down your alternatives and focus on the most relevant ones, preferably those steps which take you towards your long-term goals. And finally think about the timing when to move on when considering your energy levels. Please check the article

The importance of internal drivers

I agree with Dorian Clark, and additionally I want to highlight some critical questions which comes up in my coaching discussions. I want to highlight the importance of internal drivers, sometimes referred to as motivational factors. When defining your next steps, it is beneficial to start reflecting on your true drivers. Putting it in a simple way: think about the situations which give you energy and increase your work well-being rather than makes you exhausted. When was the last time that you did something which was truly emotionally rewarding?

Considering cultural contexts

When coaching my client´s I also remind them that all our experiences are linked to a cultural context. For example, if you have bad experiences in the past in a certain industry, it does not necessarily mean that all the companies are similar in that industry. The cultural factors which are important to analyze, reflect on and challenge to conclude if your decision parameters are actually valid in all situations.

Making a career move is not always an easy decision to make. But when you have sorted out your thoughts proactively and before entering discussions with your potential employers, you will be perceived as more motivated, and value driven that most of the candidates.

To summarize: by preparing your long-term career goals and planning your next move you will most likely focus on the right opportunities and consequently have a higher possibility to get the job you really want.

Mikko Taipale works as Partner, Executive Search, Board Services and Talent Management in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC), with close to 15 years of coaching experience.  Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader.

Defining your next career move
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Trends in employee performance evaluations 2022
Defining new workplace strategies

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Trends in employee performance evaluations 2022

I have earlier written about the benefits of coaching and how it can boost your talent development. See the previous articles on https://aimsinternational.se/coaching-development-boost-for-talents/ and https://aimsinternational.se/coaching-for-performance/.

Most of the organizations conduct regular performance or developmental discussions based on historical performance. Whether this happens as an annual discussion, on a continuous process or based on project deliveries there are some trends 2022 which have become more and more important to be aware of. I have made following observations when discussing with managers and HR directors in various companies.

Leadership in a remote work environment

Working remotely is not a new thing. However, most of the managers used to meet their employees regularly or at least few times per year. The new issue arising out of increase of off-site working is that you may have more employees you have never met physically, and your only contacts are through digital channels.

This leads to some questions

  • How to evaluate the overall performance (what to deliver and how to deliver) when you have mostly met your employees only digitally?
  • How to give feedback on desired leadership, or employee, behaviors which are often designed to ordinary office and physical day-to-day interactions between the people?
  • How to give fair and solid feedback for the new employees if your company is lacking good on-boarding processes?

I have earlier proposed coaching and mentoring as tools to ensure the expected performance – discussing the targets, creating transparency and engagement, and ensuring employee motivation. It also helps in performance related discussions since it will be a natural continuation of earlier discussions. Ultimately the successful and ongoing dialogue between employee and manager will make annual performance dialogues obsolete since everything has been already handled.

Improving how to give immediate feedback

What other actions should companies take? I believe that a successful company train the managers and employees to engage themselves into continuous discussions on performance related challenges. This means that we need to learn how to share immediate feedback, be transparent and create an environment and culture where the employees are not left alone.

I also believe a successful company needs to revisit the evaluation criteria of the competency framework. This could mean considering the impacts of distance working and the expectations related to digital way-of-working. For example, distance working might set new requirements to be proactive and do more ad-hoc calls to sort out possible misunderstandings.

Coaching and mentoring programs

The solution what many clients are using is to provide coaching and mentoring programs to their employees to support and ensure individual performance. Most of the time coaching is provided by a direct manager, but more and more often external performance coaches are relied on to deliver these services.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized in supporting companies broadly when working with Talent Management issues including building new way-of-working and providing Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Executive Search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more about the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale works as Executive Search and Talent Management Consultant in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC). Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporations as a HR leader with a focus on Talent Management practices.

employee performance evaluations

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Ensuring effective onboarding through mentoring

I have previously written about coaching as a development tool and method and how it can benefit the improvement of the organizational performance . In this article I will look further into how companies ensure a fast and high-quality onboarding process by applying mentoring and coaching as a tool.

Based on this HBR article approximately 70% of Fortune 500 companies provide new employees mentoring support after joining the company. The recent studies evidence that these mentoring programs are clearly providing substantial benefits in terms of increased performance.

Individually designed programs

So how are these programs effectively established and how to ensure that you maximize the benefits? We have designed several onboarding programs including mentoring programs for senior experts and leaders and want to share below our experiences.

The critical question is if the onboarding program is optional or not. We have seen that some new managers simply do not see the need for a full program, and they decline mentoring (and also some other parts of onboarding programs). However, it is finally for the company to decide how the onboarding and introduction is managed. Our experience, supported by the research, is that well-designed onboarding programs will increase the performance which itself speaks in favor of having the program as a mandatory for everyone. At the same time for the senior leaders, we recommend highly individualized programs which are based on their specific onboarding challenges.

Include at least 3 mentoring meetings

We believe that a solid onboarding program includes at least 3 mentoring meetings. In practice this means that the new manager will be provided an experienced peer or senior managerial support in addition to support provided by his/her ordinary line manager. The mentor is acting voluntarily and providing his or her professional experience in the relevant field and many years of experience of company culture, products, services, decision making and collaboration through internal networks.

Enable faster introductions to the company culture

The main task for the mentor is to enable the fast introduction to the company culture and “unwritten/unsaid rules”. This might include sharing experiences on what kind of challenges other newly employed managers have faced. It is good to note that even mentor acts on the behalf of the company, not for his or her own interests, a successful mentoring relationship is also benefiting the mentor when providing new insights and outside-in perspectives to him or her.

Onboarding programs with clear targets

Onboarding program which includes mentoring should have some clear targets and evaluation in the end. This ensures that the program continues developing based on the needs of the new managers

To sum up, including mentoring into onboarding programs will increase the companies to reach high-quality results within a short timeframe.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized in supporting companies broadly when working with talent management issues including building new way-of-working and providing coaching, leadership assessments and executive search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more from the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale works as a Partner in AIMS International Sweden. He is a member of Talent Management and Automotive & Mobility Global Practice Teams. Mikko works and is a certified leadership coach (ACC) and has worked as coach and mentor in many organizations. Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader with a focus on talent management practices.

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Defining new workplace strategies

For many companies defining the post-COVID-19 period is problematic. Employees and also candidates looking for a new job pose new demands regarding the flexibility to choose their own workplace, sometimes even being in another country from where the permanent office location is.

Replanning office space

I have recently been part of a number of discussions with line managers and HR on this topic. Some companies have already replanned their office space by reducing the number of workplaces, some companies are waiting to see how the pandemic will continue impacting and some companies expect to go back to normal with less changes. In these discussions I see some recurring questions coming up which might be helpful for all companies to reconsider.

Looking at the workplace strategies there has already before COVID-19 been an increasing demand to allow more flexibility when it comes to physical presence at the workplace. There are many ways to describe what alternatives the company can choose from.  From the workplace design perspective, you should need to consider at least the following parameters.

Assess the operational need for the physical presence

First, you need to assess the operational need for the physical presence. For example, for many engineering companies there is still a need to have access to expensive tools and products. Also, some working tools are impossible to send to employee´s home or the cost would be too high.  Home working can also mean that you need an expensive laptop instead of having a cheaper stationary computer at the workplace.

Define collaboration

You need to define your need to collaborate informally and change ideas in a more spontaneous way.  My colleague Börje Hammarling wrote last week on innovation and importance of informal meetings at the workplace. (article in Swedish).

Regard corporate culture as a strategic asset

The most successful businesses and organizations regard their corporate culture as a strategic asset and competitive advantage. This means that you need to assess what kind of workplace is suitable to ensure implementation of company culture, values, and behaviors. This is very important when you employ new employees (or managers) and introduce them to company.

You would need to consider the talent expectations regarding the workplace strategy. There are very individual approaches to this topic, and you need to know your current and future workforce and avoid making strategies choices by intuition. To simplify, many of us are looking forward to coming back to the workplace. Some will expect more flexibility, and some will definitively prefer to work from home full time.

What are the main trends and how companies are preparing themselves? The answer will vary a lot and depends on the actual needs, nature of the business, cultural issues and also workforce demands.  Some trends are however already visible.

Provide more flexibility

The companies will need to provide more flexibility when it comes to presence in the work unless they have good reasons to force strict presence at the office. This will most likely mean a hybrid model which includes flexibility and allowing people to work from anywhere and modifying the office environment to meet the needs of social collaboration, culture building and for having meetings or dedicated workplaces for certain purposes (specific equipment etc). We also believe companies will offer working “hubs” in terms of co-working places to attract remote workers outside of their main locations.  We see also in large cities this option becoming more and more popular, allowing employees to meet close to their homes and still meeting colleagues.

We believe that for the companies wanting to attract the best talents, the office strategies will be based upon the practical needs and guidelines rather than setting strict rules.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized to support companies broadly when working with Talent Management issues including building new ways-of-working and providing Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Executive Search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more from the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale works as Partner & Executive Search and Talent Management Consultant in AIMS International Sweden.  Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader.

Workplace strategies

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Manager – what is your vacation strategy?

I share mine for your inspiration

Many companies and managers prepare themselves before the summer period starts with several weeks of vacation. For many of us it means that we try to close as many open topics as possible before the vacation period starts to be able to relax. Now before the summer period I feel it is good to reflect about what the vacation period means for each of us.

When I meet high performing managers and senior specialists the focus on our discussion is quite often on the job and performance. Usually, we talk also on work and life balance including vacation practices. When we discuss this more in-depth it becomes evident that managers´ possibility to have a decent vacation depends on a number of factors. Below are the top 3 reasons based on numerous discussions with managers.

First, global companies are used to handle business 24/7, all year around. The companies live in the world where someone is absent every day. It is quite natural that the globalization takes us towards the direction where key people are expected to be available also during their vacation. This is the price to be paid when accepting a key leadership position.

Secondly, we (still) have leaders who expect their reporting managers to always be available and, if not, interpret the vacation as a sign of lack of commitment or focus. We come back to leadership and to the question what kind of leadership culture we want to foster. Obviously if your manager wants you to work then you will most likely will do, also when on vacation.

Thirdly, and the most common reason is that managers are used to be available, use mobile working tools and respond to emails and calls even when they are on vacation. We say that we do that by our own choice, to have control and to enable a relaxed vacation.

For a vast majority of the manager´s you do not explain why vacation period is needed and I am not going to repeat all the positive reasons of having a vacation. I believe that each of us working in a global business environment should develop clear rules on how to manage work and vacation in the best way.

Here’s my personal vacation rules (or behaviors) for your support.

  • Work is only allowed if it cannot wait.
  • I do not call or send messages to my colleague who is on vacation. I only send emails if the issue cannot wait and nobody else can support.
  • I do not respond to emails unless it is urgent and cannot wait. If I am copied in an email, I take it is a sign that my response is not needed.
  • Client emails are always priority 1 and I will respond within the same day.
  • I check emails max 3 times per day – morning, lunch, and evening, if possible, without disturbing any other activities.

I have been working many years in international environments for global companies and during the years I have tried to follow working rules as above with minor modification. Sometimes with a good success and sometime with less of success. For summer 2021 I am again fully dedicated to these! Let us see how it goes.

Let us demonstrate strong Self-Leadership to enjoy the time with our families and friends. I want to wish everyone a relaxing vacation period!

Manager vacation

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Coaching for Performance

I wrote an article on how coaching can boost your talent development in march. In this article I would like to focus on the benefits of coaching when securing and enhancing individual performance.

Many of our Corporate clients have established different group processes to setting corporate objectives, managing performance cycles, and focusing to follow-up of target fulfillment. Through the established routines the corporates gain transparency and can better anticipate the future performance. Very often corporate target setting is directly linked to bonus structures and payouts which makes it also very important from the individual remuneration perspective.

Performance targets

Meeting performance targets is rarely a simplified “top down” process which can be steered with one single process. In additional to formal corporate performance systems the organizations will invest in different supportive programs or development activities to ensure their leaders and managers will have right tools to meet the targets.

An increase in need of individual coaching plans

We see the interest towards individual coaching programs are increasing. As mentioned in my earlier articles many managers work in a very demanding VUCA-environment. This means that managers´ work pace is extremely high, full of stress, and difficult to manage.

The solution that many clients are using is to provide coaching support to ensure individual performance. Most of the time coaching is provided by a direct manager, but it´s becoming more common that external performance coaches are relied on to deliver these services.

Positives of having a “performance” coach are well documented and recognized by many organizations

First, a coach can help the leader to prioritize and ensure things get done in in a right order. The essential part of each coaching sessions is the focus on action. Having a coach will ensure that the managers have considered their focus areas from different perspectives and thus you will increase the quality of the management actions.

Secondly, it will increase the accountability and sense of ownership of your targets. Quite often the leaders see that their targets relate to things which are out of their control. Through coaching the leader will focus on areas which fall within their scope of influence. This will increase the motivation and sense of accountability when it comes to the results of your own work.

Thirdly, working with concrete actions which you control and “own” will usually contribute to increased job motivation. The performance coaching identifies obstacles in the managers own thinking and develop more effective approaches to interpersonal situations, solving problems and finding innovative new ways of thinking.

The ultimate ambition for a Performance Coach is to ensure the client´s performance targets are met. Based on ICF Global Coaching Study (2009) 70% of clients benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills because of coaching. There is a good chance that through coaching programs your company will perform better.

At AIMS International we are specialized to support companies broadly when working with Talent Management issues including building new way-of-working and providing Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Executive Search. Please contact us in AIMS International in case you want to hear more from the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale works as Executive Search and Talent Management Consultant in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC). Before starting in AIMS International in Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader with a focus on Talent Management practices.

Coaching for Performance

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Coaching – development boost for talents

I have written earlier on the importance of Talent Management processes and how to get up to the speed fast: Talent Management not only for large corporates  and Strategic Talent Management – get started and fast.

Increased interest in talent development

At AIMS International Sweden we witness an increasing interest and focus on different talent development initiatives among our clients. The common nominator being more and more often the need for individual to receive support in her or his development. I’m going to describe a typical leadership situation below and illustrate the benefits of coaching.

Team management challenges

Many leaders work in a very demanding VUCA-environment (read more about VUCA). The demands and expectations are set high, and the work is currently mostly performed from home due to Covid-19, making team management a challenge. When entering a new and more demanding leadership role they are often expected to establish a more strategic way-of-working for the new responsibility area, secure the engagement in the team and among stakeholders and ensure an implementation of the transformation agenda.

Quite often leaders struggle with the described leadership transition. Based on my experience I see a number of reasons why transitioning to more strategic roles is challenging and why coaching is an excellent tool to boost the individual development.

  1. Many leaders repeat the previous leadership style and ways-of-working to ensure their success also in the future. Even if it certainly helps if they have faced similar situations before they will face a high risk of failure if they are not willing to challenge their thinking, reflect on the current situation and seek for support. Coaching will help leaders to think in new ways, challenging the old leadership behaviors and analyzing needed decisions. The coach will not alone solve your challenges but she or he can boost your creativity and openness to find new perspectives.
  2. Leaders´ work pace is extremely high, full of stress, and difficult tasks to manage. The problem is that working strategically takes time and effort and will not work unless the leaders prioritize their daily routines and work with their personal goals. Coaching has a great benefit of focusing on actions which needs to be executed. A coach can help the leader to prioritize and ensure things get done in optimal order. The essential part of each coaching sessions is the focus on action.
  3. Developing as a leader requires that a leader receives feedback, reflects constructively around it, defines how to shape his or her leadership and takes actions to close any potential leadership gaps. The issue is that many organizations are ineffective in managing individual feedback, support, and creating an environment for permanent change. Coaching provides a neutral, forward looking, and positive environment to foster new leadership behaviors which are based on self-reflection, innovation and concrete daily situations.

How to meet the unexpected

The benefits of coaching for the employees are obvious. It also helps companies to develop their talents, increase employee engagement and strengthens talent retention. During times of uncertainty, as in current situation with Covid-19, it also increases company´s proactiveness and readiness to meet the unexpected.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized in supporting companies broadly when working with Talent Management issues including building new way-of-working and providing Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Executive Search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more about the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale

Mikko works as Executive Search and Talent Management Consultant in AIMS International Sweden. He is also a Certified Coach by International Coaching Federation (ACC).  Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader with a focus on Talent Management practices.

Coaching - development boost for talents

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Strategic talent management – Get started and fast (part 2)

I have previously written on why also smaller companies would benefit for implementing an agenda for strategic talent management. In this article I look further at the quick and easy-to-implement solutions to get up to speed with Talent Management.

Strategic talent management

Strategic talent management is all about the implementation of business strategy and business plan. It includes assessing current competences, both leadership and functional, and defining the future needs. The business value is generated through increased transparency, people related risk mitigation and executing agreed development actions.

The impact of the pandemic

Today we witness an increasing interest to build up a coherent strategic agenda for people related issues. The ongoing pandemic has made it concrete for many of business leaders that succession and risk mitigation plans must be in place. At the same time, we see that employment market for the top talents in number of areas is still booming.

Our 5 step process

When working with our clients who lack previous experience in building talent management agenda, we put lots of focus on setting up a process and delivery which creates short benefits and a good basis for the future development. The clients want the process to be easy to implement, easy to understand and quickly in place. So how to make this happen:

The typical process could look like the following:

  1. Understanding the company specific expectations and requirements (CEO, HR and/or Management Team discussion). Usually, the clients want to assess the most critical competences, both leadership and functional, and defining the future needs and at the same time mitigate and evaluate the risks the Client might face if losing the critical people.
  2. We evaluate our AIMS International standard process and decide on the scope and necessary adjustments. Our Talent Management approach includes templates, processes, instructions, analytics, follow-up/actions plans and summary presentations which can be modified to meet the specific needs of the client.
  3. We Support in implementation of TM process – we agree in each case on what kind of support the client needs. We can train and coach managers (sometimes also HR) to run the process smoothly. Usually, we facilitate critical management team discussions to keep the discussion focused and relevant.
  4. We help the client to prepare an action plan and, sometimes, we participate the follow-up actions such as identifying a mentor or coach, building up a talent pool or supporting managers in development actions.
  5. We prepare a report to BoD/CEO/Management team and, if needed, can support in presenting the outcome of TM process.

We believe, by applying our methods we can reach a high-quality result within a short timeframe. Also, most of the Clients can apply the way-of-working in coming years and run the process in the future by themselves.

We at AIMS International Sweden are specialized in supporting companies broadly when working with talent management issues including building new way-of-working and providing coaching, leadership assessments and executive search. Please contact us in AIMS International Sweden in case you want to hear more from the solutions we can provide.

Mikko Taipale works as Executive Search and Talent Management Consultant in AIMS International Sweden. He is a member of Talent Management and Automotive & Mobility Global Practice Teams. Mikko works and is a certified leadership coach (ACC). Before starting in AIMS International Sweden he worked close to 20 years in large corporates as a HR leader with a focus on talent management practices.

Strategic talent management

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Vad CEO förväntar sig från sin CIO – fokus på ledarskap

Vi fortsätter på förra veckans tema kring förväntningarna på CIO baserat på vår inspirationspresentation för ett CIO nätverk i november. Göran Arvidson skrev förra veckan bland annat om affärsfokus och kommunikation.

Vad innebär detta för CIO´s personliga ledarskap och hur ska en CIO utveckla sin organisation för att bemöta förväntningarna från CEO på bästa sätt?

Vi ser att CIO ska representera sin funktion i väldigt olika sammanhang och ta en roll som ytterst ansvarig för att funktionen skall utvecklas utifrån företagets behov. Dessa behov är ofta kopplade till strategiska mål, kulturskapande samt operationella leveranser. Vi ser att förmågan att bygga och leda sitt team är helt avgörande om man lyckas med att bemöta VD och styrelsens förväntningar.

Baserat på våra erfarenheter är följande områden värt extra fokus när man bygger och leder sitt IT team.

Agilt ledarskap

Det finns en tydlig förväntan att CIO implementerar ett icke-hierarkisk, delegerande (ibland även kallat agilt) arbetssätt och ledarskap. Detta innebär kortfattat att medarbetare ges en större frihet och att dom själva får avgöra hur arbetet skall utföras, givetvis inom vissa ramar. Ledaren ska ge sin organisation alla förutsättningar för att agera snabbt och kunna ställa om och anpassa sig till omvärldens ständiga förändringar. Detta innebär rent praktiskt att ledaren måste både skapa och tydligt kommunicera kring de ramar som gäller och sedan låta medarbetare bestämma hur arbete utförs.

War of Talent

Dagens kompetenta medarbetare har flera arbetsgivare att välja mellan om dom inte trivs hos den nuvarande arbetsgivaren. Det sägs att det pågår en ”War of Talent” i talangmarknaden och vi ser fortsatt ökande konkurrens bland arbetsgivare. Förutom bra villkor förväntar sig medarbetare, i större utsträckning än tidigare, att ledaren aktivt planerar, coachar och stödjer individen när det gäller den personliga karriärutvecklingen. Detta är väldigt individuellt och ställer stora krav på att ledaren kontinuerligt måste följa upp förväntningarna hos varje enskild medarbetare i sitt team.  Det bästa sättet att säkerställa motivationen är att erbjuda varierande arbetsuppgifter, kontinuerligt ge möjlighet att utveckla sina kunskaper och lära sig mer. Det bidrar till att skapa en känsla av långsiktighet.

Vi tror att i den mer och mer digitaliserade världen kommer CIO´s inte bara vara en självklar funktion i ledningsteamet utan också en av flera potentiella kandidater till CEO rollen. Det gäller speciellt de företag som genomgår en omfattande transformation i form av digitalisering som, förutom det interna arbetssättet, också påverkar kundbeteenden samt företagets grundläggande affärsmodeller. Detta innebär att dom mest framgångsrika CIO´s med fokus på affärsutveckling och kommunikatiion också måste rusta sig för att kliva in i en roll som CEO.

Succesionsplanering

Detta leder till att CIO´n måste säkerställa att det finns efterträdare som är redo att ta över CIO-rollen när det blir dags. Ett viktigt fokus blir därför att utveckla de individer som har potential att bli morgondagens bästa ledare – genom att bland annat driva talent reviews och skapa transparens genom tydliga utvecklingsplaner samtidigt som man säkerställer kontinuitet. Vi har tidigare publicerat en artikel om det här för att visa små och medelstora bolag om att flertalet styrelser förväntar sig att VD´n har en fungerande kontinuitetsplanering också när det gäller deras talanger.

Sammanfattningsvis, en CIO behöver vara inspirerande och en förebild genom att utveckla, coacha och förbereda morgondagens ledare, specialister och medarbetare. Vi på AIMS International Sweden har många års erfarenhet av att stödja ledare i den här typen av uppdrag – We FIND&GROW your leaders.

Mikko Taipale & Göran Arvidson

CEO förväntan på ledarskap från CIO

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I thought I was a perfect candidate

… but I was told I am overqualified – how to think?

Based on many coaching sessions with candidates I see some common questions coming up time after time. One of the hot topics in career coaching sessions for experienced and senior clients is how to think in a following situation:

You have applied for a position you really believe you are the perfect candidate for – you have all the formal functional requirements, you have had many years of experience of similar challenges and you have the needed leadership and management experience. Still, you were not even interviewed or, if you did, did not get an offer. The popular feedback from many recruiters is that you are overqualified. Or in other words, the employer does not believe this is the right level for you and you would probably get bored or demotivated because the job would not provide enough challenges.

How should I think?

First, you may choose to agree that you were overqualified. This means that you accept that you made a mistake, and the job would most likely have not been a right fit and you should never have applied. This means that you need to go back to your own expectations, requirements, competence, and experience and revise your job search strategy.

However, it is quite common that you disagree with the recruiter. When you have had very senior assignments in the past you might feel inspired when working more operationally or having a smaller team. You sincerely applied for the job with a true believe that the company and role description would exactly meet your expectations. You wanted to have this position, not a  at a higher level or providing more complexity, higher management level or huge salary increase. In my coaching sessions I see disappointment and even anger when you were disqualified as overqualified.

After receiving such feedback, I suggest you get over your disappointment and negative feelings and revise your job search strategy. Situations vary of course a lot but here are my top take-aways after many years of career coaching.

  • I believe the most critical item is to analyze what kind of jobs you want to apply to taking into consideration that you can sometimes be regarded as overqualified. This is needed to create clear limitations meaning which ones of your requirements are “must haves without compromise” and “nice to haves with some flexibility”.
  • You need to communicate why you want to have the particular position. Your CV and Cover letter need to be updated to reflect this. The best way is to express what is your personal desired potential of the role. As an example, if you have +20 years of experience on managing IT projects and the requirement is minimum 5 years, you already know that you risk being regarded as overqualified. My proposal would be that you clearly identify the arguments supporting your job application such as learning new products or working for a company within your specific interest area.
  • Having the feeling of being a perfect candidate might be both good and bad in the interview situation. You may sound very trustworthy and competent, but you might also risk for be perceived as arrogant with a “know-all” attitude. Therefore, you need to practice your interview skills and techniques.

To sum up, in practice, this means that you only apply for the positions you really want, feel motivated for and can be transparent both to yourself and the recruiter why you want to have the job. In interview situations you will need to demonstrate high motivation, collaboration skills, openness towards new learnings and cultural adaptiveness.

By following these steps, you work proactively against the argument of being overqualified and reduce the risk of losing an opportunity you really want.

When you work on your strategy, finetune your CV and cover letter and practice your interview skills you will increase your chances remarkably. A good career coach can help you with these areas and challenge your current way of thinking and support you to  perform better in your search for your next assignment.

We, at AIMS International Sweden, ensure major focus on supporting that our clients always find the best available candidate to each position. By doing this we continuously interview the candidates with various experience and secure that we understand both the employer and candidate expectations. We are always transparent when sharing the feedback to our candidates and very often provide individual career coaching as a part of our Candidate Management Process. Through our Talent Management Solutions, we put extra focus on coaching and supporting onboarding and making sure that our candidates will perform in their new assignments.

overqualified

Mikko Taipale                                                                                                  

Senior Consultant
Executive Search and Talent Management

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