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Entering a new market and seeking to hire a winning team is laced with difficulties.

September 22nd 2021

Change ManagementWe are inspired by the recent events pertaining to one Cristiano Ronaldo and the Manchester United FC. From the outset in no way do we draw any comparison or conclusions here, and wish you to picture this possible scenario. So you are a member of a high profile executive team engaged within the super competitive financial services sector. Enjoying global brand recognition and having occupied top 20 status for as long as we can remember, traditional revenues have flat lined for the past few years with the Board having recently decided to enter the rapidly developing crypto finance space.  

From experience a Headhunter will be mandated to secure the interest of a number of "rainmakers" that dominate the crypto finance sector with the view to establishing a team charged with the development of this new revenue stream. How to attract them is not the purpose of this article, more how to manage the career expectations and egos of the existing (and incoming) talent. Typically they will enjoy many years of tenure, having successfully navigated their way to the upper echelon of this organization, enjoying all the trappings that comes with consistent success, only for this disruptive force to emerge.

Similar to the highly respected Manchester United footballers who are adored by fans everywhere, the word of Ronaldo's homecoming would be received with much fanfare as would the news of our financial services institution foray into the crypto market. 

What a tremendous outcome for a team that has not won an EPL title since the 2012-13 season. Collectively there was much jubilation amongst the Manchester United players, however deep down as the love that each player possibly takes for granted starts to wane, a different mood probably hangs in the air. Allow us to make a critical point here for we can only surmise the validity of the points being made. 

Turning back to our crypto finance case study, from experience we have engaged in a number of campaigns with clients seeking to develop new markets, and as the reader might imagine the briefing sessions can take some interesting turns. There is rarely an issue pertaining to the detail (hard facts) however where clients typically stumble is when asked the following questions.

a) What consideration have you given to the existing culture and the impact of this new market entry?

b) Have you taken into account how your existing teams might be affected by the hiring of these specialists?

c) What steps have you taken to ensure the incoming talent will be universally welcomed into your organization, and free of any possible conflict?

d) Change management is a difficult process to navigate. Have you decided on an optimum strategy that ensures the move into a new market is met with optimism and free of internal resistance? 

In my view this is where leadership comes into play. I suspect on some occasions once the decision is made to boldly enter the crypto finance space management will delegate the necessary soft functions as described in (a-d) above to their Human Resources team to manage. In our view this strategy is fraught with danger for successful transitions such as the one described here requires a top down approach. Allow me to reflect on a situation that took place in Australia a few years ago. 

Following the merger of two financial institutions our team was invited to discuss a proposed hiring strategy with their newly amalgamated senior management. It was noted that only HR was represented. Much of the discussion centered around the challenges associated with change management and that we needed to keep these firmly in mind when undertaking our search and selection process. 

A couple of years later when notified by several key executives of their need to embark on career change, the underlying factor related to the unsatisfactory manner in which the merger took place. It was discovered that despite the emphasis placed on effective and robust change management during our briefing, management "dropped the ball." 

Let's give credit where credit is due. Following 2,000+ hours of work by ex McKinsey, Deloitte and BCG consultants specializing in change and project management, a change management toolkit was developed enabling organizations to greatly improve their capabilities. Regarded as one of the more comprehensive tools available it takes into account a number of critical factors such as best practice, benchmarking, best use of templates, step by step tutorials and several other components, and in our view reinforces the need for organizations to carefully consider the ramifications of hiring talent when seeking to enter new markets. On the flipside significant consideration must be given to those executives that are being targeted for their drivers and that of the hiring organization might not be aligned. 

In closing high performers need to be part of a team. Clearly strong personalities, powerful egos and team dynamics need to be carefully managed when it comes to leading a high performing team. Getting them to unite and effectively participate together can be the difference between preferred or sub-optimal performance. Building the high performing crypto finance team begins well in advance of actual activity. A few critical success factors like hiring for fit, accurately assessing talent and building trust at the early stages of team formation can get your people pulling in the same direction. High performing teams don't happen by accident. They require you to focus deliberately on cohesion and trust to get them to perform.   




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