Value in Focus: Make a Difference

In earlier posts I have talked about how, with purpose set, our values guide our behaviours and consequently the experience people have when we are partnering with them. Once people understand the positioning of each of our brands, it is our underlying motivation (why / purpose) coupled with our behaviours (culture guided by values) that truly creates a USP.

Having unpacked our purpose and why our values are important to us, this series will take each of our values in turn and outline how we aspire for them to influence and shape the experience and outcomes for each of our key stake holder groups: our Clients, Candidates, Colleagues and Community.

Next up: Make a Difference

When we were defining this value, key words and phrases associated included; impact, move forward, add value, measurable improvement, purposeful, achievement orientated, challenge, playing our part. Simply put, when we turn up we want our time and input to count – we want to make a positive contribution. As with all our values, it starts with how we work with each other and extends to our approach and expectations when we work with external stakeholders.

As ever, our purpose sets the ‘true north’ for everything we do: We are here to advise and support people and organisations to realise their potential, so that together we can impact lives and communities for the better. Our values then inform ‘how we do what we do’ on a human level.

To bring this to life let’s look at how this value impacts each of our stakeholder groups:

Make a Difference for our Clients

Time and again we hear that our focus on the impact of our appointments is why clients choose to work with us.

We start every process gaining a deep understanding of what measurable outcomes a client is looking for and over what timescale. We then reverse engineer everything we do from this point.

Depending on which of our brands is involved this might be about a CEO delivering an exit, improved financial decision making, reducing cost and risk across a global supply chain, or the delivery of a specific transformation project. Ultimately we know that our reputation is not built on ‘filling jobs’ but on the positive difference that the appointed candidate makes in the organisation.

This often leads to deeper fact finding meetings and more challenging up front conversations than many clients are used to. We need to understand your market, your strategy, your goals, and the specific deliverables an appointee will be held accountable for. Often this leads to the rewriting of job descriptions and improved onboarding and appraisal processes thereafter. Given our understanding of the market, we will give our opinion on what is possible and what is not within the parameters our clients’ set. We are not ‘yes people’.

Beyond our rigorous focus on the impact of the appointments we make, we are committed to helping our clients realise their ambitions and are often involved in helping build employer of choice brand proposition, market research, strategic introductions and increasingly through our evolving service proposition in the area of human potential.

 Make a Difference for our Candidates  

We start each candidate relationship with the desire to understand what makes that person tick and what their long-term aspirations are. We want to play our part in helping them realise their potential, not just in finding their next job.

Helping someone secure a new role can have a transformational impact on their career and life, for good or ill. It is therefore a real privileged to advise people in this area and one we take incredibly seriously – getting it right is so important. We want to make a positive difference!

When we were defining our purpose as a group, many of the stories that our people shared were of the sense of pride and achievement they felt when a candidate shared the difference the consultant had made to their life in helping them secure the right role or indeed in not taking the wrong one.

Beyond the core recruitment aspect, we advise candidates on long-term career planning, interview technique and the best ways to present their credentials to potential employers. We proactively connect likeminded individuals for peer to peer learning and run numerous career development and networking events and virtual networking sessions. We want to share our knowledge and network to help people move forward and take great pride in the difference we make in helping people realise their goals.

Many of our best client relationships started as candidate relationships and we often see this as the greatest testimony to the difference we have made to their careers and, of course, another avenue through which to ‘make a difference’.

Make a Difference for our Colleagues

As with so many of our values, it is often through living out the others that the individual value comes to life. For example, commitment to ‘be famous for excellence’ and ‘together we achieve more’ often leads to clients referring work to a new division of the business on the back of exceptional delivery elsewhere. Clearly this makes a difference to the colleague receiving the new introduction and provides connection for the client to the best person in our business to deliver for them hopefully continuing this positive spiral.

As I have mentioned before, we are fortunate to have some of the most experienced people in their fields in our business, we also have a number of the highest potential future stars. Mentoring, and reverse mentoring, is a natural part of our culture, both formally and informally. We all enjoy seeing the ways that we can help each other get better.

To bring this to life, in the teeth of the recent crisis our less experienced, but significantly more tech savvy colleagues helped us transform our digital processes at a pace that we simply would not have managed without them. Similarly, our more experienced people were able to draw on previous experience to help shape response to a rapidly changing situation. Each group responsible for and making a significant difference to the other.

Make a Difference for our Community

We define ‘community’ as the social and environmental causes that are important to us.

Tangible ways to measure difference we make in the community include looking at the money we raise and invest and crucially the impact that money has. As an example, in 2019 we spend our corporate away day running a number of the Marie Curie stores across Glasgow. This included collecting for and refreshing their stock rooms, dressing the shop fronts, and selling in stores through the day. As independently assessed by the area manager, that day we helped fund 360 hours of nursing care for terminally ill people and their families in Scotland.

Beyond fundraising a number of our colleagues make a huge difference by giving their time to serve community and charity initiatives close to their hearts and as an organisation we contribute by giving everyone two fully paid days to invest in an area of personal choice. Examples include giving CV and interview advice to school children, formal mentoring through MCR Pathways, board membership of Piper GroupTennis ScotlandProject ScotlandGood Morning Service and The Wooden Spoon.

So far in 2020, pre-lockdown we helped organise a dinner that raised £53,000 for The Wooden Spoon. Determined to continue to make a difference in our communities through the crisis, so far we have organised our third sector trustee forum in partnership with SCVO, ran the Virtual North Coast 500 for Social Bite, Samaritans & Good Morning Scotland and co-ordinated lunchtime yoga for the NHS crisis fund.

If working with a purpose and values-led search provider is of interest to you please get in touch and we will connect you to the right colleague. Our shared purpose and values provide consistency of approach across our group, our bespoke brands and business models ensure that solutions are tailored to your specific needs.

Livingston James Group is a portfolio of specialist executive search and talent advisory businesses comprising: Livingston JamesRutherford Cross ; Drummond Bridge; and Hamilton Forth.

Jamie Livingston is Group Chairman and CEO.

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