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Heroes for all seasons

The business world is an exciting place to be. It is full of surprises, unplanned twists and unpredictable happenings. Much can be planned and a great deal can be avoided, but one factor remains pivotal to the system:

The human factor.

Ultimately, it is people that keep certain things moving and stop other things in their tracks.
We devote all our passion to this one critical consideration. Quite simply, people find us good – because we are experts at finding people.

We find and recommend experts who ride heroically to the rescue.

As part of the Kerkhoff Group with outstanding references and a comprehensive service portfolio, we know what makes businesses tick, markets respond and processes work.

Our many years of experience allow us to present "your" experts to you both quickly and efficiently. We fill executive roles with suitable line and project managers in the field of procurement/purchasing, SCM, logistics, production as well as finance/monitoring and general managerial roles - ad interim or in permanent employment. This is precisely the case when the requirement for professional competence, implementation and leadership strength is particularly high; in vacant key roles, digital transformation, in the course of a regulated company succession or simply to "save the universe". We bring together what belongs together.

What sets us apart in filling managerial roles and an interim management mandate?

Manager and Interim Manager for our client companies

You are looking for an experienced partner who will be fully committed to you – and we love a challenge. We are genuine team players who have the best contacts to ‘heroes for all seasons’.

Since we operate at the sharp end, we recognise corporate hot spots and areas that need improvement – and as an integral part of the Kerkhoff Group, we can always draw on 20-plus years of consultancy experience and the combined expertise of partner companies. Our success is based, first and foremost, on recommendations from the individual network.

We are your experts when it comes to filling managerial roles in the long term, or for a limited period. Our track record is impressive – we are the leading provider, particularly when it comes to procurement, supply chain management, logistics, production, finance, monitoring and general management.

Be convinced by our no-obligation heroic solutions.

 

Managerial roles and interim management mandate for our “heroes”

Just as a good script appeals to an actor, you are open to new heroic deeds and keen to apply yourself and your skills. You are also well aware of your strengths and your responsibilities.

As a top address for deploying proven management staff and interim managers in the fields of procurement/purchasing, supply chain management, logistics, production as well as finance/controlling and general management, we have a whole host of exciting projects and vacancies for you.

Integrated into the Kerkhoff Group, we are constantly expanding our network with a broad client base – and are therefore constantly opening up exciting perspectives for the future for you.

We look forward to hearing from you and planning heroic missions together.

intelligence

As a specialist, we understand the requirements of our customers. We convert those needs into ultra-modern matching algorithms that pinpoint heroes with just the right superpowers.

focused

We never lose sight of the goal. As professionals, we act methodically, always looking at the big picture. We work persistently towards the ideal solution, not stopping until the mission is accomplished.

More than the bits, bytes and algorithms of our extensive database, we trust to our instincts and our selection process – which is admittedly sophisticated and multi-tiered. In this way, we guarantee to find the ideal candidates for your needs. Our focus remains on the person: after all, we are in the business of placing real personalities.

strong

Being at the top means showing your strength day after day. What we have in common with our candidates is that we make our superpowers totally available to our clients.

Given that our demands are high, we focus on the person behind the role. We make plenty of time for the admission process. Our level of diligent preparation benefits everyone involved and ensures we will continue to perform strongly and do a convincing job on your behalf.

fast

Success is never a coincidence. It is always the result of dedicated work. Our rapid approach leads to the desired quick results.

We work fast and with prudence – even when the going gets tough. We keep an eye on the overall picture to be able to help you effectively. When the hero arrives, we are amazed at what they achieve.

sensitive

Our sense of what is needed where and when is what sets us apart.

With the necessary intuition and sensitive assessment, we can discover the right hero for every adventure.

distinctive

When you work hard, you can be proud of what you achieve. Read for yourself what others have to say about us and our actions.

"Kerkhoff Experts employees have precisely the right intuition, especially in assessing the soft skills of the candidates and the personal fit into our organisation".

"We found it very helpful that Kerkhoff Experts dealt with our business model initially, and only then with the requirements of the role. This method provided us with valuable new ideas”.

“The candidate provided by Kerkhoff Experts performed real miracles in a difficult environment. We’re truly grateful”.

Contact

 

Stefan Uchtmann

Head of Research

Please get in touch so that we can discuss our next heroic deeds.

+49 211 621 80 61 - 125

s.uchtmann@remove-this.kerkhoff-experts.com

 

 

 

    

 

 

Yurda Burghardt

Co-Founder, Managing Director

If you need a hero, just call me. I look forward to hearing from you!

+49 211 621 80 61 - 32

y.burghardt@remove-this.kerkhoff-experts.com

 

 

 

Personal

I will share my experience in the fields of recruiting, leadership, company culture and new work here. This is my personal insight into the aspects that I’d be keen to share and discuss with you further.

The CEO as a “feel-good manager”

Or: how I avoid undesirable fluctuations and retain good employees in the long term

 

If talent is the raw material of the future, then companies must use the largest part of their energy to attract, engage and retain talent. This applies especially when “talent” is the scarce resource of the future.

Engaged, creative employees are required everywhere - but aren’t easy to find. In the “War for Talents”, many companies have a strong focus on the outside. They want to be seen as an appealing employer brand and to come across as interesting for external parties.  While this is essential, it’s only one side of the coin. My observation is that the search for external talents has led to the company’s own existing employees being forgotten. Companies that for years have had a negligible fluctuation rate notice all of a sudden that they are increasingly having to accept unwanted employee losses.

During times in which there is a shortage of skilled workers, companies would therefore be well advised to pay greater attention to the inside once more.  The most recent trend is to follow the US example in providing a feel-good factor and making working environments as pleasant as possible. All this is contained within a new job description - the "Head of People and Culture". This is based on the praiseworthy approach involving taking greater care of employee wellbeing and offering them a great deal in the process. Often, the role is held by young, charismatic employees. In the human resources field, they are located high up or report directly to management or the Executive Board as a staff function. They organise team events and strengthen team spirit - all in the interests of the employee.

The key task here is “active implementation of the company culture”. But what exactly does this terminology entail, and how is a company newbie supposed to know from their very first day what forms part of the company culture? The solution, in any case, is certainly not to look at the company’s guidelines and to encourage colleagues to put into practice what they have written down It takes time to understand the company culture, especially where a large, international organisation is concerned.  And what happens once the management or executive board has had all the cultural aspects written down but fails to act on them? Wouldn’t it be better to exemplify the culture from above? To provide some clarity, I’ll give you an anecdote from everyday life: The engineers of a large company are scarcely able to get to grips with their original core task, engineering performance, before all the meetings, reports and accounts: developing, testing and initiating new ideas, methods and products. Instead of simply cancelling 75 percent of the compulsory attendance meetings, there are workshops lasting several days on meeting culture in the five-star hotel. Agile procedures will be worked out, dos and don'ts will be determined and best of all, table displays will be covered with rules for the meeting rooms. The silent hope is to be quicker and to save around twelve times 15 minutes per meeting. This totals three worker hours. But what happens in real life? Management or the board are still arriving too late to repeat topics that they missed, they overturn resolutions, interrupt and do not listen to important aspects because their telephone call is now more important to them...

I bet you know where I’m going with this. What should the Head of People and Culture do in this situation? Company culture is so much more meaningful than an office football tournament and a happy hours bar.

This is why I’d urge you to make the top person in the organisation your Head of People and Culture.  Management, the executive board and the heads of division have to exemplify the culture, and utilise somebody who will oversee the implementation.  Only then does it makes sense to recruit a Head of People and Culture. Give your engineers and specialists, your experts and your talents the opportunity to do justice to the job advertisement you once drew up. Allow heterogeneous teams to uncover new approaches and solutions. Ensure a meaningful and appreciative company culture, room for making decisions and then for individual work concepts. Clearly visible measures are required in order to establish a culture of appreciation - for example, recognition rounds at the start of each meeting. Any progress in this direction on the part of the company will be rewarded with increased motivation and closer employee loyalty. Besides this, a global study by Office Vibe on the topic of employee engagement shows that companies with an established programme for employee appreciation have around a 30% lower fluctuation rate. 

This is how you retain people in the “War for Talents”, and find new ones. The work as a whole has to be in sync in order for the wellness range and team events to work - not the other way around. 

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Best regards, Yurda Burghardt,
March 2019

Three success factors

Or: What really matters with new executives

 

Until this point, there have been no huge surprises on the German management floors. Tailored suits in executive roles. The occasional woman - but not too many. "Good", streamlined CVs, consistency and willingness to perform all still form the classic selection criteria for managers. From their point of view, this provides companies with constancy, reliability and supposedly, freedom from risk.

But is this kind of standardisation what we need in companies today? In times of digitalisation and agility, increasing speed, adaptation of business strategies to fundamental changes and disruption of business models, different skills and competences are required compared with those of the past.

Why aren't genuine talents, lateral thinkers, fans of risk, people from outside the industry and fields of expertise, lateral entrants, freaks and geniuses desirable at a management level? Even though experts agree: anyone who wants to survive competition, be innovative, and be agile requires a high dose of these more oblique personalities in their leadership. 

The world is full of examples of how outsiders to the industry have created change: Jack Ma, English teacher, and the Alibaba Group, or a learned philosopher in Bergisch who has developed the family tools business into the global market leader. Pioneering impulses can come from many different directions.
 

Out-of-the-Box thinking desired

The largely still-traditional search structures in the companies at an HR level lead directly to this reality as we see it today. It’s not uncommon to see the same texts, which already worked with the last purchase manager for some years at least, being copied into the staff advertisement. OK, I admit, changes have been made: “We want” has become more of a “We offer”. A concession to the sense of entitlement. But what about new pathways? Heading away from straightforward thinking, out-of-the-box thinking, a departure from traditional search patterns and selection criteria. How would it be if we searched outside the sector or selected somebody who hadn’t held a comparable role in the past?

With our clients, we're seeing all too often that applicants are being rejected due to a lack of industry and professional experience or even due to a lack of regionality - wasted opportunities And candidates who have changed employers three times within seven years are automatically ruled out, without ever having undergone a personal interview.  Does this mean that our traditional “industrial” selection criteria are still the right ones? What is truly important when recruiting management executives?
 

Skills, personality, interests

Using my experience, based on countless search mandates for management executives, I can say: the selection of candidates is dependent on three essential factors: skills, personality and interests.

  • Skills: Rather than relevant work experience, it is the relevant skills that are crucial. Does a sales manager necessarily have to know the products and the specific market? Or is it sufficient if they have proven themselves in completely different industries and bring a new perspective, a new approach, new momentum and, above all, are able to build reliable and trusting relationships with people?
  • Personality: Obtaining an assessment of somebody’s personality can only really be done through a personal interview, rather than looking at application documents. Non-verbal communication can tell us a great deal. If they enrich the team, could the individual fit into the corporate culture ...?
  • Interests: Is a meteoric rise the only thing that matters? Or perhaps someone plays drums in a rock band, meaning that they can they set a rhythm and act with tact? Interests follow curiosity - and curiosity, in turn, leads to skills.


From practice

In my last report, I promised two examples of successfully utilising people from outside the industry, but in this report - due to its length - one example alone should suffice:

Our client - a medium-sized, producing company in the machine and plant construction industry - has been looking for a new managing director for some time. The candidate should have professional experience in the industry, have worked successfully as a managing director for several years, should have distinctive sales experience and correspondingly sound experience in leading and setting up international sales teams.

Following intensive discussions with our customer, we fundamentally overhauled the job profile. We defined the success factors for this role based on three criteria; skill, personality and interests. It may seem banal, but was extremely intensive work. However, it was straightforward and greatly simplified the search for and identification of suitable candidates.

The candidate who ultimately got the job would not even have been shortlisted based on the original requirements.

The 39 year-old German lives in Jakarta, has never previously worked as a managing director, is not an industry expert and failed as a freelancer using his business model.

But today, he is an asset to the business owner. He has set off a number of fresh impulses, partly precisely because he was not an industry expert. True to the motto: Everyone says: "You can't do that!", then someone comes along who didn't know that and made it all easy ...

His freelancing in Jakarta allowed him to develop a lively entrepreneurial spirit, thinking and acting in a way that was truly entrepreneurial. The failure of his own company taught him the meaning of crisis management and how important it is to value calmness and prudence. Resilience and humility are also clear strengths that are crucial for the role of a managing director, as are courage and the willingness to take manageable risks and assume real responsibility. His sense of openness, both in general and to the world as a whole, and insatiable curiosity led him to quickly familiarise himself with the business model and to efficiently understand what really matters: Rapidly grasping the critical success factors of the industry and aligning the company accordingly. He also has a strong interest in people and cultures.

This example certainly does not apply to all reappointments in general; rather, it's about showing that we should broaden our horizons. Questioning the traditional requirements, lateral thinking and finding the factor that is absolutely decisive for success. Especially if we are unable to draw on the full potential.

Have you ever experienced something similar, or do you know of any examples in which the classic path failed to add any value?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Best regards, Yurda Burghardt,
Novenber 2019

My holiday reading: Key tasks for management executives in the digital age, or what leadership must do to enable digitisation ...

 

“Digitisation does not mean the power of technology or algorithms, but concentrating on the essentials. That which only people can achieve”. This is how Dr. Reinhard K. Sprenger describes it in his book, “Radikal digital”. I read it during my summer holiday in Fuerteventura and would like to share valuable insights with you.

A personal experience to start off with: the media flooding of the terms digital transformation, digitalisation or disruption in magazines, daily newspapers, books, lectures, discussion groups and blogs has given me the impression that the topic is both omnipresent and concise - perhaps even central - on the agenda of most companies and is implemented in the same way.

The bare figures, however, show that media penetration is in fact a visual illusion. Only a few executives are actually involved in digital projects. So there is some catching up to do - but how do you start?

People at the heart

It all starts with people. Springer's book deals with the human side of digitisation. Humans, not technology, drive change. The human as a client outside the company and as an employee within the organisation. Digitisation means reintroducing the most important resource - humans - into companies. And this can take place once we (or companies in general) return to customer orientation, reorganise working together and structures as cooperation or collaboration, develop fresh new ideas and have the courage to experiment. And head back to our creativity, internally and externally. 

As I understand it, digitisation is a social transformation and requires a cultural change in companies. According to Sprenger, the core task of a manager is to link: people and technology, business model and organisation, old and new as well as internal and external. Traditional structures and values form more of an obstacle in this context. “Vatican structures”, as we find them at countless corporations today, must be fundamentally rethought. They should furthermore be adapted within the company so as to be certain that the indispensable/categorical customer focus is ensured. Anything that stands in the way has to be removed. “Look at the company from the client’s point of view”, as Sprenger’s motto puts it.

Changing requirements

Fluid organisations today work in project structures with heterogeneous, interdisciplinary project teams. Furthermore, it is not rigid and hierarchical, but horizontal, because departmental and functional thinking hinders genuine collaboration and innovation. In order to become light, quick and agile, managers are required who embody this mindset and inner attitude and consistently implement them - without exception. Because in a world of cooperation, there is no place for divas, egoists and individual players. Participating, involving, supporting others and sharing and networking knowledge - those are the only aspects that matter.

Break successful patterns

So where should managers direct their attention when selecting staff in these digital times? From my experience, I can specify two key aspects: customer-focused thinking and the ability to build relationships with people. My advice: allow individuality and uniqueness to prevail. Time and time again, I find that our clients define hard skills as a major requirement. Ideally, the regional candidates should also come from the same industry.

On the other hand, we have had very good experiences when we have implemented precisely the opposite. And in my next article, I will discuss concrete, exciting examples.

Best regards, Yurda Burghardt,
September 2019