Robert L. Benson
Spencer Stuart Expands Cultural Resources
The importance of “cultural fit” as a key to placement retention generates a great deal of talk in the executive search industry. One of the big names in the search business recently drove the point home even more forcefully by putting its money where its mouth is: Spencer Stuart has announced plans to acquire a number of culture-oriented businesses from Aon.
The planned purchase will add resources and expertise in culture and engagement, leadership development and other products and services generally lumped under the cultural umbrella. In announcing the deal, Spencer Stuart was direct in its explanation of the logic behind the deal.
The single greatest lever in improving an organization’s agility and performance, the firm said, is people – people galvanized and mobilized by leadership, engagement and culture. That analysis mirrors what many top search professionals increasingly cite as an absolutely critical component of a valuable service offering. Clients want far more than acceptable candidates from search professionals. They demand committed partners in building the capable, committed leadership teams that create and sustain superior performance, no matter how tough the competitive landscape or the pace of change and disruption they face.
Collectively, the elements of success cited by Spencer Stuart comprise a competitive advantage in generating the innovation and higher productivity that not only fuel a stronger bottom line but also foster a loyal workforce, from top to bottom. “Many leaders are looking for more systematic approaches to evaluating culture, personal fit and culture impact,” as Spencer Stuart’s report notes. Cultural insight translates into better decisions in hiring and advancing leadership talent. It makes leadership transition more manageable and raises retention levels. It breeds leaders who understand culture and its importance to organizational performance.
Such observations have important implications for the entire search industry. If clients increasingly recognize the power of culture in shaping performance, the question becomes: How do we best deliver that cultural understanding?
Not every firm has the financial resources of a Spencer Stuart. But all firms have the capacity to make it a priority to dig deep to understand the client brand – the value offering, values and principles that guide the organization and define its culture. It’s not an easy task. But it’s certainly becoming an essential element of earning the trust-based partnerships that lead to bigger, better and more lucrative search assignments.