Thursday 19 March 2020

Is Covid-19 (Coronavirus) a catalyst for change?

We find ourselves in unprecedented times.  Change is not just necessary but inevitable.  Covid-19 as a global pandemic is gathering momentum with its peak not predicted for a few more months yet.  Schools are now closed until further notice and mass lock down looks likely. The ramifications are going to be huge.

Business Impact

The impact on all businesses is inescapable.  No one is immune from the health, family, social, business and economic impact the pandemic is and will have. The vulnerable and elderly are to be protected, business are sort of being helped, exams have been cancelled with a huge impact on the people due to sit them and move on to the next stage in their lives, although with food and medical and the supply chains needing to remain operational some will escape the worst of it.    

Economic impact

It is too early to predict what the fallout from this will be but early predictions are for a global recession, the likes of which could be far deeper and uglier than the last financial crisis.  Stock markets have tanked, exchange rates are down, values of companies have been slashed and pensions etc. are a worry. Unfortunately, there are going to be many businesses that won’t survive this pandemic and there are others that will be transformed.  This could be the beginning of a new way of working for us all.  Although Government intervention with £330B sounds impressive, I don’t think grants or loans will help long term because this money currently needs paying back.  If the Government gives it as aid, the money has to come from somewhere and most likely in the form of increase in income tax, corporation tax, VAT etc.

Social impact

All our lives are on hold.  Sporting, social, family and business gatherings have been cancelled. Our elderly and vulnerable are going to feel isolated, alone and frightened.  We should all do what we can to help those in need and put the extra effort in to stay in touch and help them.

Many have moved to remote working where possible.  This in itself is no problem but there are plenty of jobs where that’s not possible.  Where it is possible, technology comes in to play here and we have been talking for some time about utilising technology to enable smarter working and now we are forced to make this work.  For those who already work from home/ hot desk, it won’t make too much difference, although previously it was optional.   This is likely to open a can of worms for those that get used to working in this way and see the benefits.  When we are over this, what is the advice that should be given from a HR prospective? Will remote / flexible working become the new norm?

Climate change – the positive impact

Every cloud has a silver lining.  The impact on climate change is going to be a positive one due to the immediate reduction in travel on a local level and globally which will help offset some of the negative impact that’s coming.  The downside of course, is the businesses that rely on this to make a living and to keep people in jobs. The airlines, hospitality, leisure industries are going to be hard hit but where do we draw the line at Government intervention?  If you do it for one, morally you should do it for all.

IR35 delay helps for now but more should be done

The delay of IR35 for 12 months is a small reprieve but more needs to be done in terms of its revision, implementation and general catch all.   It does however allow private sector businesses to utilise short term, flexible experienced interims to help restructure, change, transform, turnaround or provide practical business experience, HR advice etc. I think this will be needed more than ever as organisations come out the other side and (depending on the lock down scenario) will need it to get them through these uncharted waters.

Engage with the experts

The benefit of using experienced executives on a short term basis is to impart their knowledge and expertise on how to navigate through this as they have been there before. They can then be fully utilised for either restructuring, turnaround, change or enabling BAU.

Few business and political leaders have had to lead through a pandemic of this nature nor deal with the economic fallout.  Several factors will come in to play including, how they deal with uncertainty, the structure and adaptability of their businesses, how they are affected personally and how agile they can be to what will be a new world. 

Perhaps now is the time to bring in the help to have any chance of survival and hold open the jobs, ride the return to normality wave and go on to prosper.  Panic is not the answer and indeed more consideration should be given to working through this. Change, transformation, restructuring and turnaround experts who can quickly get to grips with the issues, have expertise in crisis management, can advise Boards on the best course of action and implement and deliver the plan.  Waiting is not a strategy.  Adaptability, innovative thinking and willingness to change might just be the survival strategy that’s needed.   

By utilising the experts, many of whom are available, organisations of all sizes will be stronger and more resilient for the future upturn that will come.

Let’s talk. Please get in touch for further discussion.

Keep safe.


Wednesday 5 February 2020

A New Year, a new decade and a time for change.

It’s time to reflect.  Not just on another year gone but on the next 10-year horizon.

Economic growth should be stimulated now the UK has left the EU and entered a transition period until the end of 2020.  This, in theory provides at least 11 months of stability and with the shackles off, businesses can now finally plan with some certainty after previous deadlines were not stuck to and the UK remained stuck in Brexit limbo.

Businesses have responded quickly to the UK’s new political landscape according to a recent survey by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).  It suggests for example, that the services sector stabilised in December and that order books had picked up, with optimism at its highest level for 15 months.  This concurs with other surveys purporting that Britain’s economy is on course for a strong 2020. The services sector is particularly important because it accounts for around 80 per cent of the British economy.  It also happens to account for a large proportion of our client base.
Organisations need talent to grow and push forward with resourcing plans.  We are entering a period of significant change and the interim world has to adapt.  With the ongoing Brexit twists and turns and the immediate changes to the reforms to IR35 due in April 2020 to the private sector, there are currently more questions than answers.  I believe IR35 does provide an opportunity to ensure that interim assignments are more clearly defined and scoped with pre-determined timescales and objectives.   It reminds me of the ‘true’ interim market when this was the expectation and the norm before the new breed of interim became a thing, creating a ‘grey’ interim world where  it became a convenient route to a permanent role and over use of the title culminating in the growth of the ‘interim’ interim.

Our role is to consult with businesses that all face similar challenges and all need certainty and clarity to move their own organisations forward.   After all, how can we expect businesses to plan if they don’t know what they’re planning for? Resourcing is part of this planning process and certainly makes up the bigger picture when implementing New Year and new decade strategies.  Without the people to execute the plan, nothing happens. Without the flexibility and deliverables an Interim resource provides, the business can’t change.  Without the option of bringing in someone to take advice from, how are you sure the right decision or direction is being taken?
Doing nothing is not a strategy.  Businesses will continue to resource experienced executives in times of change, transformation, restructuring, crisis etc. but the reforms to IR35 quite frankly contradict the modern world we now live in where the effects of technology are quite profound.  Many organisation are becoming more automated regardless of sector, AI is growing and digital transformation is firmly on the agenda.  Flexibility is key. The next 10 years will bring about profound change and resourcing flexible talent must form part of the strategy.

For further information on Macallam Interim Resourcing or for a confidential discussion please contact Steven Wynne, Managing Director on 01423 804900 or  or visit


Thursday 19 December 2019

Creating the environment for Digital Transformation to be a success

For digital transformation to be successful, companies need to focus on six pillars beyond just thinking of digital transformation as “Tech-enabled change."

Change is only possible by building the right kind of organization and people are an imperative part of this. The six pillars of digital transformation include; experiences, people, change, innovation, leadership, and culture;

1: Experiences

Business must understand the customer journey, behaviours and expectations before investing in technology. These expectations should be the basis of any investment and the way to do this is to focus first on the customer’s experience. This is why companies like Disney, Apple, Starbucks and Nike have become iconic. They lead with experiences and they create deep connections with their customers that go beyond a product or service.

Don’t forget about the employee experience, either. Every interaction your employees have with your company is critical. Are the technology tools you’re providing helping them do their jobs? Is your culture making your workplace efficient and productive? The positivity of this experience has the potential to make or break the productivity and effectiveness of employees to your business.

2: People

People might be the most critical part of the six pillars of digital transformation. Without the right talent or without focusing on your employees, your organization will struggle. Critically leaders need to put employees first. Companies that invest in their people, commit to their development and respect their ideas build a loyalty that makes change management much easier to realize within the company.

As technology such as AI, VR, and AR gain momentum, the key is to use this technology to create meaningful experiences that reach employees, customers, and others on a deeper level – still connecting human to human.

It is also important to remember that talent is still critical, even with advancements taking some of the work. Employees should all be on the same page, to push your digital transformation efforts forward.

3: Change

Any transformation can’t happen without change. People must get behind change in order to realize it. You should go into your transformation, understanding first-hand that change is inevitable—and it might be tough. Communicate your expectations to your employees. Develop a strategy to encourage change and deal with resistance at the same time. Provide the necessary tools and environment for employees to embrace and succeed in this change. If you do this effectively, it will lead you to the next of the six pillars of digital transformation.

4: Innovation

Transformation and innovation are not the same. To transform, there must be innovation. Innovation can be defined as a sudden spark of creativity that leads to the creation of something that changes the face of your business. These sparks can be more sudden or they can be incremental. Some of these innovations are massive and completely disruptive of business models while others make a small and meaningful difference that increases customer satisfaction or differentiates an offering in the market. Regardless, the implementation of innovative thinking throughout an organization is key to transformation.

Innovation requires a space of open communication, collaboration and freedom to create. Innovation should be constant, your business always working to further its products or services. Innovation also drives the digital transformation forward by allowing for open space for problem-solving when the going gets tough.

5: Leadership

Leadership can come in many forms, but if you want the organization to change, it must come from the top. In an article for Forbes last year, it was found that the majority of tech initiatives fail when the CEO is not involved. However, the CEO should not only be involved, but he or she should lead.

Leaders should be proactive and on the lookout for things coming down the pipeline. As technology moves quickly, there is no time to wait. As a leader, you should also bring order, instead of going with the flow. As much as technology can sound like the perfect plan, take your time to carefully examine all options. Think differently than the rest and lead others within your company to do the same. Don’t just follow the digital transformation crowd – lead it.

6: Culture

The past five pillars can all be wrapped up in one package and form your culture. When asked about where companies should start on a digital transformation journey quite often the question is framed as “What technology(ies) should we invest in to speed up our digital transformation effort”. However it is important to begin with “Culture! Digital transformation cannot survive without the right business culture. By creating an open space where employee and customer experiences reign supreme, where people matter most, change is planned for and innovation takes centre stage, you will then lead your organization into a culture that simply transforms on its own.

These six pillars of digital transformation are the backbone for success.  Focusing on these pillars in addition to technology will help your company get ahead of the competition and avoid failure.

 By Duncan Carter, Director Macallam Talent Resourcing.



Wednesday 19 June 2019

Cognitive Bias


One of the earlier interim industry benefits (>10 years ago, before the 2008 financial crisis), was an independent interim’s ability to challenge client ‘cognitive bias’, for example, by suggesting better solutions to ‘the way things are done around here’.

The interim’s ability to tactfully challenge came from experience across many clients and, especially, many sectors.

Client Challenge Example
I recently challenged cognitive bias at a Contracting industry client. Long-standing family and industry mind-sets and practices were tested to create new solutions collaboratively.
Example solutions included technologically advanced (for a ‘basics’ industry), end-to-end digital transformation of core processes and clean data sources for better decision making, having endured paper-based processes and dirty data for many years.
Imagine, if you will, basically educated road workers using mobile devices to capture risk assessment evidence (photos), to track job workflows and to reschedule work priorities; quite a transformation!

The client also turned around from loss-making to profitable in nine months on the back of this, and other cognitive bias challenges.
Commodity Driven Candidate Selection                                       
The Interim Service Provider (ISP) challenge to clients’ mind-sets via their selected candidates appears to have taken a back seat in recent years. It has been replaced by narrowly specified candidate sector experience and CV brokerage introduced from contractor/commodity recruitment practices.

Interims now tend to meet with clients via ISPs selected for client sector fit rather than the ability to champion change and transformation based on broad skillsets and agnostic sector experience.
I think this practice does not well serve UK PLC and the client-ISP-interim industry.

As one respected interim recruiter put it recently: “'More of the same' only results in 'more of the same'.”
IR35 Likely Effects

An evaluation of the proposed 2020 IR35 changes is a likely dramatic impact on the current interim and contractor industries.
There will be a confirmation of independent interims outside IR35; and contractors becoming ‘part and parcel’ of the client and inside IR35, effectively employees.

The New (former) Interim Approach
The commodity-based marketing practices which entered the interim space ten plus years ago will be replaced, if not already, by consultative approaches to client solutions, above, say, £700 per day interim rates.

Multiple CVs emailed to clients will become passĂ©, and ‘chats over coffee’ will make a comeback for both ISPs and interims to more fully explore solutions to critical client problems.
One recently visited IIM Platinum recruiter said he does not send CVs to clients, preferring to book coffee slots for clients to see three interims he knows can do the job.

I encourage clients and interims (when in an assignment, as clients) to take up this approach and ask ISPs to send interims they trust and know can do the job, rather than wade through copious CVs to select people, to then see as well.
Why should clients do all the work?

Perhaps this new approach could also serve clients in contractor selection?
Client Education

Key to a transition away from CV brokerage to chats over coffee with interims known to be able to do the job is client education.
Interims (per the IIM Surveys) find 60% of their assignments themselves, and ISPs the remaining 40%.

In my view, both interims and ISPs must educate clients in new ways of getting the best ideas, talents and capabilities for critical client change and transformation needs.
All three parties in the interim industry will win by preferring a consultative interim industry approach over client CV filtering.

ISPs will need to let go, though, of their fear of losing business by not sending many CVs to clients just in case they might send the right one.
ISP Branding

Another interim recruitment group I recently met has for quite some time separately branded their interim and contractor businesses not to confuse clients, and to focus consultants with the right skills on the right approach that fits the required client solution (interim or contractor).
Risks to Avoid

A risk I see (and two other ISPs recently visited), is the commoditised approach to interim engagement lacks sustainability.

Larger consulting houses (to whom commoditised CV brokering is anathema to their business models), will gain further market share in value-adding change and transformation work; and perhaps the interims too.
Another risk is interims forming interim practices with marketing capabilities to build on their 60% self-sourced engagements.

ISP Recommended Changes
A question for ISPs: how are you discerning, separately branding, marketing, and appropriately resourcing with skilled consultants client offerings?
For example:
  • Do you make a distinction between interim and commodity approaches in your recruitment processes – are they clearly defined, or confused – to best serve the client base?
  • Should your interim and contractor/commodity offerings have separate brands?
  • Are your consultants then working with the right approaches and client connections?

It is difficult to challenge client cognitive bias (a major client benefit) in a CV. However, half-hour chats with clients about their challenges and discussing, among other things, ways other industries solve similar problems is where enhanced interim industry value-add will be gained.
All three parties (client-ISP-interim) will then be served better, and the reputation of the interim industry will grow in response because of the progression to a consultative approach.


Of course, consultants do challenge cognitive bias. However, they lack the hands-on and in-depth leadership engagement that interims are renowned, to see what is happening deep inside clients’ businesses.
Article by Simon C Jones, Interim Finance Director/IIM Director






Wednesday 1 November 2017

Restrictive covenants – careful wording or a waste of time…….

Most contracts of employment have clauses which are collectively referred to as Restrictive covenants and these cover non-compete, non-solicitation and non-poaching.

Whilst these clauses take various forms, their purpose is to protect and safeguard the legitimate commercial interest of the business with a significant emphasis on the client base and preventing former employees from doing untold damage to a business by poaching customers, setting up in competition and recruiting former work colleagues.

Non-compete clauses prevent a former employee from competing with their previous employer, non-poaching clauses restrain a former employee from hiring former colleagues and non-solicitation clauses stop former employees from taking steps to encourage clients away from their former employer.

Whilst that all sounds quite straight forward, most such clauses then go into further detail in terms of the distance or radius in which you are prevented from setting up in competition or time scales within which you can’t approach clients or former colleagues.

At this point, the issue becomes less clear cut because whilst you can make the clauses so onerous that the person can’t do anything, the possibility is that in doing so, the clauses become so unreasonable that they become unenforceable.

It is common practice when a person leaves a business and the Company acknowledges receipt of the resignation that they will be politely reminded about their restrictive covenants and of the possible consequences if they should step out of line…..and often CEOs and MDs will say – at least that will send a “warning shot across the bows”.

Whilst, the Courts are not averse to enforcing well-drafted and reasonable restrictive covenant clauses against former employees, the emphasis is on the careful wording and the interpretation of the word “reasonable”. On the one hand this destroys the myth that such clauses are not worth the paper they are written on but the legal costs of bringing such actions can be prohibitive – begging the question – what price do you put on protecting your business?

Some say that by making such clauses as robust and restrictive as possible, this will act as a deterrent. Dare I suggest that it is not uncommon for employees to have such clauses in their contracts and because of their legal speak wording, they don’t actually understand what they are prevented from doing. Sales people tend to focus more on the commission clause than their restrictive covenants! Maybe that’s because sales people are not renowned for doing detail?

The business should be clear about what it is trying to protect – client listings, technical expertise, system or process design……Business is about relationship building – we build relationships with our clients because if we don’ they won’t do business with us and we build relationships with work colleagues. Such relationships may stray outside work and you can’t prevent a former employee meeting with an ex-client for a coffee. However, when that former employee tries to entice the client away from one Company and transfer their business to another Company, the restrictive covenants will cut in.

The employment contract should be drafted to include clauses which include restrictive covenants designed to protect legitimate business interests and, therefore, should be reasonable in all senses of the word.

It is not uncommon in some situations, often related to signing a settlement agreement, where the business will agree to release the employee from restrictive covenants. I recall a situation many years ago when drafting a settlement agreement, I asked the CEO if he was happy to release the employee from his restrictive covenants to which he replied “Adrian…..the guy was so ***** useless, the competitors are welcome to him”.
Article by Adrian Berwick

Adrian Berwick provides HR support for business and if you want any support on issues relating to restrictive covenants, contact Adrian on 07885 714771 or e-mail





Tuesday 7 March 2017

The Importance of Being Earnest

Brexit, Trump, Leicester winning the Premier league, the passing of musical geniuses – the list goes on.  Let’s face it, we have had everything thrown at us in 2016 but there’s one thing that remains certain and that’s change.    We are living in uncertain times and this will inevitably affect the decisions of organisations and their appetite to forge ahead with plans.  This uncertainty is creating the need for change on the one hand but paradoxically is leading to inaction on the other due to an over cautious approach.   It would be a huge mistake for organisations to do nothing with the risk of  market share loss, acquisition targets slipping through the net and losing key talent to name but a few.   

Leaving the EU is a mammoth task.   The globalisation of the UK is firmly on the agenda and although it will take years to go through this messy divorce, hopefully the UK will be stronger for it.  But what happens in the meantime?   It’s the uncertainty that will create problems as ‘projects’ are put on hold.  Clearly for businesses in crisis, something has to be done urgently but the need for an interim isn’t always for reasons of crisis management.   

Organisations in need of transformation, restructuring, project / programme management, business improvement or anything that results in change continue to need people to help drive them forward without distraction.  What has become prevalent  is the need to put a compelling case forward firstly as to why interim is the right/best solution and then it’s down to the interim to provide reassurance and a convincing pitch as to why they should be selected with some quantification around the return on investment (ROI). 

It matters now more than ever to make a difference but how can an interim executive ensure they make a ‘real’ difference and deliver in a way that meets with expectations? There are a number of skills, competencies and personality traits needed to succeed as an interim.  Here are a few;

Honesty – providing an open and honest account of the findings.  Interims are able to do this (on the proviso it’s delivered in a professional way) without fear of job security, weakening promotion prospects etc.  The value to management, shareholders, stakeholders and employees is immeasurable. Quite often the day to day gets in the way and organisations can’t see the wood for the trees.

Delivery – hugely important and ultimately will be the basis of measurement of how successful the assignment has been.

Speed – expect to be parachuted in to new environments, grasp what the business does, build relationships often with customers, suppliers, and subcontractors and address the issues causing the challenges.  The problem should be solved and solution implemented as quickly as possible.

Objectivity – an impartial view of analysis undertaken provides the leadership team with a balanced, honest opinion without the person delivering the message having another agenda. 

Coaching / Mentoring - this is always part of the brief whether or not it’s been clearly defined.  This can be for members of the leadership team, management team or just generally a style that should be adopted when leading people for the short term.

Engaging with stakeholders – interims often find themselves in quite complex scenarios with multiple stakeholders that have to be taken on the journey.  Building relationships is part of the remit.

Communication – can’t be emphasised enough.  Any change programme’s success is dependant on how engaged the people are. 

Don’t get drawn in to BAU issues – the reason the client has engaged an interim in the first place is because they don’t have the internal capacity or capability to solve the problem.   If the interim finds themselves in a firefighting situation, they are likely to take their eye off the ball from the original set of objectives.

Confidence and gravitas – the fact that someone has embarked on a career as an interim is borne from having achieved and delivered during a corporate career at board, functional or in a business leadership capacity.  This knowledge and experience should enable the interim to tackle challenges with the necessary agility and be chameleon like in approach.  

Managing the exit – once the agreed objectives have been delivered it’s important to manage an exit at the appropriate time.  The interim should avoid hanging around unnecessarily as this will quickly diminish the value created from the good work undertaken. 

Leaving a legacy – be remembered for the right reasons.

This is all underpinned by the raison d'ĂȘtre of adding value, making a difference and ensuring a return on investment.   It’s the little wins that can make the biggest difference and mopping up the unexpected problems where the interim can go the extra mile.

In order to ensure a successful assignment for all parties it’s important to be honest and how this is delivered will determine the added value in the long term.  After all, the results of this assignment will determine the reference received and how quickly the next one is secured.

For further information or a confidential discussion about how we can help please contact Steven Wynne on 01423 704153 or email