You’ve just relaunched, and, as part of Hager's new brand identity, you’ve given yourselves the tagline: ‘The Human Potential Company.’ What was the thinking or message behind this?
Martin: Our new image is about documenting that we are more than just a personnel consultancy with a focus on executive search, but that we understand the topic holistically and approach it accordingly. The word potential is crucial in this triad. But let's start with the basics: Firstly, we focus generally on people and their development. But there are other exciting aspects as well. We moderate changes in their lives. We accompany them from a familiar environment to a new environment or job. To paint a better picture: We give them the chance to sprout again, to grow new flowers – something that might not have been possible in the existing environment because the pot was just too small. That is one aspect. In addition, we also support people who are not necessarily looking to change their job, but who say: I need new incentives, or I lack certain skills. In such cases we provide support in the form of coaching and training measures. Here, too, the aim is to develop their potential, and discover strengths they may not have been aware of.
Is this also a reaction to a world that is changing faster and faster?
Martin: Absolutely. Change is playing an increasingly important role. The speed with which this is happening is affecting many people. Some react with defensiveness. We are able to uncover people’s core skills or show them a development path to work out their hidden, often unconscious, potential. From there, we can steer them in the right direction. So, if you put all these aspects together – change, training, coaching – and condense them into one sentence, you get our tagline: “We are the human potential company.”
Oliver: As for Hager Executive Consulting, this describes in a coherent and pragmatic way that we advise executives on these different levels, but, in principle, we look after human potential. The same goes for recruiting. Even our customers are now looking for people who not only fill the current position, but who also have the potential to take the next steps. Which is absolutely right in an incredibly dynamic working world.
Thinking more long-term and planning more sustainably sounds like a huge mind shift, right?
Martin: That's right. There has been a lot of movement. Therefore, we have also redefined our values and vision. Our mission statement is: “At Hager, we strive to connect and inspire people with shared aspirations for meaningful leadership and growth.” This is where all these aspects come together: Growth, potential, leadership, and all its manifestations. This is our essence.
It takes a sixth sense to recognize the potential of a person. These are often people who are not aware of it themselves and are not yet in the spotlight. Hidden champions.Martin Krill, Managing Director at Hager Unternehmensberatung
Just how much things have changed can be seen from the fact that the term ‘human resources’ is now considered obsolete...
Martin: Today, this is summarized by a new department name used by many: People & Culture. These different manifestations can be simply described as potential – especially in our service portfolio. This is what is demanded of employees in today's working world. It's all about agility, flexibility, and a willingness to engage in lifelong learning. For us, in turn, this means we are in a position to develop these skills like a diamond in the rough. With some, it's obvious; they're clearly rising stars. In other cases, it takes a sixth sense to recognize the – and here's the term again – potential of a person. These are often people who are not aware of it themselves and are not yet in the spotlight. Hidden champions.
Do you have an example?
Martin: A few years ago, there was someone in my private circle. I encouraged (actually forced) him to take a management training course with Thomas Wetzel. At that time, he had already been working in the industry for many years in a team leader role but without any great ambitions and without knowing what he was capable of or what he was passionate about. The training course was a game changer, it triggered all the right motivational points. He came back to his job revitalized and took off completely from there. Since then, he has made huge strides forward in his development.
Oliver: That's a great example of enabling development. Before that, we talked about the ability to recognize dormant potential. There’s also a third dimension: conveying profiles that are unusual at first glance to customers who may not recognize potential right away, pushing our case, and showing that this is a match that benefits both. That is also one of our greatest strengths. Not everything can be represented by a resume. First impressions and interviews are more meaningful.
Would you say that this role of enabler is a new development, a different role to the past?
Oliver: Yes, definitely. In this respect, our job has changed a lot. For classic head-hunters who cast board members 30 years ago, it went like this: gray-haired men in pinstriped suits came to the appointment in their S-Class, often at the airport. You filled the job, or met the next pinstripe, 7 Series BMW, airport. Done. Then came the phase of hard-selling resumes. That's also over, especially since LinkedIn, Xing, and other job portals now do that. We, on the other hand, do what AI can't yet do – recognize human potential.
What does that mean for applicants if not only the market has changed, but also the requirements? Does less hierarchy, for example, also mean more personal responsibility?
Martin: Well, the market has changed, especially in recent years, in that employees have much less fear of contact within the company, even with technically more senior colleagues. That starts from the application or selection process, where there is a completely different sort of communication. There is more emancipation; Employees have a stronger voice and demand things. In other words, there has been a significant shift in the balance of power. Companies must adjust to this, especially People and Culture departments.
Has this already reached the companies on a broad scale?
Oliver: I would say that most of them have understood it, but there is still a problem with implementation. Training is still needed. Also, in terms of speed. The market is so time-sensitive at the moment that potential candidates can't wait four weeks for an initial interview.
To what extent has the importance of HR or, let's put it in modern terms, People and Culture, changed within companies? In the past, these positions – even on the board of directors – were often seen as underdogs, despite being the powerhouse of every company. After all, businesses are powered by bright minds...
Martin: I'll put it quite drastically: 20 or 30 years ago, people were put into HR who were useless for anything else. And that led to a situation where this role was only administrative and not creative. These departments didn’t have a strong voice in the company and were not seen as equals in the business. This is where we have seen a massive change. Many of these positions have been replaced and re-staffed because people have realized this thinking was outdated. We need different strategies; We need a different approach. This is already well advanced in the large international companies. Completely new types of roles are being created with different requirements that did not exist in the past. And this often creates different career paths and experiences.
Oliver: Let me tell you a little anecdote. I told an acquaintance of mine, a board member of an investment company with more than 100 employees: “Recruiting determines your success.” He didn't understand that at first. He still underestimates the issue of employees. He is totally numbers driven. So, you have to convince him in a completely different way.
Good employees – and above all satisfied ones – are automatically more profitable.Oliver Badura, Chief Operating Officer at Hager Unternehmensberatung
And that is...
Oliver: It's actually quite simple. You can only achieve your company's goals with people who fit the company, so prioritize investments in recruiting and not the modeling of (sales) figures and targets. Or put another way: Good employees – and above all satisfied ones – are automatically more profitable.
This article is part of a content cooperation between Fe:maleOneZero (F10) and Hager Unternehmensberatung. The company, which specializes in executive search, has repeatedly been named one of the best personnel consultancies in Germany by the magazines WirtschaftsWoche and Focus. Hager Unternehmensberatung employs around 110 people and, in addition to its extensive know-how in the field of digitalization, is also considered a specialist in issues relating to diversity and innovation.