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How to hire (or not) … as a Mobility Design Leader and Manager

Author: Martin Groschwald
Understanding Design

Effective leadership and management means knowing how to find the right people for the right jobs.

To illustrate this point, here is an example of what we regularly see when new studios are set up around the world. Many of you may have experienced similar situations. This principle applies to almost all recruitment processes and across different departments in mobility design. The establishment of a new studio will serve as a brief example to highlight this concept.

The vast majority choose “The Easy Way”

The principle: hire familiar faces and entities to simplify your life. The emphasis is on minimising challenges and focusing solely on filling a position rather than considering the wider role. This approach lacks a long-term perspective and a comprehensive recruitment strategy.

It is the most common way of hiring. And to be fair, it is very understandable. When starting a new job, there can be considerable pressure to deliver results quickly, leading people to rely on what they already know. This familiarity provides a sense of comfort and expediency, making a well-thought-out recruitment strategy unnecessary. The primary objective is simply to get the job done. However, the 'easy way' has significant drawbacks, particularly when it comes to defining the scope of the new employee's responsibilities. They are hired to fulfil a task (e.g. a first vehicle). That's great, but it's not long-term. There is usually no plan for what that job might become. Hiring for a comprehensive 'role' that includes responsibilities, expectations and growth potential is not usually practised.

This short-sighted approach to hiring prioritises immediate results but lacks stability. Long-term sustainability is often overlooked, leading to frequent restructuring within studios and waves of hiring and firing to meet the evolving needs of the department. Studios also tend to hire a lot of people to deal with specific issues, as they have to adapt on the fly without proper planning.

A selected few “Leave the comfort zone…a bit.”

The principle: the most important positions are filled with people close to the leader, and below that there is a more open process. Selecting top candidates for specific job requirements, while considering the suitability of candidates for lower level roles. This approach balances short-term success with a medium- to long-term perspective and forms the basis of the recruitment strategy.

This practice is common among managers and executives who have previously changed companies. They recognise that there is a lot of talent in the world of mobility design and that this talent needs to be given a chance. At the same time, they want to create a 'circle of trust' to achieve both short and medium-term goals, but without significant consideration for long-term goals. The recruitment strategy outlined reflects the overall strategy and direction of the organisation. Do not necessarily prioritise the 'trusted circle' based on expectations of higher level positions, but rather focus on senior or junior level positions that are more closely aligned to the roles.

This approach offers greater stability with a degree of variability. The outcome depends heavily on the experience of the manager or leader after the job change. Job security is at a much higher level as the build-up is better planned and executed, resulting in less restructuring and turnover.

Optimal reach for “The Maximum”

The principle: Full focus on hiring the best medium to long-term solution, strategic hiring for long-term success, and implementing a strong hiring strategy. Hiring from top to bottom. This approach can require a significant investment of time, as all hires are selected for their fit with a particular 'role' rather than just a 'job'. To ensure long-term success, temporary arrangements such as the use of contractors or agencies are used as part of a wider initiative to build a strong foundation for the future.

This is unfortunately very rare and requires a very strong relationship with the CEO or direct report above. Building a mobility design from the ground up that integrates seamlessly with the company's direction and decision-making requires a long-term recruitment strategy and plan. This rarely happens simply because of time constraints and expectations, but it can be done. It would first require the implementation of a temporary solution to buy the time needed to hire the most suitable candidates for the 'role'. This approach sees the 'job' as temporary, with the 'role' as the focus for future outcomes. In contrast to the other two approaches, where hiring for any position can occur at almost any time, The Maximum is top-down, planned and strategic. It is often accompanied by a very strong development function, enabling individuals to determine whether they want to move towards a managerial or expert career path. It is not essential for the leader or manager to have extensive knowledge of the recruitment process; candidates are selected on the basis of their specific suitability for the 'role'. As a result, there is a strong focus on quality, often resulting in controlled staff growth rather than explosive expansion.

"The Maximum is the most stable and long-term solution, typically resulting in high employee satisfaction, clear direction and effective communication. Turnover is minimal and new additions to the team are chosen with great care, prioritising quality over quantity.

In conclusion, it is important to recognise that the field of recruitment strategies is nuanced and diverse. While the three approaches outlined here offer valuable insights, it is crucial to acknowledge that there are numerous blends and personal styles within the hiring landscape.