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The Stability of Change

The word “change” shares a home with words like “cut” and “swing”, which have multiple and disparate definitions. For example, we can change physical objects like clothes or a residence. Change also refers to the intangible, as in changing direction, strategy, religion or our minds.

One particularly confusing use of this chameleon of a word relates to money. Change can refer to paper bills, as in “Do you have change for a twenty?” Change can just as easily refer to coins, as in, well you know, change. (To further confuse this, the French word “monnaie”, which looks suspiciously like “money”, does refer to money, but generally to coins, not paper notes. The French word for “money” is “argent”, which also means “silver”, which is a slang term in English for coins. In Spanish, as in English, “cambio” carries multiple definitions, including the specific reference to coins that also exists in English.) If you’re waiting for the relevance of all of this, I appreciate your patience.

There is a more introspective definition of this versatile word: one can change perspective, outlook or even a belief system. This usage of change is more ethereal, but perhaps reflects the most profound use of this word because changing our lens on the world doesn’t really change the outside world at all. Paradoxically, it changes everything in our world because changing our perspective will change our results.

In a recent strategy meeting, the MB Interim team posited a bold question: underneath all of the meetings and interviews that we conduct, and all the engagements we fill, what is our biggest achievement? After a contemplative discussion, we unanimously agreed that the most important accomplishment of a recruiter who places talent, whether on a permanent or interim basis, is that we change people’s lives. (I realize this may seem corny or too “touchy feely” for some, so I’ll take a quick testosterone break to revel in Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Chris Paul coming to a SoCal sports team near you.) Okay, back to our regularly scheduled topic: Changing lives is something all search professionals can be proud of.

When a company brings on permanent or interim talent, it’s a no-brainer to see how the placed execs benefit, especially if they were in transition. They get to contribute existing expertise and develop new skills, all while getting paid. By the way, these benefits also translate to a big boost to their psyches, which will likely impact their lives by some exponential factor.

The benefit that organizations derive from talent additions goes beyond the obvious. Companies bring on resources because they have gaps between where they are and where they want to be. Pretty simple and especially true when using interim resources for time-sensitive challenges; what sometimes gets overlooked is how a company’s employees are adversely impacted by inadequate human resources and how much they benefit when that gap is filled. A new client recently called us with an urgent interim need. The circumstances causing this need were clearly distressing to our client on both a professional and personal level. We placed a resource a few days later, directly changing the lives of our client and Interim Leader. I’m pretty sure we also improved things for other employees and for the Interim Leader’s family.

For better or worse, as the saying goes, the only thing constant is change (and maybe my wife’s love of shoes). Sometimes, change is comfortable, even desirable; and sometimes, it is anything but… Although it may seem counter-intuitive, change plays an integral part in a company’s stability. It drives new ideas, new products and new opportunities. It also drives the need for new talent. Regardless of the words or language used to describe it, I take pride in playing a role in the stability and growth of companies, and in the professional success and personal well-being of their employees and of our Interim Leaders and their families.

As we await the changes, both anticipated and unexpected, that 2012 will bring, I wish you safe and blissful holidays.

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