The world is still reeling from the result of the “Brexit” vote this past Thursday.
And while there will be a significant amount of dialogue on why British voters chose to exit the European Union, business leaders need to start proactively planning for the changes that will result from the vote.
When it comes to how the vote impacts the current and future leadership of your business, here’s what you need to know:
1. You will need to recruit executives that can thrive in political uncertainty and have an awareness of current events
When exactly will the United Kingdom ultimately exit the EU? What sort of trade agreements may the EU and the UK develop? How will the vote impact foreign workers inside of the UK? How will it impact UK citizens working inside of the EU?
No one knows the answer to any of these questions with any certainty.
But that doesn’t mean your business can grind to a halt while you wait for the answers. Life moves on, business moves on, and you need to have an executive team that is capable of making big decisions while lacking important information.
An awareness of politics and current events has always been a core competency for successful senior executives, your executive team will need to know how to translate a shifting political paradigm into your strategic and operational tactics.
2. Recruiting may have just become harder
Research by our firm has shown that the overwhelming majority of executives are open to moving positions.
However, after Thursday’s vote, that may have changed.
Instability of any type often makes people less likely to make a major change—like switching jobs. That said, you still need to hire for important roles in your company.
Make sure you work with a recruiter who can do more than just scout and search for people. Make sure your recruiter can package your opportunity as part of a career roadmap and a shared ambition—and that this career change is the right move to make.
Even in a time of uncertainty.
3. Stay aware of the status of United Kingdom workers and executives
Does your business have an office in the United Kingdom from where you operate and sell on the European continent? Does your business hire workers from the United Kingdom? Do you plan to establish your European headquarter in London because of cultural and language proximity?
It is a safe to assume that it will negatively impact workers who originate from or work in the United Kingdom.
You want to be prepared in the event you have to take expensive or time consuming measures to retain or replace executive talent affected by the Brexit.
And while succession planning is always critical, the impact of this vote is a compelling reason to look at your succession plan, and begin developing future leaders who may have to step into important vacancies created by the United Kingdom’s exit.
4. The business climate and the hiring industry in the United Kingdom is going to be extremely volatile—particularly negative in the banking and financial sector
In the end, how will the vote impact British business? Among other consequences, experts convened by The Guardian predicted that the United Kingdom would see a drastically weakened currency, an eventual reduction in trade, and a negative impact to many of the nation’s most important industries.
HSBC, JP Morgan, BNP have already indicated that may begin relocating thousands of jobs to Paris and other European cities almost immediately. Representing more than 25% of the nation’s GDP, a weaker “City” could be catastrophic to the British economy—and that damage may begin almost immediately.
Whether you are in the insurance&banking industry or servicing them, to take an obvious example, you need to think about moving your staff in full or in part, moving your operations, reviewing your business plans and HR budgets.
5. Don’t procrastinate: 2 years to exit starts today and runs out fast
The European Commission, in its now famous Article 50, indicates that it will not take more than 24 month to complete the United Kingdom’s exit.
Keep in mind that hiring senior executives can take anything from 3 to 12 month - success planning potentially even longer.
So start being proactive: have a deep look into your senior staff situation; reassess your hiring forecasts and Leadership development budgets.
Robertson Associates is headquartered in Brussels, and has significant professional and personal connections within the European Commission, highly profiled lobbying associations, and international consulting boutiques.
We look forward to working with our clients to help position their current and future leadership team for success in a rapidly changing Europe.
Pierre Collowald is a Senior Partner at Robertson Associates, a European Executive Search and Leadership Solutions boutique. Pierre is working out of Brussels, Paris and Zurich.