Leading for Recovery – Mutual trust and support will matter even more

Raluca Modoran, Senior Leadership & People Advisor at Signium – Stein & Partner, invited by Mr. Viorel Panaite, Managing Partner at Human Invest & Ken Blanchard Romania, for the following interview.


Viorel Panainte: Raluca Modoran is now Senior Leadership & People Advisor at Signium – Stein & Partner. We started working together more than 5 years ago on projects we were building for Vodafone Shared Services, where Raluca was Global Talent & Development Manager. Always active, with ideas and initiative, she sought to connect our programs with the company’s strategic priorities. The main themes of an organization are clear to her and that is why she was invited to do the next interview.


You have over 15 years’ experience as a HR manager, in several industries: FMCG, Telecommunications, and Distribution. You went through the 2009 financial crisis occupying such a role. What were the employees’ concerns then? What are the similar ones now? Which are the differences compared to the current crisis? What leadership lessons from the crisis years of 2009-2010 are now useful to you?

I perceive these 2 crises differently, both from a starting point of view as well as a subsequent manifestation.

The crisis that started in 2008 in the US generated consequences which were felt in Romania only after 6-12 months. I remember a slightly “arrogant” attitude and comments such as “it will not reach us”, “it cannot impact us”, stemming from employers and employees as well. They then continued to focus on their daily activities, few of us were actually concerned about the future, because we had no benchmarks on the reverberations that such a shock could produce. When the effects of the crisis began to be felt in Romania as well, the employers’ response was mainly to reduce the staff and costs associated with employees, without showing any particular interest for the consequences of such decisions. The employees were on their own, the impact was for everyone, at all levels and across all industries.

The crisis of 2019 came as a global wave, which was felt from China, Europe, and the US in less than 3 months, blocking the entire ecosystem. At that time, I think many of us remembered 2009 and what we noticed around us was an employer-employee coalition against this “common enemy”. I have seen much more consideration for the employees, support programs, flexibility, increased level of communication in both directions. As a natural consequence, companies that were not impacted by social distancing registered a productivity of up to 180%.

“People work for people” was a saying and I’ve seen this very present in the last year when managers were much closer to their teams, listened more, and showed understanding. In 2020, leadership really was with and about people, about authenticity, about “togetherness”, although from a distance. And this created expectations that will have to be met by leaders in the next period as well.

From your point of view, what are some of the priority systems and processes of an organization and which should be as strong as possible in this crisis?

During this crisis I’ve seen industries severely affected, but also others for which this change actually meant a huge opportunity. Each one harnessed it to their best abilities, but that’s another discussion. A crisis foresees a need to change or adjust mentalities and review practices. Therefore, I consider some directions of action important for the leadership teams and the opportune moment to ask some questions:

  • Reviewing the organization’s mission and vision, values, ​​and behaviours. Now is a good time to revisit concepts such as purpose and mission or to take the first steps towards articulating them. What is important for the company? What do we really want as a leadership team? Why do we do what we do? What do we offer to our customers? What do we offer to our employees? Are the established goal and mission still relevant? Do the established strategy and objectives help us in the new context? What new set of behaviours do we want to see in the future? What beliefs and values ​​do we need to change both at management team level as well as at the level of the entire organization to generate new behaviours? What will we do differently?
  • Organizational redesign. Do systems and processes support us in the new strategic direction? Do they respond to the new business demands and our employees’ needs? What impact will technology have on processes? What degree of adjustment do we need? How to design the new organizational structure to ensure the skills we need and the clarity of the new roles and responsibilities?
  • Constant feedback and validation from employees. The fact that change is the only constant in our lives has been a long-known fact. What is different now is the speed with which these changes are taking place and the increased need for employee involvement in decisions and much faster validations to ensure their implementation. What is the level of employee confidence in the new strategy? How does it support new initiatives? How much / how little are they willing to accept the new direction? What do they think we should aspire to?

What would now make employees be available for prolonged intense effort and contribute proactively to the constant cultivation of mutual trust, of collaboration where they work?

It is time for a paradigm shift. It’s not just about finding new ways to keep doing the same things, but I think it’s essential for employers to revisit the purpose for which we do certain things. It is possible that by prolonging the old practices we get the opposite of what we want, despite our best intentions. We can take as an example the traditional Christmas party: in the past years, employees used to meet at the office or in another location and celebrate the end of the year. In those get-togethers, they connected informally with their colleagues, they relaxed, stress was released, and this led to  building engagement. In the context of the pandemic, these Christmas parties were moved by many companies online, turning into an excruciating 4–5-hour marathon of smiling (or not!) in front of the laptop. Thus, I wonder if keeping the same habits (namely organizing a Christmas meeting) has really achieved the commitment of employees? Or is it time to reinvent ourselves and understand how to actually be close to our people and make them happy? I remember the example of a company having employees with an average age of up to 28 years that sent them complete menus for Easter and Christmas meals, because they could not be with their families.

In other words, by truly understanding the profile of our employees, listening to their opinions, and integrating their ideas into retention and development programs, we will achieve a partnership based on mutual trust and support.

From this point on, the results will come readily.

What are some of the changes you think will happen in the coming years on the labour market? How do you think labour relations will be made more flexible? What beliefs in this field will be considered outdated and will fade? What new beliefs do you think will emerge?

I think the pandemic will accelerate the trends we have already seen in the last 3-5 years in the labour market. Roles will be further impacted by automation, robotics, digitization, and many of them will disappear sooner than we expected. Companies will need to continue their plans to adjust the work schedule and conditions to the employees’ needs. I am referring here to what I used to call well-being initiatives, and which were optional, and I think they will be part of the basic offer package for attracting valuable candidates. On the other hand, employees will be even more attentive to the company’s culture, its ability to adapt to new trends and the importance given to them, and depending on these, they will choose to stay or change rather than for financial reasons.

I believe that the pandemic has given us the opportunity to settle down and re-evaluate why, where, and how we want to continue our activity and relationships, as well as what defines us both as employers and as employees.

To read the full interview and find out more about Human Invest, please click here.


©Raluca Modoran

Interview with Sebastian Stein – HR Business Forum



We are very grateful to have had our Managing Partner, Sebastian Stein, invited to speak at the DeBizz HR Business Forum webinar, held on the 16th of September.

In you are interested in finding out more about his perspective and expertise on the Executive Search market, Transformational Leadership and Employment challenges in the current context, please find below some highlights from the conference.


Through the lens of the Executive Search market 


An outlook on the Executive Search market during the present context

Regardless of the fact that most people are still working remotely, the demand for Leadership and Management is still extremely high; maybe even more so than before. Especially during these challenging times in the market companies are looking very much into identifying leadership teams who are able to deal with this uncertainty and to endorse a new leadership style, a new working culture driven by empowerment.

When we don’t have direct access to our people, we need to reinvent ourselves and to learn how to effectively distribute tasks and responsibilities and doing this remotely is definitely more challenging than it used to be before.

Nevertheless, this context also provides a big chance and we believe that companies should now intend for a longer-term vision by not only focusing on what is, but also by utilizing the intricacies of a crisis for what could be.

Considering that we are dealing with a global pandemic, we have noticed that organizations are having the tendency to go regional, in order for them to discern how the direct impact affects the structure dynamic. It seems that the markets in CEE are consolidating, with a lot of M&A processes and those who have invested in Eastern Europe are making use of the prospect to enlarge their businesses and to become stronger players in the future. This market consolidation is also a big asset for new entries, for investors coming into the region.

Due to the current unpredictability, we, as an Executive Search company, have to constantly reinvent ourselves by diving deeper into what our clients’ real needs are and what Leadership solutions we need to implement. Therefore, Management placing is not enough anymore because we need to understand what the pain points of an organization are in order to integrate the most appropriate solutions for the future development of the company.

At the same time, we believe that Leadership and people will remain in the focus of each company, especially in Eastern Europe where agility is lived to a much higher extent in comparison with the Western markets.

Changes following the global pandemic

We had to adjust to the context and moved in the virtual environment, conducting searches entirely online, sometimes not meeting face-to-face neither the clients nor the candidates, which was atypical for us in the beginning because we were used to feeling the pulse of one-on-one interactions. Moreover, we even conducted online assessment and development centers and concluded that cross border searches are made easier and more efficient.

Surprisingly, until now, we noticed no deficit in the quality of selection, having almost 100% closing rate for our projects, except those which stopped due to the hiring freeze.

What are the new requirements towards Leadership teams? Do we continue to work remotely, or do we return back to the office?

Since the law of change is the only constant in this universe, we can be certain about the fact that uncertainty will prevail and our attitude in the face of it should be beneficial to our wellbeing.

We will continue to work remotely or at least by having the possibility of a flexible agenda, because it seems that this pandemic has only fostered the mega trend of freelance economy and flexible working schedules.

A good example on how the public system, but also the private economy are struggling to find the right proportion between digital and physical would be with the latest changes in the schooling system, where there is ambiguity about the modus operandi, but in the end it only emphasizes even more the idea that we need to permanently adapt.

Of course, this uncertainty has also an impact on Leadership and we have observed a further shift in its approach. In the past, and especially in Eastern Europe with state owned companies, we used to have a type of Management focused on the directive Leadership style and we all have seen the deficiencies of such style.

Now, the servant Leadership style is taking the stage, putting people into the spotlight of the company, which means that the employees are getting more and more recognized as being the most valuable assets and that managers have to become servant leaders.

The aspiration for the future is in Agile Leadership, a style which sees the organization as a community or a city where you can do what you want as long as you allow the community to benefit from your work.

In conclusion, adjusting Leadership styles has to be put in context and is not an easy process, which is also reflected in the many changes and responses we see around us.

Interviu David-Sebastian Stein: Executive Search in Romania

Executive Search in Romania: Cum se desfasoara procesul si ce calitati cauta recrutorii

Interviu publicat pe wall-street.ro

Compania Stein & Partner este prezenta pe piata de executive search din Romania de aproape 25 de ani. In ciuda numelui german, firma are in spate o poveste 100% romaneasca, care, in timp, s-a extins in toata Europa de Est. Despre cum se face recrutarea unui manager, care este diferenta dintre executive search si recrutarea clasica, dar si despre diferentele dintre stilul managerial romanesc si cel din tarile dezvoltate a vorbit, pentru wall-street.ro, David-Sebastian Stein, Partner.

Serviciul de recrutare a pozitiilor senioriale (executive search) reprezinta procesul de identificare a candidatilor din Board sau top management (Country Managers, CFO, COO) capabili sa sustina compania angajatoare in atingerea obiectivelor sale de business si in implementarea viziunii de dezvoltare, avand afinitati cu tipul de cultura organizationala al acesteia.

“Fiind pozitii cu raspundere complexa, managerii au atat responsabilitati de coordonare a departamentelor si administrative, cat si de leadership pentru echipele pe care le conduc. Prin urmare, companiile au nevoie de candidati care sa fie potriviti atat din punct de vedere profesional, al competentelor, dar si ca atitudine si mod de relationare cu echipele in cadrul carora vor intra. Motiv pentru care, evaluarea acestora este un proces extins de selectie in cadrul caruia experienta specialistului in executive search poate face diferenta”, a declarat David- Sebastian Stein, pentru wall-street.ro.

In procesul de selectie a unui candidat conteaza foarte mult experienta specialistilor in resurse umane de a relationa si identifica trasaturile de personalitate cele mai potrivite pentru pozitia disponibila in cadrul companiei. “Pentru noi, valorile umane precum increderea, comunicarea profesionala, transparenta si onestitatea sunt de o importanta exceptionala in reusita unui astfel de proces de selectie”, a adaugat David-Sebastian Stein.

Care este diferenta dintre executive search si recrutarea clasica?

In ciuda existentei unor jucatori cu experienta de zeci de ani in piata locala de executive search, diferenta dintre executive search (recrutare de manageri) si recrutarea clasica a fost destul de diluata. Acum, cu o piata de executive search consolidata si cu specialisti bine pregatiti in recrutarea managerilor, deosebirile dintre cele doua procese sunt mult mai clare.

“In zilele noastre, identificarea candidatilor reprezinta numai 10-15% din munca, cea mai importanta parte fiind comunicarea profesionala detaliata, alinierea asteptarilor si integrarea talentelor exceptionale intr-un mediu nou. Complexitatea unui proces de cautare executiva si abordarea individualizata aduc cu sine si o investitie semnificativa de timp si de resurse financiare, perfect justificate de castigul pe care orice companie il are in urma recrutarii unui manager ale carui competente contribuie la dezvoltarea firmei. Insa, in acelasi timp, este o investitie pe care de obicei companiile sunt dispuse sa o faca pentru pozitii de middle si top management, mai putin pentru pozitii entry level sau recrutare de volum”, a mai precizat David- Sebastian Stein.

Etapele procesului de executive search

Calitatile si competentele pe care trebuie sa le aiba un candidat depind foarte mult de nivelul managerial, de modelul de afacere si de dimensiunea organizatiei, insa, in procesul de recrutare a unui manager, un criteriu este esential, “leadership-ul”. Adica in ce masura managerul constientizeaza si isi asuma rolul de reper motivational pentru echipa sa.Pornind de la premisa ca recrutam pentru o viziune, nu pentru un job, ne uitam la imaginea de ansamblu, dar si la detalii atunci cand evaluam un candidat. Competentele profesionale se solidifica in timp, insa a fi un lider presupune un efort continuu de autoinvatare si educare.

“Asadar, experienta profesionala este hotaratoare, ca si experienta manageriala administrativa. Dar mai facem si o evaluare a tipului de personalitate, incercam sa identificam obiectivele profesionale si motivatia candidatilor. Suntem atenti si la referinte si recomandari, pentru ca definesc interactiunea candidatului cu mediile de lucru prin care a trecut si cu echipele sau superiorii cu care a interactionat. Toate aceste informatii ne ajuta sa creionam un portret complet al candidatului si sa ne dam seama daca este potrivit pentru nevoile si asteptarile companiei angajatoare”, a adaugat acesta. In functie de complexitatea pozitiei vacante, un proces de recrutare poate sa dureze intre 4 si 12 saptamani.

Prima etapa a procesului este clarificarea, impreuna cu viitorul angajator, a situatiei organizatiei si a planurilor de dezvoltare, a profilului candidatului de care are nevoie si care sunt factorii interni si externi esentiali in interactiunea cu pozitia in cauza.”Acesta este un proces minutios, pentru ca, pentru acuratete si exactitate in recrutare, avem nevoie sa intram in contact direct nu numai cu managementul companiei sau cu departamentul de resurse umane, ci si cu mediul, cultura organizationala a acesteia. Numai astfel putem evita ”unghiurile oarbe” si realiza o evaluare la 360 de grade a nevoilor companiei”, a explicat David-Sebastian Stein.

Urmatoarea etapa este pregatirea unei liste cu companiile in care specialistii in recrutare pot identifica potentialii candidati si cautarea profilurilor potrivite, apeland la propria baza de date sau la reteaua de cunostinte.”Postam descrieri anonime ale job-urilor deschise pe website-ul nostru si cateodata pe alte platforme de recrutare, in functie de pozitie. Pe masura ce identificam candidatii, stam de vorba cu ei pentru a evalua potrivirea, intr-un numar de intalniri care variaza mult de la proiect la proiect, de la industrie la industrie, de la pozitie la pozitie si chiar de la om la om. In urma acestui proces, stabilim o lista scurta de potentiali candidati care se potrivesc cel mai bine companiei-client”, a mai spus acesta.

Urmeaza intalnirile directe intre candidati si client. Rolul firmei de executive search se incheie in momentul in care clientul si-a gasit candidatul potrivit.Cel mai scurt proces de executive search, in care au fost implicati specialistii de la Stein & Partner, a durat doua saptamani de la momentul semnarii contractului pana la intalnirea dintre client si candidatii de pe lista scurta. Acest proiect a fost in domeniul FMCG. Cel mai lung proces a durat 12 luni, pentru o pozitie de top management in industria serviciilor profesionale.

MBA-ul nu este un element hotarator in procesul de selectie

MBA-ul din CV-ul unui candidat, la fel ca oricare alte studii de specialitate, transmite viitorului angajator semnalul ca au in fata o persoana preocupata de formarea profesionala continua. MBA- ul poate da o plus valoarea in CV, insa nu este suficient. (MBA-ul – n.r.) nu este un element hotarator in selectie: modul in care sunt reflectate informatiile capatate in cursul unui astfel de program in rezultatele concrete obtinute de managerii respectivi in activitatea lor va fi intotdeauna mult mai relevant

Cat de diferit este stilul managerial romanesc de stilul managerial din tarile dezvoltate?

“Romania se mandreste cu manageri seniori de o calitate exceptionala, dovada stand numarul mare de manageri regionali si chiar vicepresedinti de companii multinationale care si-au inceput cariera in tara noastra. Romanii sunt foarte apreciati pentru nivelul de responsabilitate si inteligenta in procesele de lucru, dar si pentru deschidere si empatie. Nu exista diferente relevante in stilurile manageriale per se, insa managerii au nevoie de flexibilitate pentru a se adapta culturilor organizationale diferite de la tara la tara”, a raspuns reprezentantul Stein & Partner. Cat priveste diferentele salariale dintre managerii romani si cei din Occident, acestea se aliniaza la cele din tarile vestice, “ceea ce este un factor excelent de prognoza pentru continuitatea si cresterea economiei noastre in ansamblu”.

Articolul integral poate fi citit aici: https://www.wall-street.ro/articol/Careers/233537/executive-search-in-romania-cum-se-desfasoara-procesul-si-ce-calitati-cauta-recrutorii.html.