Saturday 16th October is ‘Boss Day’ - an annual celebration and appreciation of bosses and business leaders across all industries. To celebrate this, we sat down with Victoria Short, CEO of Randstad UK and Ireland, to get her advice on what it takes to be a leader in a fast-paced, ever-evolving environment.
As CEO of Randstad, as well as Pareto, Monster and being on the board of the National Tutoring Programme, you have a lot of responsibilities outside of just people management. What does a day look like for you as CEO and how do you balance your other responsibilities with managing people who report into you?
Being a leader means that you are meeting people all the time - even those outside of who you directly manage, so people skills are a must. A typical day could be attending an induction, meeting a client or meeting other group colleagues from around the world to discuss strategy and collaborate on projects.
I will also attend meetings to support our business in being a company where anyone joining us feels empowered and encouraged to bring their most authentic self to work and be the best version of themselves. I’ll regularly work with our people with internal priorities such as ED&I, social value, through to more commercial initiatives such as tech stack or margin enhancement.
Balance is always key in this industry. I will always ensure I have the time to be in touch with my direct reports and ensure that they have everything they, and their teams, need to feel supported and perform at their best.
You have been a boss for much of your career. What are the key qualities that a boss should have?
Over the years of being a manager of people, there’s one key message that is important for any manager or leader to know - being a boss is about supporting and not dictating. You are surrounded by extremely talented people who are experts in their field. As a leader, the key qualities you need to have are empathy and active listening. You want to be empowering those around you to deliver and be the best versions of themselves, while also learning from them at the same time.
Supporting your people is everything. As a CEO, I have to set a clear vision of where we want to be going as a business, get our people to buy into the vision and get them engaged and excited about it. Our industry is constantly evolving and changing. One of my key roles is to support our people to adapt to the changing environment and embrace it.
The past 18 months or so have taken a toll on the mental wellbeing of some people. As a boss, do you feel that you have a responsibility to look after employees’ wellbeing and if so, what should bosses be doing to help support their employees with their mental wellbeing?
Absolutely. All leaders not only have a duty to ensure that their direct reports’ wellbeing is looked after, but as CEO, I am passionate about ensuring the business has all the resources available for our people to manage their own wellbeing too. We have a substantial wellbeing programme at Randstad, including our Employee Assistance Program, our Resilient Business Principles and an Inclusion and Wellbeing team focussed on ensuring everyone is heard and supported, to name a few. We also regularly get industry and public figures to co-present webinars on wellbeing topics and issues (Clarke Carlisle and Alistair Campbell have been just a couple). We also have a wealth of benefits available to all of our people to help them manage everything from their finances, through to their health and the wellbeing of their families.
You have to show empathy, talk about wellbeing and have it on your agenda. You need to show your own vulnerability and where you or people close to you have struggled. Importantly, don’t be afraid to challenge those who don’t show empathy towards their fellow colleagues.
In 2021, one of the most important things a leader of a business can do to support the wellbeing of their people is implement flexible working in their companies. It’s also vital to get managers in the business to support this. Since we introduced flexible working at Randstad, with our flex@randstad offering, I have noticed substantial improvements in the wellbeing of our people. Managing a team that is partially working remotely and partly office based is a change and can present its challenges. So long as you support and trust your employees however, they will reciprocate this by finding a work/life harmony that works for them, be their most productive selves and will be an asset to your business.
For those looking to move into a managerial position or for those who have just started in one - what advice would you give to someone who doesn’t have much experience of being a boss?
It comes back to listening, supporting and not dictating. Be fair, establish a clear vision and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to over-communicate. Bring people along with you, rather than ‘telling’ them what to do.
Most importantly, you need to be interested in people and want success to go beyond your own. Seeing people thrive is one of the great privileges of being a manager. Support this by having an active interest in your people and support them to be successful, buy into the bigger company goal and recognise your individual and team part in achieving that. Communication, honesty, integrity, drive, resilience and ambition are all key traits you should have and are those you should instil within your teams.
Being a boss can be stressful, but also very rewarding. What are the most rewarding aspects of being the CEO of Randstad and being the leader of those in the business?
The most rewarding thing about being CEO of Randstad is leading an organisation that supports people to achieve their potential every day. Being a business leader can be a lonely job sometimes but when you’ve got great people around you and supporting business success, there’s no better feeling.
It’s great to see people thrive and progress in the business, achieve things that they thought that they could never achieve, supporting business through change and after all of this, achieve amazing results. At the end of the day we’re a sales business so we still get a buzz from our teamwork leading to us hitting, and often exceeding, our targets.
Being a leader at Randstad UK is a challenging and rewarding career; full of great people, fantastic training and full support throughout your entire career. If you are a people person and would like to lead our teams to be as successful as they can be, search our open careers by clicking the button below.