How Momentum builds success

In FastTrack’s official newsletter In the Fast Lane, Jamie Killmier interviews Liz McDowell, Group Human Resources & Operations Manager at Momentum Consulting. They discuss her career progression and the challenges and opportunities facing Momentum and the recruitment industry more broadly.

 

Q. About you Liz, it would be great to discuss your rise to the top of the staffing industry.

My goal was never to be at the very top, to be the head of a company. I always wanted to stay close to operations and operational structure. So, from that perspective, I chose my career path, it did not choose me. I was always very aware of what I wanted to do and where my strengths lay and have surrounded myself with people with strong operational backgrounds.

I have always led from the front and no job in the business is beyond me. I’m happy to chip in when needed, and that builds a connection and trust within your team that is critical to success. When leaders and their teams are connected, is when great things can be achieved.

 

Q. Are there any memorable lessons you have learned from your mentors?

Different mentors have taught me different things that have impacted me in my journey. Some of the most memorable are:

  • Roger Lampen – How to deliver an exceptional service and its importance.
  • Gail Milligan – How to manage, structured leadership.
  • Julia Ross – How to manage high-performing volume recruitment teams. She is one of the most innovative and creative people in the industry.

Q. Tell me a little bit about your management style – and is the way we manage people changing?

I feel that I am really connected to my people. I genuinely know them and can quickly identify and help address any issues or challenges they’re experiencing, both professionally and personally.

Because we have always been open and upfront as a business and as a management team, staff retention based on management style seems less of an issue. Truly knowing your staff is a very important management principle and we have that across our senior team.

We had a really strong team going into the height of the pandemic period because we do have a family culture, and whilst a lot of people use that term, it is how you feel when you work here. So, I don’t feel that we necessarily need to change our management style so much. We were already very empathetic and compassionate.

 

Q. What was the impact of Covid-19 on Momentum Consulting?

We worked very closely with our clients, we already had strong partnerships and understood their business and the potential impact. We needed to support the businesses that had been supporting us, there was no point directing our casual workforce to new clients.

Managers and our Account Managers took on different roles to support the demand. We were very cognizant of supporting our employees during this time, for example we set up a creche in one of our offices, had flexi time, provided lunch for office-based workers, had group Teams events every Friday, sent Harris Farm gift boxes to staff working from home, gave gift cards and so forth, our focus was on output.

 

Q. What does ‘work very closely’ with customers mean in real terms?

There was an increase in communication and clients came to rely on us more due to pandemic-related compliance requirements.

But there was also more gratitude from clients in the context that we needed to rely on one another more – neither of us had been through anything like this, we had to survive together, in partnership.

Additionally, there was no such thing as 9 to 5, this was a 24-hour operation. The blue-collar world doesn’t have standard office hours – it was all about supporting our candidate and client network.

 

Q. And what stands out as the next opportunity brought on by the change in working conditions?

We continue to grow, and companies are starting to see loyalty from their blue-collar unskilled workers and are taking them on permanent – not because of the casual conversion law but because people are now recognising loyalty – and we can manage this process in FastTrack360.

The biggest realisation was how much we relied on technology. Technology supported us during the pandemic, and we adopted new complementary technology along the way.

We found during Covid-19 that candidates preferred not to speak to us, and it became a texting world. We are mindful of not losing the art of the conversation and are working to find the correct balance between the use of technology and keeping the all-important human touch.

 

Q. Is there a candidate shortage?

We don’t use the term candidate shortage at Momentum, it is banned. We believe there is the same number of good quality candidates out there as there was before the pandemic (international workers excluded). It’s about whether you either screen in or out and our role as recruiters at the moment is screening in – where does this particular candidate have potential? We have worked with a lot of clients who would’ve excluded candidates previously, only to look at them in a different light and assess whether they can be skilled in to do a different role.

 

Q. What does work-life balance look like in 2022?

Everyone thinks that work-life balance is just working from home but it’s not, it’s about understanding where my staff need support. Their lives have been turned upside down and you can’t expect people to perform the same role or be the same people working from home if their fundamental environment has changed.

 

Q. Is staff retention an issue?

No, it is more about finding strong skills to support our national growth. People may leave, because they want a new direction or new environment, a different challenge can sometimes be reinvigorating. We got towards the end of the pandemic, and we were tired.

We are seeing our industry start to look at people who can be developed, rather than just looking for specialists from inside the industry. Having years of experience is not necessarily the ticket to being a successful recruiter anymore.

 

Q. FastTrack has been in partnership with Momentum Consulting for many years and you have witnessed the evolution of the product. In your opinion, why is FastTrack360 important to your business objectives?

We’ve had a good relationship right from the beginning and the pandemic didn’t affect this. The biggest thing for us is that FastTrack understands our operations and treats us like we’re our own business rather than bunching us into ‘the recruitment’ business.

Accessibility is also important – we know who we can go to at FastTrack to help us. There is always a connection with the FastTrack team, a response.

In relation to the FastTrack technology itself, I can’t remember a time in my career within the industry when I even used another database. That’s how reliant we’ve come to be on it as a business, and me as an individual. I never feel the need to go and look at alternatives.

I know other software cannot address blue-collar recruitment the way FastTrack360 does, and why change something that’s not broken.

It’s one of those relationships and things that I just don’t need to worry about. I’m really comfortable that FastTrack addresses what we need now and might need in the future.

 

Q. For you, what does the future of recruitment look like?

I don’t predict a lot of radical change that we haven’t discussed. For us, we are going to focus on our lane and do what we do well. We have a couple of new service lines for 2022, one under our banner of Workforce by Design. We opened our WA office and will look to sourcing skill from the international market. Our focus will always be on maintaining the family feel for all who work for us, no matter how big we grow.

 

This interview featured in the latest edition of FastTrack’s In the Fast Lane newsletter. Read the entire newsletter here.

For further information about Momentum Consulting Group, visit www.momentumconsulting.com.au

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