Interim Management - Managers also need professional support
Daniel Müller, Managing Director of Management Angels sits down with German magazine DUP to discuss strategy, service culture and how managers need support too.
How have earnings and turnover developed over the past three years?
Daniel Müller: 2019 was a record year for Management Angels, both in terms of turnover and earnings.
In 2020 and 2021 came the Corona crisis and with it a challenging phase for many companies. In the recruitment industry, many permanent placement projects went into a freeze, demand for temporary work declined and the interim management industry also came under pressure. However, since interim managers were often responsible for key projects for clients, the decline in turnover in the interim sector was limited. We also saw a decline in the number of new Management Angels contracts in 2020, but fortunately the team managed to weather the crisis months robustly and was able to find its way back to growth in 2021.
What is your recipe for success and the driving force behind your growth?
Müller: We are more than a placement agency and always see ourselves as reliable advisors to our clients, especially when it comes down to it and difficult decisions have to be made. Our recipe for success is hard work to satisfy the customer. Satisfied clients come back, tell us about their successful experiences and thus bring in new clients. That is the sales view. With the internal view, we often use swarm intelligence in the team and try to get a little better every day in everything we do. The fact that we have flat hierarchies and a high level of employee participation contributes to rapid implementation. This is also reflected in the high level of employee satisfaction, which we can see both in our very good Kununu rating and in the low staff turnover.
What does your digitalisation strategy look like?
Müller: We are in the people's business. This means that contact between people is essential for us and should not be replaced. Nevertheless, it is important to increase the capacities necessary for this contact by identifying non-productive administrative activities and digitising them where they are repetitive. Ideally, this involves squaring the circle: increasing quantity and quality at the same time. Several internal projects are currently underway that deal with the more intensive use of digital possibilities along these lines.
What makes your company particularly successful with customers?
Müller: The short answer is: Exceed client's expectations. Or in other words: We go the extra mile.
What role does service play in your business?
Müller: We are a service company that always focuses on three areas: the people involved, i.e. the decision-makers on the client's side and the interim manager, the organisation, i.e. the team, culture, initial conditions, and the mission, i.e. the demands placed on the project. We shape our clients' projects according to these requirements, as team players, sparring partners, coaches or coordinators - depending on the project.
What do you do to improve the service?
Müller: We observe very closely where we disappoint customer expectations and talk openly about it internally. If there have to be adjustments to processes or communication, these changes are made. Furthermore, we are in close contact with key clients or interim managers and proactively obtain feedback or test new ideas with these selected contacts. In addition, there is always open internal communication between all parties involved. In the past two years, we have set up a double-digit number of internal projects, which, staffed across divisions, have dealt with key processes with the aim of improving them in the long term.
Do you have an example of how your company lives service?
Müller: Personal, partnership-based communication at eye level with all parties involved is important to us. That is why, for example, the customer can choose among the contact persons who look after him or her, just as we do not make any fixed internal specifications as to who is assigned to which customer. Although all advisors have industry specialisations, there is no division by postcode, region, alphabet or other rigid automatisms.
What role does digitalisation play in service?
Müller: We practically no longer have any paper in communication with the parties involved in our business processes. From our point of view, all processes are to be handled digitally - offers, contracts, invoices, credit notes and the like. We are currently in the process of streamlining other processes using cloud-based solutions.
What are you doing to establish or improve a service culture?
Müller: It is important to have people in the company who have the right mindset for a service-oriented company. That's why we pay more attention to this when recruiting. Furthermore, we ensure good and comprehensive onboarding and exemplify the processes.
What is your company's greatest strength and do you dare to reveal a weakness?
Müller: I think the greatest strength is that we not only listen well, but can also listen. Communication is what comes across, and as recipients we have the special task of not only understanding what the customer is saying, but also what he means, and to let this ultimately lead to a meaningful and accurate customer briefing. We also have weaknesses, but as we all know, you don't broadcast them. I wish we would sometimes show the same stringency in completing internal projects that we show in client projects.
What is your biggest learning from the Corona crisis for your company?
Müller: That in successful companies all employees are able to adapt quickly to changing conditions. I moved to a home office two years ago. And in the time since then, no employee has fallen by the wayside, and ultimately, internal cooperation has even improved in many areas.
How do you see the future of work?
Müller: We are working hybrid today and overall it is working better than in 2019. We have all learned a lot in the process and have managed not to lose anyone along the way, have been able to get by without short-time work and have ultimately remained profitable throughout. The series of measures that have led to this success makes us proud as management.