Kay Clancy on how to keep contractors engaged in your company's mission
How did the opportunity in transformational leadership at MLC Life come about?
I’d just come out of an executive role in a superfund and someone in my network suggested I get in touch in with Vicki Woodcock at Marshall McAdam. Vicki told me about a change management contract role at MLC Life. When I met with the program director they initially wanted someone to support them with board papers and governance, which is not where my skillset lies. I was able to have open and honest conversation with the COO and Program Sponsor about where their program was lacking and ultimately co-created a new contract role quite different to the one they originally envisaged.
What was it like working with senior technology contract recruiter Vicki Woodcock?
Vicki is not your average recruiter. She creates an instant connection with her candidates but has a real sense of urgency to move all parties through the process. She’s focussed on getting the right outcome rather than just filling the JD she has in front of her. Vicki is warm and engaging but direct; there’s no waffle and I appreciate that. You never know when your career might take an unexpected turn so it’s good to have a relationship with a well-connected recruiter you like dealing with.
What contributed most to the successful outcome?
Vicki was able to shape the contract role at MLC Life because she saw the real needs beyond the initial brief. Her boldness and ability to ask the right questions helped uncover the true priority– a strong change and leadership capability. Timing was also key, Vicki was able to move quickly while these insights were fresh. Her tenacity and client relationships were crucial to the final outcome.
What has been most satisfying about your time at MLC Life?
I’d have to say, establishing strong leadership and communications frameworks. The contingent workforce is the biggest staffing unit at MLC Life, but contractors were falling outside of support models designed for a permanent workforce. Contractors are people going to the same place every day to do a job – often a business critical job - and they have the same needs as anyone else in the workplace. I established cascading communications to keep contractors informed and weekly stand-up meetings to air concerns. In the early days it was telling how minor issues were blocking productivity – we don’t have enough chairs or the coffee machine isn’t working. By listening and addressing seemingly inconsequential things, contractors’ questions have shifted to the project and how they can better support business objectives. This is where every organisation wants their contingent workforce to be. The positive impact on performance and morale meant I was able to secure a dedicated People and Culture resource to support the team going forward.
So, what’s next for you?
I’ve had a fantastic year at MLC Life, but you don’t want to stay too long in an executive contract because then you’re not delivering on your promise. I’m satisfied that I’ve set up strong frameworks for the team to build on and I’m sure they’ll go from strength to strength. Now I’m looking forward to bringing my insights, courage and energy to a new business transformation opportunity.