Randstad and TIAS are celebrating their 20th year as talent development partners for Randstad corporate employees. A new milestone! How do they keep each other on the ball? How do they work together to create development programs that inspire Randstad leaders while also linking up with the organization’s needs? Colleagues Karolien van Montfoort, Senior Manager of Global Learning & Development at Randstad, and Dr. Filip Caeldries, Professor of Strategic Management and Organization at TIAS, discuss what it takes to keep talent development vibrant and relevant in a constantly changing world.
WHAT MAKES THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN TIAS AND RANDSTAD SO STRONG?
Karolien: “For us the real strength is that TIAS and Randstad are true partners. Naturally we need TIAS’s expertise, but at the same time we also work together as equals. It sometimes feels like my counterparts at TIAS are my coworkers, because we’re in touch so often and actually co-create as equals in a really pleasant working relationship. Completely open, completely honest. It just works. TIAS takes a keen interest in our organization and our people. At the end of the day, it’s all about developing these people. That needs to fit with our organization, our values and standards, and working together to achieve our corresponding goals.” Filip: “As Karolien noted, Randstad and TIAS see eye-to-eye on their underlying values and standards. This certainly brings to mind the motto: ‘to know, to serve, to trust.’ For me, it’s the shared values and standards that really matter. We are truly and sincerely interested in each other, and take the time to understand each other. ‘What’s going on? What’s the real issue? How can we get our heads around it?’ Next, we at TIAS apply our knowledge of the Randstad organization in a continuous co-creation process to, help brainstorm how we can better meet the challenges facing Randstad. When you talk about ‘co-creation’, in my experience that means continuous innovation. The program we’re running today is an improved version of the program we ran yesterday.
‘For us the real strength is that TIAS and Randstad are true partners. Naturally we need TIAS’s expertise, but at the same time we also work together as equals.’
Karolien van Montfoort Senior Manager Global Learning & Development at Randstad
Filip: Another key strength in our partnership is the people and our relationships with each other. People with compatible attitudes and personalities. Without that personal ‘click’, I don’t think you can sustain an institutional relationship for so long. From the beginning, the realization that Randstad and TIAS are ultimately in the same business really helped me get inside the Randstad mentality. Their customer value proposition is about people and organizations reaching their true potential. The same is true for TIAS. Randstad does this on the labor market by linking up supply with demand, and we want our development program participants to achieve their true potential for our clients.”
WHAT KINDS OF DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
Karolien: “The collaboration started with the Senior Executive Program (SEP). This in turn gave rise to a variety of other programs, like the current Future Executive Program (FEP) and the High-Performing Business Partner Program (HPBP), and in the past the Strategic Management Seminar and Finance for Non-Financials. The common thread that runs through all programs is development paths for global leadership ranging from middle to upper management.” Filip: “We can distinguish two dimensions here. The general management programs, like SEP and FEP, are actually all about organizational transformation and organizational development. The programs related to specific competencies – like Finance for Non-Financials – are more geared towards individual professional development.”
‘The Randstad customer value proposition is about people and organizations reaching their true potential. The same is true for TIAS.’
Prof. dr. Filip Caeldries Professor of Strategic Management and Organization at TIAS
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS OF THE RANDSTAD-TIAS PARTNERSHIP (2000 – 2021)
Senior Executive Program - Global Since 1999 Target group: High-potentials for senior executive positions High-Performing Business Partner - Global Since 2010 Target group: High-performing experts in Marketing & Communication, Finance, HR, Legal and IT functions Future Executive Program APAC - Asia Pacific Since 2016 Target group: High-potentials for future executive positions Future Executive Program EU - Europe Since 2018 Target group: High-potentials for future executive positions
Finance for Non-Financials - Global 2003 - 2016 Target group: senior management Strategic Management Seminar - Global 2000 - 2012 Target group: management teams Randstad Groep Nederland – Fast Forward Since 2019 Program for operational companies that are part of Randstad within Randstad Groep Nederland
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS?
Karolien: “When I look back on the Randstad I once started out in and compare that to today, I think about the impact of globalization and digitization, and the skills and mindsets this requires of our people. Randstad’s organization and services and its clients’ needs have all changed. Today, the only constant is everything changes. Everything is agile and fast. Naturally that’s also related to digitization. Due to the rapidly changing market in which we now find ourselves, we have to respond to a customer demand that is also changing. Digital innovation helps us to apply in our daily business processes. Adding innovation is done from the perspective of how can we work more human-centrically or which innovation contributes to optimizing our current working method. The question we constantly ask ourselves: how can we do better tomorrow? This also requires other skills from our management, which we are constantly discussing with TIAS. Filip: “Technology has definitely been an incredible game changer. Another crucial factor for me is Asia. Asia was a non-issue 20 years ago. Now, if you’re not thinking Asia you’re going to miss something. So you also see Randstad shifting emphasis towards Asia. And that makes sense. By 2030 Randstad aspires to influence the working lives of 500 million people. Well… you can’t really avoid Asia then, can you?”
HOW HAVE THE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS CHANGED WITH THIS?
Karolien: “At Randstad, we’re focused on what the market and talent demand of us. Since our 2008 merger with Vedior, then one of the top four on the market, we’ve become a much more global organization, with a much broader range of services. We started out as a temporary employment agency. We now offer a wide variety of HR services, and lead the world in that sector. And despite the different subsidiaries across the 38 countries where we operate, you also see us coming together more, both regionally and globally. This shifting context requires a shift in our leaders’ mindsets and behaviors. In 2019 this prompted the introduction of the Human Forward Leadership Framework throughout the Randstad organization, in line with shifting development needs.” Filip: “This changing context has spurred development programs to broach new topics, like digital transformation and strategic agility. For us, the Human Forward Leadership Framework, which Karolien mentioned, is a clear and effective tool to shape the new competencies. Based on these competencies, we can then ponder what this means for the content, form, type and frequency of the different programs.”
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THIS CONSTANTLY CHANGING ENVIRONMENT AND, MORE CURRENTLY, COVID ON YOUR PARTNERSHIP?
Filip: “In short: continuous innovation.” Karolien: “Exactly. Striving for perfection is also one of Randstad’s core values. We’re always thinking about how we can further improve our programs and the partnership. We both think it’s vital to constantly strive for improvement and innovation. The outbreak of the COVID crisis marked a major setback for us, as it did for many others. Our programs were already blended, but suddenly had to go completely online. Thanks to our close and trusted relationship, we could say to each other: ‘OK, so… what should we do?’ Then we took a good look at our options, together. The result: all programs are now running completely online, and together we continue to monitor and assess how they can be further improved, with an eye on the future as well.” Filip: “That’s when it all comes down to trust again. However you look at it, COVID has blown everyone into uncharted territory. Will everything work seamlessly? Perhaps not, but if we trust each other in that co-creation process, it’ll all work out. One way or another, we both arrive at that point where we say ‘this will work’. Even in times of COVID, you don’t stop developing talent.” Karolien: “No, we’ve never stopped. Talent development and helping our people reach their true potential through development remain as vital as ever at Randstad.”
CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE CHANGES HAVE AFFECTED THE DEVELOPMENT NEEDS FOR RANDSTAD?
Filip: “A real tipping point for me was the merger with Vedior. That was a massive transformation: from temp agency to total HR solutions firm. This naturally affected the programs. And it was certainly exciting, too! Bringing ex-Vedior people into a development program for the first time. I still remember that first module like it was yesterday. You actually have two different organizational identities that have to come together. What happened was one of the highpoints of the last 20 years for me. In five days, you saw a clear shift. Module 1, day 1, hour 1: ‘We’re just going to take a look at how this all works.’ Day 5, last hour of the afternoon: a complete 180º. The distinction between Randstad and Vedior had simply vanished. It was truly incredible. It was crystal clear already that the merger would be successful. Because if you achieve that result in the microcosm of one week, everything else will fall into place. It wasn’t us against them anymore: it was just us together. For me, it was highly motivating to have the chance to contribute to that.” Karolien: “We actually see this with all organizations that become part of Randstad. When Monster came aboard, you also saw that Monster colleagues really enjoyed meeting their Randstad counterparts, and vice versa, and realizing that they’re actually all facing the same problems and challenges, and thus can learn a lot from each other and together. That’s real global development. We also look at how we compose groups: how we can bring a diverse group of people together and build a strong network that stands the test of time. The interesting thing is – it often works, too! After the programs, participants stay in touch to network or help each other reflect on their development, for instance. That’s critical.”
‘We also look at how we can bring a diverse group of people together and build a strong network that stands the test of time. After the programs, participants stay in touch to network or help each other reflect on their development. That’s critical.”
WHAT IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND 20 YEARS OF DEVELOPING TOGETHER?
Karolien: “Talent development is the top priority on every level of our organization. Randstad hires you not just for your particular role, but also to develop yourself within our organization. This stems in part from our drive for internal talent development and promotion.” Filip: “This also makes Randstad one of the few organizations I know of that makes countercyclical investments. Take the 2007/2008 economic crisis, for instance. What did most companies do? Cut talent development to save on costs. What about Randstad? I still see it happening in IJmuiden, during lunch with Ben (edit: CEO Ben Noteboom). ‘Filip, we’re now running one Senior Executive Program per year. Next year I want three, because the economy will come out of the slump. And then I want to be ready with Randstad.’ Randstad’s basic rule is: ‘The only limiting factor for growth, is our people.’ It’s always that ambition to do our best for the client – through talent development. Even when times are tough. You see the same thing happening again now with the COVID crisis.” Karolien: “Randstad truly invests in people, even in uncertain times, because we know another period of growth lies ahead. When it comes, we’ll have our people ready.” Filip: “Countercyclical investment: it’s in all the textbooks, but few have the courage to actually do it.”
GREAT CONVERSATIONS ON THE SOCIAL SOFA
Within its organization, Randstad holds a lot of what it calls ‘Great Conversations’. Meaningful discussions between managers and employees to bring out the best in each other. This inspired TIAS to give Randstad a present to congratulate them on 60 years in business and commemorate 20 years of partnership between Randstad and TIAS. Starting on 28 May 2021, Randstad folks can have their Great Conversations symbolically on the Social Sofa. The owl theme in the sofa’s mosaic design was the brainchild of Randstad and stands for wisdom and thought leadership – both key ingredients for a Great Conversation. Why the Social Sofa? Social Sofas are made by people with poor job prospects in Duvelhok, the oldest textile factory still in existence in Tilburg (www.socialsofa.com). Harnessing their synergy not only creates a unique sofa, it also reveals talents and new opportunities. The social and societal aspects as well as the way every Social Sofa is created by people with unique talents link up perfectly with the ideals of TIAS as a School for Business and Society and with Randstad’s passion for bringing out the best in people and organizations.
Photo: Jacques van den Broek, Chief Executive Officer Randstad, and Jenke ter Horst, Dean & Director TIAS Business School, on the new Social Sofa.
WHERE DO YOU SEE RANDSTAD’S COMMITMENT TO TALENT DEVELOPMENT REFLECTED IN THE PROGRAMS?
Karolien: “Senior leadership is always involved in our development programs. Executive board members and managing directors actively contribute as guest speakers, as sponsors of projects, and as key stakeholders in the development of our curricula. They´ve always shown a strong commitment. It’s normal for us, but not for everyone it seems.” Filip: “No, it’s definitely not normal. For me, the continuous support and direct involvement of upper management from the Randstad organization is one of their hallmarks. I don’t know of many organizations that take the development of their human potential as seriously as Randstad. For instance, I remember one time, in one of the Senior Executive Program editions. Everything was planned out. Karolien knows this as well as I do - we are talking about the involvement of a dozen or so people, instructors, guest speakers, et cetera. And one of these people is naturally the CEO. And guess what? Something comes up. It happens. Normally at other organizations, the number 2 would fill in in that case. But at Randstad? No, the whole week needs to rescheduled because the CEO wants to be there in person. He wants to talk to his people face-to-face. That’s typical of Randstad. What stands out to me in every program is that Randstad senior management enjoys engaging in dialog with staff. The dialog and the questions make it clear to senior management what’s going on in the organization. Every question offers something new.” Karolien: “The variety of involvement from top executives also boosts participant engagement and involvement. Members of senior leadership discuss why we invest in leadership development and what’s at stake. At the end of the day, it’s about the impact on our business. The leaders taking part in the development paths have an impact on their people, their teams, the organization and ultimately also on the individual consultant. They really emphasize how vital this is.”
HOW DID YOUR PARTNERSHIP FIRST BEGIN?
Filip: “It was really simple actually. It was a public tender. Randstad wanted to develop its staff and wrote to some business schools, both national and international. We gave our pitch, and the rest is history.” Karolien: “Randstad was quite taken with the sincere interest that TIAS took in our organization and our business. No copy-and-pasting, like we occasionally see with other companies. How can you design a development program if you don’t know the organization? TIAS actually took the time to understand the challenges we were facing at the time, and then set up a truly custom-tailored program. By now, a lot more TIAS people are involved than just Filip. We now tap and deploy TIAS faculty more broadly. On top of the spin-offs within our Academy, TIAS and its faculty also work in other divisions of our organization.”
IN TERMS OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS) AND IMPACT ON SOCIETY, WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE PARTNERSHIP?
Filip: “I’d like to start with an anecdote here. A couple of years ago, I signed up (kind of last minute) for the National Sustainability Convention in Den Bosch. I get there, and who do I see as one of keynote speakers?: Jacques van den Broek of Randstad. That says something. We independently both decided to attend that event. Randstad and TIAS both there on account their social commitment.” Karolien: “I think we’re also an excellent match in that regard.”
‘We both aspire to use our positions to contribute to the economies where we operate. Social impact is important for us: for Randstad, it’s practically their raison d’être.’
Filip: “The SDGs Jacques discussed at the conference – like education quality, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, reducing inequality – actually apply perfectly to TIAS as well. Do we explicitly incorporate the SDGs into our development programs? I don’t think so. Maybe we can harness our forces around that even better.” Karolien: “It’s true we don’t yet have specific measurement points. But implicitly the work is definitely happening. Take diversity, for instance. We give a lot of attention to diversity in background, personality and gender. The leaders who develop themselves in our programs will ultimately help their teams contribute towards the SDGs we cover in our integrated annual report. So in that sense, we use talent development to contribute towards a better, more sustainable society.” Filip: “We both aspire to use our positions to contribute to the economies where we operate. Social impact is important for us: for Randstad, it’s practically their raison d’être. I think we’ll work together on this even better and more frequently in the future, and perhaps develop forms of collaboration that make these implicit efforts more explicit.”
WE ARE YOU THE PROUDEST OF, COLLECTIVELY?
Filip: “Whenever I hear from a former participant, personally or through a TIAS colleague, that he or she used a framework or model from one of our programs with a client, I feel proud. It means someone, in one session or another, saw something they could use to perform better.” Karolien: “Yes, I also have those moments. We try to make sure people can bring out the best in themselves and others. When I hear someone say ‘I applied this or that’, ‘I shared that tool with my team’ or ‘I used a more effective leadership style in a particular situation’, I think: yes, we’re making an impact! That’s what it’s all about!” Filip: “It’s about those really small details at the individual level. As the saying goes: the little things add up.”
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE?
Karolien: “We can’t see into the future, but we can create a future together. The impacts of new technologies and constant change will never let up. That also makes it fun and exciting. The Randstad where I started is not the Randstad I work at now. We’re always developing. Offering people the skills and tools to lead change – that’s what we’re about now.” Filip: “How can we train a generation of leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty? That has implications on the content, form, topics and delivery formats of our programs. I think it’s also why the partnership has lasted so well. There’s never a dull moment with Randstad. Something’s always changing. I sometimes get asked: ‘Filip, you’ve been working with Randstad for 20 years now. Aren’t you getting a bit bored with that organization?’ I always answer: ‘No way! Continuous change, expansion, technology, new organizational model. Randstad keeps us on the ball.’” Karolien: “We’re a good fit in so many ways. That’s why we’re future-proof. We’re definitely ready for 20 more years.” Filip: “I can stick around for seven more years myself. After that, I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder: did I make a difference? The Randstad story will come in at number 1 for me, because I’ve spent so much time working with the organization and, in my own way, helping shape the development of their people and organization. It’s a privilege to have that opportunity.”
“From our history, core values, trust and drive for perfection, to our continuous innovation, ambitions and keen interest in one another – TIAS and Randstad are a perfect match.” Jacques van den Broek Chief Executive Officer Randstad
Randstad has been an active leader in the labor market for 60 years. We help people find jobs and shape their careers. We help companies meet their goals by deploying the best people and the most innovative custom solutions.
TIAS School for Business and Society helps people and organizations in their transition to ‘business with a purpose’. Companies that do not operate in isolation from society and that want to strike a new balance between their role in society and their own sustainability.
“We see the complementary nature of Randstad and TIAS reflected in our core activities: Randstad as HR service provider and TIAS as an expert in education, connected by the shared aim of optimal development and utilization of people’s personal and professional capacities. All working towards a stronger, more sustainable and more inclusive society.”
Jenke ter Horst Dean & Director TIAS Business School
Tias Incompany Customized Programs TIAS guarantees impactful, interactive, dynamic top notch programs: professional, personal, with excellent execution. Want to know more about the possibilities? Feel free to contact me.
Miranda Bol Director InCompany Programs +31 13 466 86 43
TIAS is the business school of Tilburg University and Eindhoven University of Technology.
NEVER STOP ASKING