Unprecedented with Darius Matusiak

Published 11th February 2021

At Unprecedented, we had the opportunity to talk to Darius Matusiak, Regional Managing Director at Macildowie, who told us about how his company has been affected by the pandemic.

A background into you

I’ve worked at Macildowie, one of the UK's leading independent recruitment businesses for 10 years now. As the Regional Managing Director, I am currently responsible for the development of our Finance, HR, Business Operations and Sales & Marketing Divisions, but I have undertaken a lot of other responsibilities while working for Macildowie. Some of which include taking on the role as Senior and Executive HR Recruiter to establishing a HR division in the South Midlands and Milton Keynes, and taking responsibility for the development of our Finance, HR, Business Operations and Sales & Marketing Divisions.

Define leadership and what being a leader means to you.

Leadership to me is about helping people believe and achieve more than they could without your intervention. It’s about creating future leaders, not followers and it’s about giving people the courage to try, fail and learn.

“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for dinner, teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for life.”

Who are your Leadership role models/inspirations?

I have few role models and inspirations for different reasons. Michael Jordan is definitely one of my role models in terms of his ability to take games by the scruff of the neck and lead through action.

I’m also inspired by Sir Alex Ferguson’s ability to reinvent himself and create sustainable success.

Finally, Warren Buffet is one of my role models because of his values-driven approach.

What are the “non-negotiable” behaviours that you expect you and those around you to live by?

I expect hard work & humility from the people around me as much as I expect it from myself. I also believe that doing the right thing is incredibly important.

If you are humble, then you can listen, which means you can learn and that is essential to succeeding in anything. With hard work, you can develop from your current standing point and by doing the right thing you will give and earn the trust of others.

What impact has Covid-19 had on you?

I’ve had to adapt throughout the pandemic. I have had to learn how to lead remotely and I’ve had to find new ways of creating energy for myself and my team because I thrive on the energy of other people. I’ve found that exercise has been great for helping with this.

What impact has covid had on your business?

We’ve evolved our model to focus on a retention offer, in addition to recruitment. I fundamentally don’t think this would have happened but for COVID19. Working remotely has allowed us to increase our velocity of change and forced us to innovate. I’ve also personally found that I’m more efficient.

Are there any people within your support network who made a big positive impact on you as a Business Leader during those early weeks/months?

Our CEO listened to people and priorities the health and wellbeing of our employees. We experimented with 4 day weeks and 90-minute lunches to ensure that we are doing our very best to look after the health and wellbeing of the Macs Family and to try and create a platform for people to be the best version of themselves. From what we’ve seen on social media, it looks as if the guys have already been making use of it and using the time as we hoped.

What was your internal comms strategy at the start of lockdown?

Our initial comms strategy was to communicate more information more regularly. To achieve this, our CEO led a bi-weekly business update so that we were all informed on how our business was performing and how the market was recovering. This provided reassurance and hope.

What have been the Unprecedented decisions you have made? Those where there was no playbook.

Having to make some employees redundant is one of the unprecedented decisions that I have had to make. Not knowing how hard COVID-19 would or wouldn’t hit and for how long made things very difficult when it came to making decisions about how much cost needed to be removed from the business. This was made even harder by the fact that we had to carry this out while also making sure it wasn’t at the expense of being able to take advantage of the recovery.

The word pivot was used unprecedently in May/June. What have you done to innovate or differentiate you or your business?

We’ve developed a retention offering for our customers. We understand that our customers need more from their recruitment partners than bums on seats and so, we developed an offering that helps customers look after their whole people strategy. This includes helping them with cultural audits, creating awareness and empathy within teams, helping them setting their visions and values and assisting in the development of their employer brand.

What is the biggest (or best) decision you have made in 2020?

To further empower some of our more senior operators is definitely one of the best decisions I made in 2020. I partly had to do this through the circumstances of the situation but the decision was easy when looking at the way that these people had responded since COVID-19 hit. Doing this has resulted in significant improvements in performance across the board because new ideas and innovative ways of doing things have been implemented.

What remain your 3 biggest challenges?

  1. Not knowing how long this will last and what the effects will be.

  2. Planning for the future, because of the above.

  3. Ensuring that we protect the mental health of our employees.

How have you/your business evolved from a digital/tech perspective?

We have welcomed digital communication into our business as we have embraced Zoom for meetings and WhatsApp groups for quick communications. In truth, it feels like the new normal now.

Looking ahead to 2021 what are your predictions for the economy? For your sector? 

I believe that throughout 2021 we will see recruitment continue to bounce back as post restructures companies always re-recruit at different levels. However, I think that the talent shortage will return as a result of the advancements in digital technology.

At the beginning of 2020, we were in a talent short market. What is at the top of your "people strategy" agenda for 2021? 

Helping our employees take advantage of the recovery by co-creating career development plans with them is at the top of our “people strategy”. We believe that now is the time for them to catapult their careers forward as we start to recover from the effects of the pandemic. 

Has "succession planning" risen up your people agenda?

Yes, it has because as we recover, the growth will create new opportunities for people to advance their careers within our business. 

What are you doing to retain your superstars/leaders of the future? 

We’re creating an internal leadership development program for our staff and have started implementing PDPs to help us understand our team members wants and needs.

Fast forward to 2050...What would you say to your future self...That you did well or badly in 2020 to learn from?

I would say that we handled it well. I think that we remained realistic and avoided making knee-jerking decisions while retaining a sense of optimism. We were very passionate about prioritising the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees, and I don’t think we would do anything differently.  

As a Leadership Team, how have you re-defined your vision and values? What have you done to make your culture remote-work friendly? 

The visions and values have pretty much defined themselves organically as a result of the way that our teams have supported each other and delivered results through a passion for what they do. 

What advice would you give to those entering the workforce today?

Be flexible and open-minded. It’s great to have a plan but in an environment like this and it’s important to see opportunity in things you may not have considered before. 

Think about developing your personal brand – treat your job search like you would the marketing of a new business – who is your target audience, what are your USPs, how will they benefit the businesses you want to work for etc. 

I’ve realised the importance of nurturing your health. Having balance in your life is key. You need other sources of energy, not just your job. A better you = a better working you. 

If you’ve found the story of how Darius Matusiak and Macildowie have worked through the pandemic interesting, why not visit their website or LinkedIn to learn more about the business. Alternatively, you can find out more about Darius on his Twitter.

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