James Lafferty is Executive VP of USA Technology for Austin Fraser, an award winning leader in IT staffing. His focus is to provide strategic direction and support to build his firm’s US presence.
James Lafferty is an #EverydayLeader!
I asked James a few questions about his leadership approach. Here’s what he had to say.
When it comes to your day to day work, what is the single biggest leadership challenge you face?
If only there was a single challenge we faced but being realistic there are many.
From external business competition to internal hiring there are new challenges every day and this is what makes this role and industry so exciting. Personally, it is hiring that proves to be most challenging (which is ironic as we work within the staffing industry).
We have been established in the US for a little over two years now and built up a great reputation with clients, candidates and our staff (4.8 star rating on Glassdoor).
We currently have 20 Austin based employees and each one of them is a superstar. It may have taken us longer to assemble this team than we had hoped but we couldn’t be happier. Each person has a clear career path and training to ensure they know where to go and how to get there.
We interviewed over 300 people to get to this number however now we have this established and tenured team, the initial time and effort of going through all these interviews makes it all worthwhile.
What 2–3 strategies do you use to maximize your leadership effectiveness?
Everyone has different opinions and experiences within business during their careers. Rather than teach them or tell them how it’s done we have an open-door policy (there are no offices) where everyone is encouraged to come up with ideas to improve the business.
A lot of our best ideas have come from people who have never worked within the industry before. If everyone feels like they are contributing towards the business being amazing then we all own it and love it.
We have a culture that embraces and even welcomes change. This is great as it means we can look at the smaller challenges and change them for the better, which, in turn, makes the bigger challenges easier!
As well as looking forward we are also very good at reflecting on what we have done and how we can improve it even more next time. Even if the result was perfect, we will look at it. This mentality from every employee means we are constantly getting better and continuously improve our service.
What’s been the firm’s growth strategy in Austin?
Our strategy is to provide clients with quality candidates and to provide candidates with the best opportunities in Austin that suits their needs. To do this each person at Austin Fraser is responsible for a particular tech stack and have their finger firmly on the pulse of what is happening on their market.
As a UK business coming into the US marketplace, how did you build your brand from the ground up?
It was a great challenge since there is no shortage of recruitment/staffing firms in the US. However, there has been a gap in the market for a company to work on those hard to fill positions. This is how we managed to prove ourselves to start with.
We were placing jobs which other companies couldn’t which demonstrated our capabilities as a consultancy. The clients and candidates had a great experience and we have a very high repeat business percentage from clients and lots of referrals from happy candidates.
To build the brand was a lot of fun. We fully immersed ourselves into the Austin business sense. From attending networking events and tech meet ups to being Presidential Members of the Chamber of Commerce and involved in the Austin Technology Council. We love to get involved. We have also featured in Best Places to Work in Austin, Fittest Company in Austin and were shortlisted for the Top International Business Awards.
What type of leader are you?
Leaders and managers must strike a balance between people orientation and task orientation.
Too much people orientation? Bad.
Too much task orientation? Bad.
Not enough of either? Really Bad.
Makes we wonder… How do #EverydayLeaders strike a balance? What mix of people versus task orientation is effective?
So I created a quick easy and fun quiz to help you understand your preferred management style. Click here to take the quiz.