hiring executives

3 Ways to Hire Executives Who Will Last Decades

by Steve Yakesh

Given the significant impact (positive or negative) that leadership can have on an organization, hiring an executive is not an easy endeavor. Hiring a sales and marketing leader could potentially provide a million dollar annual revenue increase for even small companies. Bringing in the right operations leader could realistically shave hundreds of thousands of dollars in logistics costs or manufacturing waste from the bottom line. Finding a top CFO could mean the difference between securing thousands (or millions) of dollars from a venture capital firm or bank. In fact, executive hiring decisions are among the most critical decisions a CEO can make.

Having placed 50+ executive positions in the past year, the Versique team has spoken with many CEOs about what led up to them asking for our assistance in finding a top executive talent. I’m happy to report, many of our searches came as the result of company expansion or growth. Additionally, there are three reasons that come up frequently when companies look to replace an executive.

Short Term Goals

Problem: Every CEO we talk with has a strategic plan with a one, three, and five to ten year targets. Unfortunately, many CEOs do not revisit these targets to build out a profile for their next executive. Too often, they hire an executive that can help them accomplish year one, but lacks the experience to achieve organizational goals in year three or five. The company simply outgrows the capacity of the executive.

Solution: Make sure you incorporate the entire strategic plan into your executive profile and hire according to that.

Industry Experience 

Problem: Given the complexities of some businesses, hiring executives from within your industry is crucial. That being said, you have to understand that by doing so, you dramatically limit your candidate pool. If you recruit a COO with industry experience, (assuming you don’t want to deal with the expenses and time of relocation) you’ll find yourself competing with only five to ten local companies for the exact same candidates.

Solution: Broaden your search by looking at candidates in adjacent industries. Your candidate pool now multiplies 10 or 20 fold. Odds are only in your favor when you have 200 potential candidates to choose from, rather than only ten. While further assessment may be called for with a candidate with less industry-specific experience, we can use their experience to identify other attributes that make them a great fit. If a candidate does extremely well as an operations executive in another industry, he/she is more than likely a smart individual who will immerse themselves into your industry and get up to speed quickly.

Development Plan

Problem: Yes, hiring an executive means they are probably self-driven; however, if they are not in your seat, they more than likely want to build their skill set to eventually get there. Like most employees (at any level), they crave professional growth. It’s all too familiar for us to see companies provide great professional development opportunities for their staff, but ignore development plans for their executive team.

Solution: Create and implement a development plan for each of your leaders. Make sure they understand the track and be in communication with them to ensure they feel challenged. You’ll find investing in employee development at all levels has benefits for your entire organization.

Have you ever encountered these common hiring challenges at the executive level? Tell your story in the comments below! For assistance building your executive team, contact our Executive Retained Search team today.

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