Rethinking your Executive Recruitment Strategy: When you don’t have a successor; Slow down to speed up.

The day a senior member of an executive team resigns is always a shock to the system, even when there were a few in the know. It is at this time that the team and organisation tends to react swiftly to close the gap. Speed to close is often the primary indicator of success. The reality is that we will only really know how successful we were in responding to this exit 18 to 24 months after the new individual has joined. This is because time to real productivity and return on investment with new people moving into key roles takes 18 to 24 months. Much of the performance for the immediate 6 months that follows the resignation is legacy from the previous incumbent.

The primary measure should be how quickly and realistically can we get an individual productive in the new role. Hence speed to productivity should be the primary measure, focusing on a “realistic” 18 to 24 month timeframe. One of the primary reasons often given by hiring executives when making the choice between following an executive search vs. contingent recruitment approach to replacing the individual is not price, but rather “I don’t have time for that”. An executive search process aims to address three critical success factors in the speed to productivity equation.

Key stakeholders and peers are not aligned on what and who is best fit for the role:

This has a significant impact on the time it takes to agree and ultimately hire candidates as this alignment then happens once individuals are already in the interview process. Secondly having the support of your peers and stakeholders coming into a new role is a critical enabler to becoming a productive and integrated member of the team.

Hire for today, and not focused on the future organisational requirements:

Going to the external market for senior hires should also be viewed as a primary opportunity to support the strategic growth of an organisation. Bringing in more of the same skills, culture and experience does not enable the strategic intent. Hence getting a keen sense of how the organisation is wishing to transform is key. Often new executives are brought into a role to bring about change but because this has not been effectively socialised, they tend to run into significant resistance and leave within 2 years.

Managing the candidate expectations and the talent market:

A key element of going out into the market for top talent, is that one is competing with other organisations for this talent. A search process provides a continuous loop of market and candidate information that enables the hiring organisation to proactively adapt their hiring strategy for a particular skill and ensure that they are best able to compete for the best talent. All skills are not equal in any market. This creates a critical opportunity also to manage the candidate’s expectations and ensure that the “deal” competes and has the right stickiness’ not only within the market, but also matched to the candidate. This stickiness is critical for longer term retention, which ultimately links back to getting the right return on investment for a new hire.

Written by: John Brodie

Consulting, Talent