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Why Executive Searches Fail & How To Recruit Better

Why Executive Searches Fail & How To Recruit Better

Recruiting is fundamentally about human relationships. And research shows that even the most profound and intimate of human relationships, marriage, many times fails. Unless you have a structured methodology to recruit and achieve 90% or better success rates, executive search is no different.

The truth is that there is an A+ player for every role in every company. In fact, the success of any CEO will be determined by his or her ability to recruit and hire well. And so, on the recommendation of a Board member or your investor, you’ve gone out and engaged a big brand executive recruitment firm to help you secure the right executive. And unbeknownst to you, this was the worst possible thing you could do.

Companies frequently repeat their mistakes and cycle through two or more wrong hires before the right candidate finally sticks. In fact, the stress of this tumult increases the likelihood that a company will embark on yet another doomed executive search or prolong the suffering with their existing search partner.

The skull-crushing pain, suffering and brain damage that comes along with making a bad hiring or search partner decision is often preceded by something like this:

  1. You are missing your KPI’s, MBO’s, performance metrics and your own expertise in making it better is limited.
  2. The Board is worried about continued deterioration in performance.
  3. The person doing the role right now is failing – the needs of the business have outgrown their personal growth curve. But he or she is a really nice person or you have a deep history with them and don’t want to betray the trust or loyalty they have shown you.
  4. You feel like no one really understands what it takes to be successful in the role or to help you achieve your mission.
  5. You’re missing a key player on your leadership team and it’s affecting your entire operation.
  6. You are not seizing market share the way that you would like. The market opportunity is getting away from you; you’re not penetrating deeply enough. There’s competition in your business. You’re frustrated.
  7. There was a saying, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM,” that you applied to hiring a big brand search firm. You now realize they have no clue about what you need. Worse, they don’t care.
  8. Your executive search partner was just the “deal” maker and a junior associate is running your search.
  9. The candidates you are meeting don’t meet your requirements. And you don’t have time to waste.
  10. You are getting candidates that are unemployed, available and convenient leftovers for the search firm to submit to you.
  11. The search firm is sending you candidates with horrible culture fit or candidates that don’t pass the airport test.
  12. Your team is overworked and your need for this hire is growing stronger, so you’re thinking about settling for a candidate that is “good enough.”
  13. The candidates’ experience set is not quite right or not the one you need. Yet your frustration with the process makes you really want to consider hiring them.
  14. What if you hire one of these candidates and they fail?
  15. You already made a bad hire in this role and they failed.
  16. What am I not seeing or what if the candidate is hiding something?

This hire is so important. You want to hire someone you LOVE for this role! You are spread so thin and the pressure you are putting on yourself is even greater than the pressure coming from your Board. You don’t want to fail. The Board is sending you resumes and making introductions to potential candidates. You feel obligated to meet those candidates and the feeling is awfully similar to being set up on a blind date by someone who has no idea what your wants and needs are. You thought throwing money at the problem and hiring a big brand search firm would make things better and it has only made things worse for you.

How To Make It Better

No progress can be made until the truth is spoken. Recruiting and hiring well is a leadership competency. And like different elements of leadership can be developed, cultivated and mastered, so too can your recruiting and selection prowess be mastered.

First, you must develop and invest in a smart plan, a process to evaluate the wide reaches of the market for top leaders and recruit the highest-caliber executive leader that is right for you.

In order to build the organization you envision, there are some things that you must do to create clarity. Clarity is power. Before you create absolute clarity around the criteria for your executive hire (more on this in another post), first you must create clarity around your ideal executive search partner. Choose a master level recruiter from whom you can learn.

Here’s how you can tell if you’ve found the right executive search partner:

  1. Big search firms build big, slow-moving companies and their process takes much longer to complete. Hire a firm that specializes in helping to build the kind of high-growth company you operate. You need a firm that works with as much intensity and efficiency as you do. A boutique firm is the way to go – one that is agile and nimble with a strong tactile sense of your needs.
  2. Full clarity on technical chops is just the minimum requirement for a recruiter. Technical chops are no guarantee of whether a candidate can work with the team, fit into the company culture, and stay motivated and engaged in the long term.
  3. Great recruiters understand the importance of your core values & organizational culture. They will add value by understanding a company’s cultural DNA. They should have the capability and competency to viably measure and assess candidates’ core values and deliver candidates who will fit and integrate into your team perfectly. They’ve mastered Core Fit Process.
  4. They have a proven methodology for achieving outstanding results. Choose an executive search firm engaged in only the highest level of executive recruiting – Level 3 Recruiting. Level 3 is about a refined selection process, precision extraction and securing top 1% of A+ executive leaders
  5. Look for a search partner who has been on the inside, building a company with his or her own hands. A search executive who has been on the inside, rapidly scaling up both an executive team and the functional teams that support them, will understand your needs and growing pains intuitively.

Marcus Aurelius said “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Fear, greed and scarcity are all part of the same mindset and can break your leadership dreams. To grow a thriving leadership team and business, the opposite is needed. Exercise your abundance mindset and the bold confidence you need to achieve your mission.

Dave PartnersWhy Executive Searches Fail & How To Recruit Better