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Executive Hiring Tips—Part 3: Link Organizational Objectives with Open Roles

Ambiguity in role performance expectations can be the biggest turn-off to a candidate. To prevent this from happening, keep these guidelines in mind:

  1. Don’t get hung up on what the candidate will be responsible for. Instead, get to what he or she is accountable to deliver.
  2. Executives want to be big stakeholders, so it’s appealing when you share their big picture impact.
  3. With “objective sharing”, the more substantive, the better.

Whether you’re looking for an executive to carry out an already set plan, or to set the vision for the plan itself, focus the conversation on what you expect him/her to be accountable for, i.e. define their impact potential to your organization with clear business objectives first. Once you establish that, you’ve got their attention, and then the specific responsibilities or details can follow.

For example, in executive sales and customer-facing new business development roles, positions that are responsible for managing “lead flow” (tactical) are less appealing than roles that are accountable for delivering 80% of new business to the sales team (strategic/impactful). Although, both statements are equally true, one focuses the discussion around responsibilities, and the other on accountability and big picture impact to the company.

With objective sharing, companies that put key performance indicators on the role present an opportunity for the executive to understand his/her role’s impact and profitability to the business. Performance indicators should be looked at from a cost, as well as a “gains” perspective and mapped specifically to the role under consideration. This subtle distinction can be an important leadership tool for the new hire to wield in their new charter.

When stating role objectives, show how they change and grow over the course of time. If you don’t want turnover in that position in the next two years, then show objectives that are longer than that timeframe! The candidates will know that this is a strategic, long-term hire, and their ability to impact future success is present in the role.

Steve O’Deegan is Managing Director of Vantage Partners, a leading retained executive search firm in the Bay Area. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone (408) 656-7079. Visit Vantage Partners at www.vantagepartners.net