Around 46% of leadership appointments and 50% of leadership transitions fail within 18 months. Undoubtedly disturbing results for such an important activity. And the cost of this failure is more unsettling, at least 3.3x the first years compensation and often much higher.
We have identified five moments in the recruitment process where opportunities can be lost or gained.
The recruitment process is often an intense affair with considerable ground covered in a short space of time. There are five distinct points in the process where our judgement, unconscious decision making and memory can become distorted. The result will have a critical impact on the success or failure of a key hire.
Often the brief for a leadership hire focuses on past career experience, current job title or ‘get me the person responsible for the same function’ at a specific competitor.
Executive searches often focus on factors that lack contextual relevance. After all, just because someone delivered impressive growth in a well-funded PE. business doesn’t make them right for a global corp.
Coupled to this sometimes flawed definition of requirements, we find the focus is on skills and attributes that were needed for what the company historically. Loosing sight of what is required to take the business to the next level in the coming years.
Matching the candidates with experience from the right context is vital to appointing leaders who last and excel.
Utilising our Hire Insight™ platform, our process combines our unique Leader Landscape Survey Tool™ together with proven Behavioural Traits surveys.
These online surveys canvas opinion from stakeholders about the attributes of the right candidate. The combined results identify where opinions align (and where they don’t) so consensus can be achieved.
Think of this as sign-posting the destination before the journey starts.
The very best candidates tend to be in demand and time-poor. The chances of catching their attention with a quick call or email and a re-cycled job description are, at best, slim.
A survey of senior candidates revealed just 12% received any useful information ahead of the interview.
One of the key differences between the best candidates and the rest, is they have ruthless focus on achieving what they want; effectively blind and deaf to distractions which are not central to their goal
Recruiting great leaders is as much about engaging their interest as it is about choosing ‘who’.
In order to catch the attention of great candidates and ensure they give their time we provide two engagement tools.
1. Our role-marketing-pages allow us to send candidates to a beautiful landing page detailing the opportunity and benefits whilst we are talking to them. These pages can be password protected where appropriate and are a powerful way of gaining traction with high calibre candidates.
2. Once the candidate has been screened, we invite them into our private and secure online portal where they are presented with detailed information about the role, organisation and objectives. We’ve found that including videos is particularly powerful. This experience helps to set your business apart from other opportunities and sharing background information maximises valuable interview time .
It remains a mystery that despite plenty of research on the most effective ways of predicting future performance, almost all leadership recruitment processes rely on CV’s and unstructured interviews.
This approach mis-directs attention to superficial details that encourage bias: past employer, job title, university, age, race, gender, orientation and even speed of response.
The chances of making the right hiring decision are further diminished by reliance on the candidates answers during the interview. This overlooks that the success of senior leaders is about more than just their ability to say the right thing in conversation. Their motivations, behavioural traits, ability to think correctly under pressure, commercial acumen are examples of vital attributes which become overlooked.
To ensure that each candidate is judged on meaningful factors our remote assessment centres layer together:
The process of completing these layers creates a motivation test for candidates ensuring that the shortlist contains only highly motivated candidates.
The profiles provide each interviewer with a meaningful overview and granular detail about each candidate allowing them to be objectively assessed.
A key component of success, even for elite candidates, is operating in a landscape of support, trust and psychological safety. Initially incoming leaders have limited knowledge about an organisation. The support of key stakeholders helps establish newcomers and protect against sabotage, however subtle, that often derails new leaders.
Very few leadership hiring processes canvas opinion from stakeholders through the hiring process. Therefore it is common to find disagreement about the choice of appointment.
Canvasing input from stakeholders throughout the process promotes a consensus about ‘who’., Even where compromise is necessary, there is pressure on the stakeholders to ensure ‘their’ choice is successful.
Stakeholders are included from the beginning of the process. The Leader Landscape Survey Tool™ and McQuaig™ Behavioural Traits Survey gather input for the requirements mandate. The combined information ensures the search is directionally appropriate from the start.
Once candidates have been presented, stakeholders provide feedback in the ratings score-card. This‘calibration’ process is completely blind to mitigate the influence of the ratings others have done.
The involvement by stakeholders at key stages means that even those who have not been involved in interviews have still had a strong voice in the appointment.
The success of the new appointment is a direct reflection on them, which we have found fosters a supportive culture around the new hire.
Recruiting for a leadership position is usually not a regular occurrence and so the decision makers conducting the interviews are often ‘ring rusty’. Coupled to this, unlike more junior roles there is typically no tried and tested process and so the interviews are unstructured or inconsistent.
This results in opinions about candidates being formed on different factors often with no calibration process amongst different interviewers.
Another factor at play is ‘reputation bias’ – where the interviewer is reluctant to challenge, explore and probe a candidate’s background because of their reputation or past achievements.
These factors combine, with many interviewers not addressing their biases (conscious or unconscious) and result in a lack of objectivity. This leads to the wrong decision about ‘who’ and great candidates being turned down for reasons that are irrelevant to the role.
Building on the direction provided by the Leader Landscape Survey Tool™ and McQuaig™ Behavioural Traits Survey we have developed two highly effective tools:
The Interview Journal provides structure to each interview and formalises the sharing of interview notes between different stages of the process.
The candidate ratings tool (within Hire Insight™) canvases feedback from each interviewer within a flexible category framework. Interviewers rate candidates confidentially without visibility of other scores We have found this neutralises any effect of dominant personalities in the ratings process.
These tools enable a fair and balanced evaluation of candidates against the needs of the role and move decision-making away from just choosing ‘who’s best’, regardless of whether they can actually do the job.
In less than 5 minutes.