Often times, performance improvement hinges on making an important executive hire that is necessary to fill a key gap in your team. When teams begin to consistently miss their KPIs, MBOs and other metrics, the consequences of low performance fall squarely on the shoulders of the CEO.
Achieving high-growth at a startup is difficult, and it can be an even bigger feat to sustain the same level of growth as a company matures. Series B funding comes with greater expectations for founders and CEOs. Boards can easily decide that in this pivotal moment, given the performance metrics or lack thereof, it may also be time for that dreaded conversation about a succession plan or an immediate replacement plan.
So what can you do as a CEO when you are in the midst of a turn-around plan, or have already launched an executive search and the board is worried about continued deterioration in performance?
First, understand that when any board expresses this concern to the CEO, what they really mean is, “You better make something happen fast.” The hard truth is that they are not talking about your team’s failure to perform; they are talking about your failure in leadership performance. If you are incapable of solving this problem as a leader, you might have reached the end of your tenure.
Making the right or wrong executive hire in this situation can be your saving grace, or give the board more reason to give you the boot.
The weight of this pressure on a CEO can unfortunately make a hiring process all the more difficult. Board members might want to step into operating roles, make introductions and suggest potential candidates to fill the role. This is well-intentioned, and occasionally seems like a promising idea. As a CEO, you feel obligated to meet those candidates and the feeling is awfully similar to being set up on a blind date by a friend who means well, but does not fully understand what your wants and needs are.
These kinds of referrals still limit you to Level 2 Recruiting — a blunt, passive recruiting strategy based on referrals, networking and candidates that are leftover from other searches or unemployed (often with good reason). As CEO, if you end up hiring the person the board recommended and it does not work out, you are still the one responsible for the whole mess.
The biggest factor determining the success or failure of any CEO is his or her ability to recruit and hire well. And when something as important as an executive search — and potentially your own position in an organization — is on the line, you want to make sure that the job is done with mastery.
Rather than you or your board members dabbling in recruiting and using up the precious time and energy you need to drive your team’s performance, bring in the right expert — not just someone referred by the board. Partner with someone who has built companies like yours before, who understands core competencies and culture fit and can elevate your search to Level 3 Recruiting™. Level 3 Recruiting™ is about precision extraction and a refined selection process that secures the top 1 percent A-plus executive leaders.
This collaborative process is the best way CEOs and boards, especially in the midst of intense pressure or even in a crisis situation, can make sure they make the best hire.
Image credit: CC by Gloria Bell