Executive Search Committee Best Practices

Over the course of our careers, we have worked with countless Management and Board Search Committees. We’ve learned a great deal in that time, and we want to share some key insights and takeaways with you. Here are the top 10 Committee practices that lead to an efficient search with a successful outcome.

1. Keep the committee small – 3-5 is ideal. More than 7 is too many.

Less is more. Whether you’re trying to schedule meetings, making time for every member to provide their input or arriving at a decision, when your group is too large, the returns are diminished.

2. Clearly define how the decision will be made

Before the search process begins, define when, how and by whom a final decision will be made, approved and communicated. This process will be a key driver of the search schedule and communication strategy, so it pays to plan it out thoughtfully.

3. Don’t start until current and future needs are clearly defined. Review and confirm regularly.

It’s essential that everyone on the Search Committee is “hiring the same person.” Consider what is needed now and in the future. Push yourselves to agree on what is essential and what is preferred – there’s often a difference. If you put the work in on this upfront, the process of identifying and achieving consensus on the best candidate is simplified.

4. Seek input on candidate qualifications from internal and external constituents

A search is an opportunity to engage key internal and external constituents in a critical decision. People like this often provide insight on organizational blind spots and help identify essential competencies for the next leader. This is also a good source for candidate referrals and assistance with onboarding the new leader.

5. Insist on rigorous and original research

Every search is unique and the approach to sourcing candidates must be tailored to finding the right candidate pool. Never settle for a limited scope search of people in the network of the Committee or database of a firm. These can be a good source of candidates. But a qualified firm will go far beyond that to identify and vet new, original candidates who meet the criteria that you carefully defined. And that’s what’s needed.

6. Set regular updates with the search firm or internal recruiter

Once the search has begun, time is of the essence and regular communication between the recruiter, Committee Lead and candidates is essential to ensure an efficient and effective process. We recommend scheduling weekly calls between the Search Committee Chair and search firm.

7. Provide regular updates to the Board and Organization

Board members and employees who are outside of the search process appreciate knowing how the search is going and what the timeline is for a decision. Sharing updates at each key milestone ensures that everyone feels informed. Plus, it enhances trust and confidence in the Search Committee. Information related to specific candidates is confidential but general updates are always appreciated.

8. Rigorous Assessments are critical

Use of assessments that are valid and reliable for selection and promotion such as the HOGAN, EQi 2.0 and critical thinking assessments provide invaluable insight into a candidate. This is the kind of information that can’t be identified through interviews and reference checks. Your search firm should provide these assessments as a part of the process. If you are using an internal recruiter, you can contract with a firm to provide assessments for final candidates.

9. 360 reference checks are a must

Final candidates should provide a wide variety of references. We request a minimum of six references including two supervisors, two peers and two direct reports. Getting a variety of perspectives provides valuable information about the candidate and can be an indicator of their track record and reputation. It may be challenging to find six qualified references if candidates have not developed strong relationships in their past positions.

10. Devise a structured on-boarding with defined success metrics

The end of the search is only the beginning. Taking the time to plan for and execute an effective on-boarding process – including a clear definition of success – will shorten the time needed to reach key success metrics.

Catapult is far more than a search firm. If you’re interested in learning more about our holistic approach to Executive Search, please contact us at 716-256-1550.

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