Nothing quickens the pulse or conjures beads of sweat on the brow of a mild-mannered CEO than the departure of a key member of the executive leadership team.
Like it or not, the door to your company’s success swings in both directions, and often, you may find yourself on the drafty side, wondering how you’re going to replace that experience, counsel, and leadership.
It is not unexpected that you might react as if your garments were on fire – getting HR, third-party recruiters, and the Pope involved in the search for the next great permanent replacement. But given the complexity of the role, the importance of getting the right fit, and the need to ensure the replacement is an appropriate consigliere, is trying to squeeze a round-ish peg into an oval hole the best approach?
I recently sat down with Josh McAfee, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based recruitment company Humans Doing. We dove into the most fundamental question you should ask on Day One post-departure: Should I pursue a full-time executive right now, or is a fractional resource a more appropriate path to pursue?
Figuring this out is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – equal parts art and science, in our estimation. When Josh and I have found ourselves helping CEOs make this decision, we encouraged them to start by not just looking at the totality of the situation but peeling back the layers of the onion. Beneath those sweet petals lie fellow members of the executive leadership team, investors, stakeholders, and others whose hopes and dreams are riding on your decision for the next quality hire in the role.
Clearly, this points to a deeper analysis of what the business truly requires. Here are some steps Josh and I agreed are best to take in the wake of an executive departure:
Instead, consider the immediate needs of the organization and whether a quick fix, such as a fractional executive, could provide the necessary support while allowing for a more thoughtful and strategic long-term hiring process.
If you take the time to clarify the correct requirements, you can bring some efficiency to the search process, ensuring a more accurate match between the executive's skill set and the role's demands. This attention to detail not only expedites the hiring process but also can help you avoid a mismatch down the road.
These folks give you a great deal of flexibility, allowing you to tap into specialized skills immediately without committing to a full-time role. Plus, fractional hires not only keep time and money in your pocket but they provide the agility to scale resources up or down based on the organization's evolving needs. This strategic utilization of fractional expertise can be a game-changer.
With the need to carefully evaluate whether the current requirements warrant a permanent, long-term executive or if a more flexible, short-term approach aligns better with the organization's goals, striking the right balance ensures that resources are allocated judiciously, addressing immediate needs without compromising long-term strategic objectives.
Consider whether the executive's vision and expertise support the company's growth trajectory, and how they can contribute to the overall success and expansion of the business. A well-aligned executive ensures that their efforts contribute seamlessly to the larger strategic goals, driving the organization forward in a cohesive manner.
Undertaking this as a solo venture can lead to futility. As you assemble your team to conquer the climb ahead, you’ll find it helpful to have an objective lens. At the risk of sounding like we’re tooting our own horns, it is true: External perspectives can illuminate areas where blind spots exist and prevent decisions based on biases.
Collaborating with external consultants can provide fresh insights, especially when you consider the tasks of redefining requirements, aligning roles, and gauging the actual business needs accurately. Plus, we’ll help you avoid confirmation bias – which can be a cancer on the whole executive hiring process. People like Josh and I provide an objective gap analysis, ensuring the role's alignment with the business strategy without being influenced by preconceived notions.
The efficiency of fractional roles can be game-changing. It’s not just about filling a gap; it's about strategically steering the business towards its future. Balancing immediate needs with long-term aspirations defines whether a full-time powerhouse or a fractional efficiency expert will truly be the catalyst for your business success. Make certain you’ve considered both options fully before pulling the trigger.