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What happens when whole executive teams need to be built or replaced? Charlie Grubb, Managing Director at Robert Half’s Executive Search practice, shares his advice on recruiting groups of new leaders – especially when boards are under pressure to find the right people quickly.
When the pandemic and record-breaking inflation struck, the intensity of commercial change left many executive leaders running on empty. For those used to dealing with more benign trading conditions, the level of disruption tested their skills well beyond their experience. Since then, many have steadied their businesses and got them back on track. But others have chosen to move on, leaving executive-shaped holes in leadership teams, which need to be replaced.
In these situations, boards are often under pressure to respond, and recruit quickly. But they also have a chance to pause and reflect before moving forward. It’s an opportunity for them to think about the skills they have lost, but also the ones they need now. Done right, multiple c-suite hires can positively influence their future, especially when a business is changing direction and developing new opportunities.
Changing people, changing course
- Look inside the business for up-and-coming leaders who could take on interim executive leadership roles to gain experience before becoming permanent. This will give them a chance to prove themselves and appreciate how they work together and make decisions. It will also create an opportunity for boards to pause, and assess the skills they need, before installing a new leadership regime permanently.
- Look outside the business for interim leadership experience, and a partner to help build a leadership team for the long term. Again, interim candidates will allow time to consider the options before moving forward. An external recruitment partner will bring additional insight to the process, helping consider the direction of the business, the industry, and the skills needed to thrive now.
- Consider recruiting from different industries. The knowledge and experience gained in one sector could be applied to the challenges of another. This is especially important for businesses going through operational transformation. Executives with experience of restructuring and change, for example, will be able to apply their experience from elsewhere; those adept at digital development can do the same. Executive leaders from other industries will also bring a fresh perspective, new skills and even potential collaboration opportunities.
Strength in numbers
Boards are often under pressure to build new teams or replace people quickly. But a combination of interim hires and reflection can help them put the right long-term solution in place. The disruption of losing people or building new executive teams might be painful, but it can also be the genesis of new talent. Multiple c-suite hires are part of the solution at any time, but especially in the fast-changing market conditions of today.