How to select Executives and Directors by Anderson Willinger

In ten years, half of the working population will be employed in roles and positions that have not yet been invented today. Half of you who read this article will work differently and in a position you have no idea about today. Achieving results will require “framing” thinking, attitudes and habits, including how to select key people. That’s why Anderson Willinger, executive search, prepared for you a summarizing article.

Select people by experience or way of thinking?

Stanford University research shows that 75% of managers’ performance is generated by way of thinking, not experience. People naturally and thoughtlessly repeat the behaviour that has worked for them in their subjective evaluation in the past. If we accept the fact that 75% of the achieved result determines the way we think, the time comes when it is necessary to think differently about the recruitment and development of people. Therefore, in the selection of key employees, we recommend changing some procedures that have been established so far.

Change the position descriptions to a clear entry

The selection of management has been oriented for many years and in most cases, it is still oriented according to the title of the position and multi-page descriptions of work activities and expected experience. And that is not enough now and in the future. We waste money and time describing roles, competency models, instead of clearly defining the assignment for the specific manager we are looking for: “What do we need to address in the company and why?” “What should the manager deliver to us and when?” Are skills key to the expected outcome?”

Although old and common position names remain in companies despite the changes, each task, whatever its name, differs diametrically – the tasks to be achieved in the position. I will give an example.

The director of marketing and sales who comes to you from the competition would have suited you two years ago, but today, when everything in the world and business is changing, his actions, actions, people management may not meet the requirements of your company, let alone market needs. Although “the title of his position and the description of his activity, including the requirement for years of experience and expected experience” remain the same. So, is practice important? Yes, but the attitudes and values ​​of the candidate are just as important today in order to achieve the results you expect from him in that position.

If you are focusing on a clear definition of the assignment and the expected results when selecting a candidate for a key position, then no matter what the position is called, it should be important whether the candidate can meet what you expect.

Instead of experience, discover the characteristics of candidates

Key people are often sought on the recommendation of acquaintances. You call your friend to recommend “someone good at marketing”. He will give you contact, and you will contact the person in question. It should come as no surprise that the interview with the recommended person will not turn out as you imagined, even though someone you trusted praised him. The biography of this “candidate” states that he worked as a marketing director for your competition for 15 years, but during the interview you will find out that he does not know what you need from him now. Fifteen years of experience in marketing management does not mean that the person is able to manage marketing in your company at the present time and with the current assignment. For example, marketing five years ago did not address online strategies and their weekly evaluation, alternative distribution channels, employer branding, and no one at the time thought that it could become a revenue item in the company’s budget.

You will probably find very limited recruitment resources today and you will make a selection in the above range of experience among marketing managers and this trend will continue. Therefore, the key criterion for selection is to look for properties that do not have much in common with the named position. Count on recruitment that in the definition of the required profile, 40% is a set of skills that correspond to the assignment of his work tasks and activities, 30% are the values ​​and attitudes of the manager – how they fit into the corporate culture and philosophy of the company – and 30% include positive the motivation of the manager for the role, including his positive approach to life.

Don’t look in the industry or with the competition

Start looking for your managers in places and positions where you find qualities that would apply and develop in your country. Look at other fields and industries. Don’t look blind to the competition. Example: you are looking for a general manager of a publishing house, with full responsibility for the efficiency and return on business of the company (P&L, Profit and Loss Statement). According to the description of the position, the profile of the candidate clearly corresponds to one of the competing publishers. But you went through the whole competition market and found that all managers are actually the same, they look like eggs. They have the same views, they run the business more or less the same.

But you have the task of starting a new company – the so-called start-up. The business model in this case is not what most companies in the industry have. Therefore, a search focused solely on the publishing market may not be correct. Look for industries that have recently been dealing with similar tasks to yours, albeit in the context of another field. In this particular case, you need to find someone who:

■ He has a way of thinking about Entrepreneurship – that is, the ability to “start” new things (as a young, for example, he led a company).

■ He is able to perceive numbers, calculate the result and return on investment.

■ It requires consistency and a goal from its people.

A very good example is the project in which the top position of the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of a major Czech bank was successfully filled. We were given the task of finding an extraordinary personality with a perfect knowledge of the Czech and international banking environment, with several years of experience. We searched for a person who meets at least three so-called “key selection” criteria:

■ Experience and contacts for gaining investors in the form of new owners.

■ Understanding the new business model in the field of banking services and their development.

■ The ability to implement change quickly and deliver results.

Based on the precise assignment of the main task for the selected personality, we had to choose a person who excelled in the 15 above-mentioned qualities: responsibility, discipline, consistency, and faith in achieving the impossible and, of course, showed great resistance to stress. The candidate we selected passed, fulfilled the key assignment and is working on the restructuring of the entire company. Under his leadership, the new brand is successfully establishing itself on the Czech market.

If we did not know the exact assignment from the client, we would not be able to correctly determine either the key criteria for selecting the candidate or the characteristics of the candidate. That’s why the assignment is key – to know what we want from him. Also important was the client’s task to create a new company culture. Culture was to cease to be traditionally banking and to be closer to the atmosphere and dynamics in which start-ups arise and grow. The maturity of the candidate’s personality was also crucial. An immature personality is in danger of burning out very quickly (so-called burnout).

More than fifteen years of experience of Anderson Willinger in the field of executive search has led us to research and develop our own assessment. As the environment in which we live and work changes fundamentally due to the digitalisation of the economy and business, the demands on managerial work change significantly. That’s why we come up with another tool called 100 Days – Integration Management, where during the first hundred days we “accompany” the manager, who we place in a new company or in a new position and provide him with know-how. This allows to establish himself/herself in the company faster and successfully fulfil the expected results.


Read more: How to prepare for managing a new team? Many managers repeat the same mistake

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