Executive Search: A Key to Successful Change in Leadership

By Dr. Scott Snyder, Director of Consulting

How does an organization grow through change? You may have heard the expression “water finds its level”. While originally derived in the world of chemistry, its truth expands to organizational development. If an organization cannot grow and thrive beyond its senior most leaders, the skills, experience, and abilities of these individuals become a top priority. Often a change in leadership is a crucial time to grow an organization and “raise the water level”. Using an executive search firm may feel nefarious as many wonder, “How can someone from the outside find the right fit for someone on the inside?”. At Samaritan Center, we take leadership change and successful growth seriously and believe it does not have to be as scary as it seems. We’ve answered some of the most common questions about the executive search process below and how it may lend to a thriving and growing organization during leadership transitions..

What is an Executive Search?

The retained Executive Search offered is a consulting engagement dedicated to locating a candidate with very specific qualifications, skills, abilities, and traits for this executive level position. Given the importance of the senior leadership of an organization, it is critical to hire the right person and manage the hiring process appropriately for the organization, employees, candidates, clients, and other stakeholders. The retained executive search service is intended to be very collaborative and supportive. We work closely and communicate regularly with your Search Committee and Board of Directors.

How many engagements does a team member typically work on at one time?

The committed consultant team has no more than two executive searches being conducted at the same time, and an effort is made to have them staggered in regard to start and end dates and no overlap of the interviewing phases.

How is your team structured, and who do you anticipate would be working on this engagement?

Each executive search has a dedicated experienced consultant, an operations manager and marketing specialist assigned. Additionally, we will utilize the expertise and knowledge of our partnering consultants and in-house psychologists as needed to best position the search for success.

What is the general methodology to obtain input on the organizations needs from the Board of Directors and other stakeholders?

First, we conduct initial meetings with the search committee to understand the position and its expectations, as well as to identify the stakeholders and board members to discuss things further. These meetings are one-on-one, and all comments are recorded, compiled and shared with the search committee to create a posting/job description that meets the criteria of the organization.

Once this posting is completed, in the spirit of transparency it is shared with the stakeholders who provided input as a means to continue their engagement and partnership with the organization and its future CEO.

What is your general methodology as to communication with internal & external candidates, staff generally and other stakeholders?

Communication with internal candidates is the same as communication with external candidates in the process. It is timely, with interactions occurring within 24 hours of a request, interview, question, etc., in order to keep moving forward in a timely manner, be transparent and keep talented candidates engaged.

Staff and stakeholder communications are usually directed by the search committee on a need-to-know basis in a confidential search. The communication can be prepared by our team and distributed by the search committee or the consultant, based on the mutual agreement of the parties.

What should be the top priorities in this process?

The top priority is to ensure the process garners the best candidate it to have everything in place prior to the posting of the position. All the steps involving the stakeholder feedback, job descriptions/expectation, hiring committee discussions, etc… Should be fully complete before the job is posted. Once the job is posted it is imperative to move in a timely manner as to not lose qualified talent secondary to delays or indecisiveness.

As your search team, it is our role to be the advocate and support to the hiring committee as well as being the liaison to the candidates in the most comprehensive and transparent manner. This process is outlined in the example of our CEO search booklet provided

What matters should the organization be considering in selecting a consultant for this project?

The organization should seek a consulting firm with a deep knowledge of the area the organization serves, as well as the region’s culture, values and economic climate. To that end, we almost exclusively engage in executive searches in Southcentral Pennsylvania, as we are familiar with and ingrained into the community, and we feel we have a unique knowledge and awareness of the needs of the community and businesses, in addition to many helpful local relationships including previous projects working with the non-profit organization leadership and teams.

The organization should also look for a firm that is an advocate for the client, as well as the candidate, so that the process is timely, transparent and fair. This ensures at the end of the day that the best qualified candidate is selected and transitioned successfully into the CEO role.

Finally, since stewardship is important, the organization can take comfort that the funds provided for the executive search go to support the mission of our parent organization, Samaritan Counseling Center, in building healthy minds and strong communities by subsidizing counseling fees for those with limited financial resources. The client receive expert consultants to successfully execute your project/search, the consultant is reward appropriately for their time and efforts, and through your support the mental health and wellness needs of the community continue to thrive successfully.

Our experienced consultants based in southcentral Pennsylvania handle the day-to-day tasks involved in an executive-level search from start to finish, helping you find just the right candidate to serve as a leader in your organization. Every step of the way, our team is there to make the process as simple and painless as possible. To get started, please contact Scott Snyder, Director of Consulting at ssnyder@scclanc.org

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