Case Studies

Re-Envisioning a Senior Executive Role

Posted by Mitch Corlett on June 10, 2015

The Situation

Our client is a high profile nonprofit organization. After the departure of a long-term senior programs executive, the organization intentionally left the position vacant, in the hopes that one of the position's direct reports would take the initiative and step up into more of a leadership role.  For a time, this approach appeared to be working. Most of the leader's key tasks were absorbed by various staff members. But without a strong leader in place, the organization eventually lost their unified strategic direction, results drifted, and program growth stalled.

Because the position was unique, and because a veteran executive had held the position for so long, there was no obvious path toward finding a successor. Our client lacked perspective on their options — they were not sure what title to give the position, who might be interested, what salary would be required to attract the right person, or even how to determine if potential candidates were qualified. There was no basis for easy comparison.

Prior to engaging us, the organization advertised the open position, but as the resumes arrived, the hiring manager had no way of knowing whether the respondents were the best people available.

Our client invited us to provide some perspective.

Our Analysis

Initially, we focused on helping the client determine their goals for the position, the metrics to measure success, and the competencies and work experience that might prepare a candidate for success in the role. There were a series of interlocking issues to be resolved:

  • At what level in the organization the positions should report
  • How to best restructure the department to provide the necessary strategic support while retaining their key players and respecting their deep institutional knowledge
  • What parts of the department should report to the new leader
  • How the new leader's management responsibilities might limit the amount of time that could be spent out in the field vs. in the office

As with many of our searches, ultimately, we needed to take a holistic view of the entire department's salary budget, determining how much of the department budget should be allocated toward the executive role. We helped our client to understand their options and determine where their limited salary budget could be spent most effectively.  Ultimately, Staffing Advisors identified four different career trajectories that might prepare someone for this role.

The Result Of Our Work

Staffing Advisors evaluated over 500 candidates in the four identified profiles, interviewed more than 40 people and ultimately presented 8 finalists for consideration. We developed a comprehensive vetting process which helped our client make valid comparisons between people from very different backgrounds. Ultimately, our client made an excellent selection, with full knowledge of their options in the market, and with every effort taken to minimize their hiring risk.

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