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Finding the Right Executive to Match Your Business Needs Part 2 – Begin with the Executive Blueprint for What You Need

A blueprint and proper planning are critical for any building project. These preconstruction prerequisites determine all of the resources needed to move forward with the project. The same is true for Executive hiring, begin with an Executive Blueprint that meets the needs of your organization.

Finding the right executive to lead critical organizational initiatives, whether an internal employee or an interim resource, is no different an executive blueprint is needed. As we saw in the case of Javier, who came in as an interim general manager after three failed attempts to fill the role, it all starts and ends with a clear understanding of what is needed.

Kristen McAlister was speaking with a new client who was somewhat annoyed that she wanted to speak further about the position that was being filled, work on an Executive Blueprint, even after the client had sent over the job description. The organization was a technology-centered software company that had experienced incredible growth over the previous year. Leadership was having a difficult time finding the right CFO and was speaking to Cerius about sourcing an interim CFO while leadership figured out what to do next.

After about fifteen minutes of probing, Kristen learned the company was looking at transitioning its accounting system within the next year. It had also seen a great deal of turnover in the accounting department, so most employees had been there for less than two years. It was April, and the company had filed an extension on taxes because the team led by the controller had not closed out the prior year’s books yet.

None of this information was on the submitted job description—but it was critical information that would drive the immediate activities and skills required of any candidate we sent in.

Meanwhile, every single bullet point on the client’s (generic) CFO job description was a task or responsibility that any reasonably competent CFO could perform.

Nowhere did the job description mention the organization’s current state nor granular plans for the upcoming year. Instead, the company’s focus on static, unchanging, day-to-day CFO job duties was obscured the dynamic challenges that a new CFO would face right out of the gate.

Hiring is a forward-facing activity, not backward-facing. Job descriptions tend to be like the kitchen junk drawer they accumulate all the activities, gaps, tasks, and responsibilities that currently don’t have a home in an organization, or that need a responsible owner.

A CFO job description that lists items such as the following is the equivalent of saying you want to buy a car that has an engine.

  • Must be able to read financial reports
  • Great leadership skills
  • Participates in shaping company strategy

Think about why you have each item on the job description; state the requirement in terms of actionable results. For example:

  • Financial reports: Other than reading, does the executive need to have experience creating the reports?Establishing the KPIs? Identifying the gaps and areas for improvement? Analyzing for margin improvement? The more specific, the better.
  • Leadership: Be specific. Must have managed a team of at least ten and been responsible for HR and IT? Must have established assessment and training programs?Must have created succession planning for the organization? Why does your company need “great leadership skills,” and what exactly do those look like in your specific company?
  • Strategy: This is the wild card that every CEO wants in an executive team. The hidden danger is hiring someone who is great with strategy but not so much with execution. What part of strategic planning and implementation is most important to your company?

Finding the Right Executive

At Cerius, we have been vetting executives for over ten years to reduce the risk of companies bringing in the wrong executive. If you decide to engage an interim executive on your own, we have put together and will share some of our best practices to help minimize your risk when searching for the right executive expertise, whether it is on a part-time, temporary, interim, or project basis.

Through a deep resource pool of thousands of vetted executives, we offer full interim staffing services across all management disciplines. From our network, we develop a customized interim executive solution tailored to your needs. You gain immediate access to a carefully selected skill set with the additional leverage to reach into the larger pool of Cerius executives as needed — all to secure new growth strategies, carry out organizational or cultural change, manage complex projects, or fill business-critical vacancies.

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