Recruiting a key executive, outlining client expectations, pushing him or her through new employee orientation, and then hoping for the best.

The results are usually mixed and mixed is not an outcome hospitals can afford in this challenging economic R&R environment – reform and reduction.

Hired Rubber StampGiven the cost of recruiting an executive – whether internally or through an executive search consultant – it is no longer a good idea to leave the outcome to chance and good luck.  In virtually every other area of healthcare, we look to best practices, but, unfortunately, not in recruitment.  The national statistics support that point: 40 percent of the executives and managers who join an organization are gone within 24 months.  If you want to put it in the context of return on investment, the only acceptable term for those metrics is that they stink.  It is the search industry’s dirty little secret.

So what is the best practice for executive search?  Here are five elements that I think should be included in a best-in-breed recruitment process.

  1. First, ask the “why” question.  Why are we conducting a search?  Is the executive team onboard with the proposed scope of responsibility and performance deliverables? The chances of failure increase by a factor of 10 when these issues are not addressed in advance.
  2. Develop a comprehensive Position Prospectus.   It is the recruiter’s responsibility to develop a comprehensive Position Prospectus, a detailed disclosure document for candidates that covers selection criteria, ideal characteristics, performance deliverables, hurdles to success and, most importantly, the organization’s cultural profile – their DNA of decision making, relationships, and values.  A discussion of where the land mines are buried should be included but rarely is. A 12-page summary – fairly typical for many search firms – that is long on generalities with puff on the community does not qualify as a best practice.
  3. Outline the search process – a description of the steps that each candidate must undertake – as well as the project timeline.  Candidates need to understand what they will confront and when the various decision points will be reached. When recruiters do not communicate on a regular basis, they are being disrespectful.
  4. Disclose the compensation package, base salary, benefits and other relevant information.  You would be shocked at how many times candidates are put through the search process without knowing what the job pays.   Recruiters who practice that approach are incompetent.  Beware. Candidates who allow that to happen are suspect. Beware.
  5. Develop a behavior and values profile of each candidate and for each person with whom the successful candidate will interact in a material way.   There are some personality profiles that will never work successfully together, regardless of how much you invest in coaching. This information is very useful in a 60-day post employment team-building session.  FYI, internal recruiters should request this support from their organizational development guru.  Outside recruiters should provide this as a value feature of their professional fee.