Some data regarding executive recruiting failures doesn’t add up.
Executive search is an excruciatingly diligent process. This is not looking for a plumber on Angie’s List. Executives get paid a lot more, they have more responsibility, and there is a pronounced relationship between their competence and the company’s bottom line.
So an executive recruiter, such as Cornerstone International Group, has a lot riding on its work, its discovery, evaluation and recommendation.
Despite this, there is a failure rate in the business that gets scarier and scarier. A few years ago, Forbes established that many as 40% of new managerial hires were gone at 18 months. More recent studies have pushed that to 60%.
Those are staggering failure rates that contradict processes used in selection. Which would imply, perhaps, that a dangerous generalization is being thrown around. I have never seen an attempt to identify and associate the hiring process with the failure rate.
Contingency search, and conceivably some in-house search, are not by design as sophisticated as retained search. Judging by random performance reporting of our members, new executive hires in place at 18 months is likely to be at least 90%.
That said, there are definitely issues that a company needs to at least be aware of and is possibly able to manage when hiring a key player. And it is this. An HBR article two years ago quoted a 10-year longitudinal study that found 61% of executives said they were not prepared for the strategic challenges they faced when given senior leadership roles.
In other words there are quite possibly many situations where, despite a broad competence and suitability, a new executive just does not have the depth of experience for specific hurdles. It’s a situation that exceeds the limits of the recruiting safety net
The strong performance of Cornerstone International Group members can be attributed in part to our structure and outlook. We are a network of individually owned firms, most with long standing in a regional market, and we share best practices and principles. One is to get to know the client as thoroughly as the candidate to ensure fit.
That’s the first line of defence, but today’s specialist recruiter needs another. Increasingly, we are seeing the emergence of the hybrid recruiter-coach with the joint capability of finding the best person and then helping her or him to master the challenges of the specific role once in place.
We are in the early stages of this journey by doing things a little differently. Many of our members have highly qualified coaches backing up the recruiting offer. But we have also assembled a powerful global network – one of the largest – of highly qualified, certified independent coaches with the flexibility and range of services to meet any individual leadership challenge, either supporting a hire or stand-alone.
We will be tracking performance data relating to recruiting support and leadership capabilities growth. I look forward to sharing it here.