Recently, I have observed several credit unions make hiring mistakes for key executives, including CEOs. The disruption these “hasty hires” cause is palatable. In one situation, a CEO who lacked the strategic mindset the credit union needed was hired. In another, there was a significant skill gap; they hired a “finance person” when they needed a visionary leader. In yet another, the executive was not a cultural fit, alienating many valuable performers.
The pressure to fill key executive positions quickly is a common challenge for organizations navigating growth, change, or crisis. The urgency is understandable, given executives’ pivotal role in shaping a company’s direction and success. However, haste in decision-making can lead to several critical mistakes. Hiring managers and Board Selection Committees often face pressure to make quick decisions driven by the traditional approach of a thorough executive search and a rapid hiring decision. In this quest for fast solutions, the credit union often overlooks a strategic alternative: fractional executives. Let’s explore the drawbacks of rushing executive hires and the benefits of buying time with fractional executives.
The Drawbacks of a Hasty Hiring Decision
Four things are often overlooked when making a hiring decision:
- Cultural Misalignment: Rushing through the executive hiring process may result in overlooking the crucial aspect of cultural fit. Executives play a pivotal role in shaping an organization’s culture and values. A hastily chosen candidate may not align with the existing culture, leading to potential conflicts and disruptions in the workplace and affecting team dynamics and overall performance.
- Skills Mismatch: Executive roles demand a specific skill set beyond the technical expertise listed on a resume. Hasty decisions might overlook the nuanced abilities required for effective leadership within a particular company. A more thoughtful approach allows a thorough assessment of the candidate’s ability to navigate the organization’s unique challenges.
- Strategic Impact: An executive hire is a strategic investment in the long-term success of a business. This comprehensive evaluation of an executive’s skills, experience, and leadership style takes time. Rushed decisions may result in turnover, which will be disruptive to the staff and financially and operationally detrimental. The costs associated with onboarding, training, and replacing an executive can far exceed the initial benefits of a quick hire. Rushed decisions often overlook crucial aspects impacting the executive’s ability to drive positive organizational change.
- Limited Candidate Pool: A quick hiring process might limit the pool of qualified candidates considered for the role. The most suitable candidate for a leadership position may not be available immediately, and overlooking potential candidates can hinder long-term success.
There is an Alternative.
Companies increasingly turn to fractional executives to mitigate the risks of rapid executive hires. Fractional executives are experienced professionals who offer their expertise without a long-term commitment. A fractional alternative provides the credit union with several advantages:
- Immediate Impact: Fractional executives bring a wealth of experience, allowing organizations to benefit from their expertise almost immediately. This can be especially beneficial during transitional periods or when urgent strategic decisions must be made.
- Strategic Expertise: Fractional executives have “been there and done that.” As a result, they bring specialized skills and experience to address specific challenges. Companies can tap into their expertise for strategic initiatives, filling gaps without immediately committing to the expense and risk of a full-time hire.
- Cost Efficiency: Engaging a fractional executive is often more cost-effective than hiring a full-time executive. Companies can access high-level talent without the long-term financial commitment, making it a prudent choice for those who need specific expertise for a defined period. Fractional executives offer flexibility regarding engagement duration and workload. This flexibility allows organizations to adapt to changing needs without the financial burden of a full-time executive salary and benefits.
- Time for Informed Decisions: Companies buy time to evaluate their long-term executive needs by opting for a fractional executive. This period can be used to identify the required skills and attributes, ensuring a more strategic and informed hiring decision.
- Flexibility and Adaptability: Fractional executives provide flexibility in changing business environments. Whether it’s a sudden market shift or internal restructuring, companies can adapt quickly by scaling up or down with fractional leadership.
- Cultural Integration: Working with a fractional executive allows one to assess cultural fit and performance on a smaller scale before considering a full-time commitment. This ensures a more informed decision when hiring for a permanent role.
- Objective Evaluation: Fractional executives often provide an objective perspective, unburdened by internal politics. This objectivity can be valuable in assessing organizational challenges and implementing effective solutions.
In executive leadership, a measured and strategic approach often yields more sustainable and successful outcomes in the long run. A fractional executive offers an alternative, providing companies with the expertise needed without the immediate commitment. By embracing this approach, the credit union can put a succession plan in place to ultimately hire a “permanent” leader that aligns with their long-term goals, purpose, and values. Balancing urgency with strategic thinking is vital to building a resilient and effective leadership team.