February 2019 | Riviera Partners
High-impact executive searches almost always take place in times of transition. From fledgling startups, those struggling with their rapid rate of scale, to established Fortune 500s experiencing digital transformations, companies look for highly-specialized individuals who can take them to the next level.
Determining the right candidate profile while your company is transitioning can be daunting. You are often in uncharted territory with requirements and qualifications in flux. With so much at stake, how do you set your search up for success?
Identifying Competency Stage by Stage
Businesses in transition are typically on the spectrum of build, scale and/or change. Most companies have one foot firmly planted in one stage with elements of the others needing to be addressed. The requirements of each stage are unique and it is extremely rare to find talent that performs well across all three.
Your ideal candidate should have competency in your current stage and the capabilities to take you far into the next. By clearly defining where you are and where you want to be in the near future, you can focus on the qualifications most critical to your organization’s success. Let’s take a closer look at the unique characteristics of the three most transitional stages, and the talent traits necessary to succeed in each.
Build: Zero to One
Company Characteristics: Building is a priority with startups, but it is common across all stages. The #1 priority here is finding market fit…as quickly as possible. With small, scrappy teams and little support, the founders’ knowledge and vision are critical. Small teams come with limitations, particularly around recruiting, development and operations.
Talent Traits: Build talent has technical prowess, but are versatile enough to operate with limited resources. This person should be a talent magnet, attracting the best people as your business continues to grow. Also, they need to be passionate about your company’s mission as they will help define your culture.
Scale: Bringing Order To Chaos
Company Characteristics: To scale, an organization has found market fit and is building market credibility. Often times, their product offering is gaining momentum, and building towards critical mass. Internally, there is a supporting cast in place; they have identified blind spots and are moving from organic to more structured processes.
Talent Traits: The ability to work cross-functionally is important here. You are looking for a great communicator, a chameleon comfortable switching between technical, business, and people skills. Credibility is also a factor as well. This stage requires someone who has seen scale, understands the importance of operations, process, and possesses deep functional expertise.
Change: Digital Transformation
Company Characteristics: Companies in this phase are typically well established but in need of transformation. They are making significant changes to deal with new competition and other market factors. These organizations have operational processes and technology in place, but they may be outdated and need to addressed.
Talent Traits: Leadership is paramount with companies going through change. They must be politically savvy with the ability to influence up and down, and to both internal and external audiences. They also must be experienced in making the difficult decisions necessary to reorganize and fix dysfunction.
It is important to note that transitions are rarely linear. They exist on a spectrum. If your company is changing, chances are you are continuing to build. And, going through major change will most likely include elements build and scale. Only by establishing which stage characteristics are most important to your organization will you have a clear understanding of the talent traits needed to get you to the next level.
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