Help new executives avoid landmines…

Anne Hargrave
Anne Hargrave

When you start the process to hire an executive from the corporate world to work in your family business, be proactive in setting the stage for the person to be successful.  Explore cultural and job fit deeply, and reveal sacred cows early on.

Before starting the recruitment process, create a job description that clearly defines reality and highlights decision-making scope and areas of authority.  And, do the hard work of getting buy-in from all key family and non-family stakeholders.

Cultural fit is much more than a buzzword; it often exceeds the importance of skill level.  In order to use cultural fit as a screening mechanism, step back and have multiple people participate in a process to define the current culture, or the culture you desire, and then create a robust methodology for assessing cultural fit in candidates.

When you have found the right person, encourage them to stay within the scope of their area of responsibility and authority so they don’t loose focus and credibility.  Often people fail in their roles because they loose perspective on the nature of the relationship between the family and the business; setting the stage for accountability early on supports their ability to succeed. 

Any executive worth their salt is going to challenge the status quo – that’s what you want.  The sacred cows often found within a family businesses come as a surprise to a person from the corporate world.  By laying out the realities of projects or initiatives that are important to the family or the business, and are not up for discussion, there will be less chance of creating unnecessary waves.  Evaluating fit effectively and being transparent helps new executives avoid landmines.

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