Raising the Bar - Hiring "Impact Players" By Bill & Chris Sitter
Article Date: 07-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Factors to consider when hiring superstar managers.
Many dealer executives will recall the Chrysler turnaround led by CEO Lee Iacocca. This U.S. automaker was in terrible financial condition and had a reputation for questionable quality. An aggressive and very expensive recruiting effort resulted in a history-making turnaround. Of course, the new CEO's accomplishments were the result of an amazing team effort. However, the genuine impact player was Mr. Iacocca.We have all witnessed incredible turnarounds in athletics - just look at the Boston Celtics now versus the prior year. One has to credit their executive management and coaching staff when evaluating a team that went from one of basketball's worst records, in 2007, to the best record in the NBA for 2008. You might be thinking: "Fine, but what's this have to do with an AED distributor?" We're glad you "asked."For nearly 30 years, our executive search firm has had the joy of witnessing amazing turnarounds, led by true impact players, at dealerships and equipment manufacturers in North America. Let's examine three scenarios:
All progressive companies would love to have a stable full of genuine difference makers, assuming their personalities and ethics are compatible. (That's a big "if" but not a topic for this article.) In the short space available, let's examine a few factors to consider when recruiting positive-change agents:
A new service manager aggressively tackles a host of challenges, such as: poor morale, unfavorable customer service ratings, large work in process (WIP) statistics and lousy profit numbers. He carefully builds a core team of doers, works tirelessly at establishing customer relationships, digs into daily workflow issues, enhances interdepartmental communications and ultimately leads the service team to excellence.
A sales manager displays the courage and vision to attract a new breed of aggressive sales reps with modern skills. Results are monitored and corrective action (training and development) plans are used to help close many more profitable deals. And a career path is provided to move capable salespeople into regional, area or even division sales leadership roles.
A dealer president steps up to share her vision for growth and is not afraid to consistently recruit people who may have superior talent coupled with cutting edge skill sets.
There is much more to consider when one prepares to hire an industry superstar. We could spend a lot of time just on: the importance of every new leader's ability to build and foster a strong team-based organization, issues of character and ethics, and the ability of this leader (and his/her family) to "fit" into the company and to be happy living in the area. So, the bottom line is that you have a lot to consider when setting out to recruit an industry superstar. Take your time, involve those you trust, consider your vision, goals and succession planning - and count the cost versus expected results.
Position specifications must include all desired skills and verifiable experience and accomplishments. Do not just use the old job description from your files that was used to hire for this role 10 or 20 years ago. If you really want change then spell it out in your new position spec. Make your hiring target clear and then aim for the bull's-eye.
Succession considerations - if you're building bench strength for your dealership, then interview for the immediate job opening while considering if he/she is promotable, and probe to determine if the candidate's career goals are in line with your plans.
Explain challenges this potential leader will face and ask them to provide appropriate action plans to solve problems. A written response, within a week of your interview, may prove very insightful.
Compensation could be a serious issue. If you develop a spec for a Lexus, don't fool yourself into expecting to pay the price of a KIA. Let us hasten to add that we're not proposing a "no holds-barred talent bidding war." Be realistic in assessing a compensation package in relation to the position spec's requirements and your expectations. Establish a salary range, with considerable variance based on experience and candidate ratings. Consider creative incentives, both short and longer term, tied to this person's objectives and the company's goals. For senior level hires, various forms of equity or phantom stock plans may be appropriate, and this just may be the final piece that helps you complete the hire.
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