Eventually, every company will need to bring on a new executive or find a replacement for a key employee. When that happens, gathering the right executive selection committee can be key to finding a leader who fits your company’s vision and culture. Knowing who should be on your executive selection committee can be difficult, but the benefits are innumerable when it comes to the future success of your company.
What is an Executive Selection Committee?
An “executive selection committee,” sometimes also called a “search committee” are a group of key employees, board members, or owners committed to your business, who you empower to make recommendations to hire a new executive. Search committees are most often used in the non-profit sector in recruiting and selecting executive directors. However, they are also useful to business owners seeking to develop a more robust executive suite in anticipation for growth or beginning the succession planning process.
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The Search Committee’s Role in Finding New Executives
Business owners have the luxury of defining their search committees’ roles and responsibilities in finding new executives. For some, the search committee acts much like a Human Resources department, in others, they can take on a far more robust roll. Your executive selection committee could be responsible for:
- Establishing the timetable for new hires
- Identifying core competencies and preferred qualifications for new executives
- Talking to existing employees about their priorities for any new supervisor or superior
- Addressing “soft skills” such as communication styles and emotional intelligence
- Outlining objective criteria including education and certification requirements
- Preparing a job description and position announcement
- Addressing any diversity and inclusion goals your company may have
- Recommending compensation and benefits packages for potential candidates
- Recruiting qualified candidates
- Distributing information to potential candidates
- Interviewing potential candidates using unbiased questions that comply with local and federal employment law
- Evaluating qualified candidates to select the best fit for the company’s vision and culture
- Recommending a final candidate to the owners and/or board of directors
- Notifying any internal candidates not selected
- Introducing new candidates to key stakeholders, employees, and business partners
- Mentoring in-coming executives as they step into new roles
It is wise to clearly discuss the search committee’s role as you recruit its members, so that they know the time and energy they will be expected to put forward, as well as whether their existing responsibilities will be offset as they undergo the substantial, and often time-consuming process of recruiting a new member of the executive suite.
Roll Call: Who Should Be on Your Executive Selection Committee?
Given the wide range of tasks your executive selection committee is responsible for, you will want a variety of personalities and skills at the table. However, you don’t want the search committee to get too big. Ideally you should have 5-7 members including HR professionals, technical experts, and financial analysts. This ensures everyone can participate without overwhelming any one person. It also makes it easier to reach consensus. Your executive selection committee may also reach out to additional staff and experts (like your business lawyer or accountant) to fill any gaps in expertise as they work through their responsibilities.
Who Should Not be at the Table
It is also important to think about who not to include in the search committee. Putting an outgoing employee in charge of finding their own replacement can make the process difficult, as can asking employees to hire their own boss. Similarly, anyone considering applying for the position should be excluded. It may also be wise to exclude any board members or owners who will be part of the final vote, so that their voice is not emphasized more than is appropriate in the selection process.
Finding the Right Facilitator for Your Search Committee
While most of the members of your search committee will come from within the business, or at least your advisory board, there is one member who may need to be hired specifically for the purpose. Retaining a professional facilitator to guide your executive selection committee through the process can ensure that timelines are met and prevent matters from becoming too personal. By committing the time and budget to hiring a professional facilitator, you can single to the executive selection committee that their work is important, and give them the structure they need to complete their task promptly and thoughtfully.