Kickoff Meetings Keep Everyone On Task
To parcel out all the pieces of your executive hiring project, it helps to host a recruitment kickoff meeting with everyone involved — the hiring manager, search chair, search committee, and staff. This meeting will help you to align your people, processes, and project from the very start.
If people join in by teleconference, mute their line so they can’t speak and you don’t hear what may be going on in the background.
Kickoff Meeting Actions
Start the kickoff meeting by introducing yourself and layout the kickoff meeting’s agenda. Then stick to it. This will allow for a productive and professional kickoff meeting for everyone involved, even if they’ve never had one before.
Discuss the following topics, in order:
- Executive summary (3 minutes): The executive summary is a high-level overview of the problem faced by the client, the proposed solution to the problem, and the plan for implementing that solution. Essentially, it answers these three questions:
- Why are we recruiting this executive?
- What’s the desired end result?
- How does this executive contribute to meeting the organization’s business plan?
- The goal of the search (2 minutes): During this part of the kickoff meeting, offer a detailed description of the goal of the search. This will help to manage everyone’s expectations for the project.
- The project’s scope and deliverables (5 minutes): This is where you discuss exactly what the project covers, and how what is covered will be delivered. This is important because a big part of a successful kickoff meeting is managing client expectations (and the expectations of everyone else involved).
- Project members and their roles (5 minutes): Who’s doing what? That’s what you talk about here. Lay out each part of the process, the person in charge, and her goals. If the project work involves collaboration, you should also mention what will be needed from the client for each part of the process.
If you, the recruiter, are part of a team, have each person on that team participate in the kickoff meeting. That way, everyone will gain a complete understanding of the client’s expectations. Plus, if the client has any questions, having each member of your team present will increase your chances of providing the answers you seek.
- Key performance metrics and success factors (3 minutes): How will you assess the various people involved in the project? The recruitment staff, the hiring manager, search committee, and search chair. Be as specific as possible here, drawing from any meetings you’ve already had with the hiring manager and what’s detailed in the service-level agreement (SLA).
- Communication plans (5 minutes): When time is of the essence, as it is in an executive search, communication is key. During this part of the meeting, share your communication plans — including why communication is important and who will be leading communication efforts.
Make certain your kickoff meeting closes by setting expectations around all the meetings that will be conducted throughout the project life cycle, including:
- Weekly status meetings
- Project plan status updates with search chair
- Search committee updates
- Task and activity planning sessions
Mention what collaboration and communication tools will be used and how the participants can receive training on them if need be.
Finally, explain the timeline for receiving feedback from the client, as outlined in the SLA. While you’re at it, explain why this feedback is so important — first and foremost because you need it so you can provide updates to candidates in a timely manner.
At the start of the meeting, inform everyone that you’ve allotted time for questions at the end. Ask that they hold all questions until that time — and stick to that. Also, let them know how to reach you if they have further questions after the call or later down the line.
To be mindful of everyone’s time, limit the kickoff meeting to no more than 30 minutes.
This is your meeting. You should be the only one speaking until the very end, when you take questions. You need to show people that you’re in charge from the get-go and that you mean to run this project with tight reins.