Managing an executive search project is a full-time job.  Most executives are not aware of the amount of dedicated time that is required to locate, court, and win over candidates. Generally speaking, Boards of Directors as an entity rarely have the requisite experience, detailed operational knowledge and more importantly the time, to commit 100% of their effort to recruiting a high level executive.

Search CommitteeThis is not an activity that can be undertaken “part time”.  It is simply too time intensive and critical to the businesses’ success.  Therefore, the first step a Board should take is to appoint a Search Committee to oversee the search.

Search Committee Selection criteria

When selecting a Search Committee, the Board should carefully weigh the answers to these four questions:

  1. Which outside Board members have been successful CEOs in their respective careers?
  2. Who is best positioned to invest the appropriate time into the process?
  3. Who is in the best position to evaluate and persuade candidates?
  4. Who has successfully conducted CEO or executive level searches in the recent past?  This is a key issue.  If no one has the experience, consider bringing someone in who has. 

[Success should have a heavy weighting toward exit and shareholder value and not just who got a bargain on entry compensation.]

Depending on the circumstances, the current CEO may or may not be a part of this committee.  It’s important to recognize both the public and private reasons behind the search, discuss the overall parameters of the strategy, and agree on the charter and deliverables of the Search Committee.

Roles and responsibilities

Who does what and when is critical to the outcome of your project. The “Charter” of the Search Committee is to:

  1. Establish the need;
  2. Create a critical path and/or time-line for the recruitment process;
  3. Select a search firm; [more on this later];
  4. Build Board consensus on strategy and agenda;
  5. Create a detailed competency based position profile;
  6. Ensure that the legal requirements for due diligence are met;
  7. Manage the candidate selection as well as the search process; and finally
  8. Land the best candidate.

Next, you must select a Search Committee Chairperson.