Insights

Why Context Matters when Hiring Executive Talent

Posted by Reed Flesher

The context of an executive hiring decision may be the most important thing about it. Each executive recruitment decision is different and should not be treated as a one-size-fits-all process.

Context includes the size of the organization, its current position in the market, its goals, and the unique set of challenges it faces at the time of hiring. Context can also include the competition, trends and movements in the marketplace, and the overall economic outlook in the areas where business is done.

The Relevance of Context

The strengths and weaknesses of executive-level candidates and their particular personality traits impact their fitness for a particular position in your organization at a particular time. In a time of economic downturn, a leader with experience in adversity who can rebuild and inspire staff is a better fit than someone whose experience has been during times of abundance, for example.

Executive talent will be the leaders of your organization going forward, so they need to be able to set the tone for department heads, managers, and entry-level staff. While the level of influence exerted by the executive team may vary from organization to organization, there is no denying that those in leadership do influence those working underneath them. Contextual understanding is part of that influence.

Location and makeup of the workforce is another aspect of context relevant to executive positions. An executive whose strength is in face-to-face contact will have difficulty relating to a widely dispersed workforce and teams that do not meet in the same geographic location. Methods of dealing with conflict, conducting training, and evaluating performance are all context-dependent and must be considered in an executive search.

An executive may have good leadership qualities and experience, but those traits will play out much differently in a context involving high uncertainty and ambiguity than they would in a more established or stable context. Everything from the way new strategies are implemented to the messages leadership sends to the organization can be impacted by the stability and ambiguity of a situation.

In one context, taking risks may be looked at as a necessary part of doing business, while in another, it may be seen as dangerous and unnecessary. While executives may be versatile in their approach and, to a certain degree, be able to adapt to changing circumstances, executive search teams cannot necessarily count on adaptability and are better off making specific context-dependent needs a part of their search criteria than leaving those aspects up to chance.

Matching Executive Talent to Goals

Knowing your organization’s specific goals can help executive search teams pinpoint the context into which an executive will step when they take on a leadership role. The more closely executive talent can be matched to specific organizational goals, the more successful the executive is likely to be in the role.

Executive recruitment comes with a laundry list of challenges and opportunities. Hiring with a view to contextual relevance is a best practice for executive recruitment and requires forethought, planning, and the right talent management tools to get the job done. Contact us for more information about Thrive TRM’s talent management solutions and how it can help with executive searches.

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