BSG From the Boardroom

A curated selection of executive opportunities, industry highlights, and unique insights in executive search.

    How to Hire Successfully for a Newly Created Role in Growing Companies


    One of the most difficult executive hires to make is one that’s never been made before. Sounds a bit like a riddle, but it’s self-evident if you think about it.  When a company grows, several things happen:

    • The first hire—your Jack-of-all-trades—was considered an asset at earlier stages of company growth. A key employee who could wear many hats was integral to success. The head of sales may also oversee marketing as well as business development.  In software businesses, on the engineering side, the Chief Technology Officer might also be responsible for architecture, coding and Q&A.  And not just managing it, but DOING all of it.  A CEO might be responsible for strategy, finance, and operations.
    • This original team that helped the company achieve lift-off, is often not the same team that will carry the company to its next value inflection point. Because, as the company grows, positions get narrower and deeper in focus, scope and responsibility.  The sales/marketing/business development executive now may have a team of 10 to 30, all focused in sales. The CEO who had finance and operations plus strategy doesn’t have enough hours in the day to run all 3 of those functions directly past the initial stages of growth. 

    The outcome? Current executives pick one of the responsibilities and then work to develop that deep function and specific expertise, hire a team beneath them, and build out best practices and scalable processes on which the company will depend to grow and prosper. Doing so naturally requires shedding other responsibilities, therefore a new position is “born.”

    Below are TEN best practices in how to frame a new position—key questions to ask, critical steps to take and essential parties to involve  to maximize the probability of hiring success:

    • Map out how the work is getting done now.

      1. Questions to ask, using the revenue/customer/sales-facing function as example:
        1. Is it being done by one person now, or is the responsibility shared over several people.
        2. If one person responsible for this function and its deliverables, pie chart this person’s total time spent in the various multi-functional areas
    • Determine whether that individual who is going to give up the responsibility truly wants to give it up. If not, a dialogue needs to be had around what the current person wants to claim ownership for.

    • Do you want to hire beside, over, or under the person who currently holds this responsibility?

      1. For the revenue-facing function, do you want to split out sales and marketing, and have the incumbent narrow his or her focus just on sales. This might include inside sales, outside direct sales, and channel sales responsibilities. The birth of a new position would then become a head of marketing who can take on all the company branding, marcom & PR responsibilities.  Perhaps the new head of marketing can also take on website, and demand/lead generation, including pull marketing, drip marketing, and top of sales funnel.  And finally, does the new head of marketing become a peer to the head of sales, a subordinate reporting into the head of sales & marketing, or perhaps hiring an executive over the head of sales, who becomes a Chief Commercial Officer, or Chief Revenue Officer with sales, marketing, and any other related revenue functions reporting into this newly created role. 

      2. For the finance function as another example, do you want to hire a CFO in over top of a current controller, or instead promote the controller to VP Finance and hire a bookkeeper underneath to manage the day-to-day accounting.
    • What “net new” responsibilities never before held in the company are smart to add to this new role?

      1. If a sales leadership role, perhaps sales had only been domestic, and the new role should expand into global customer acquisition
      2. Or, perhaps the company had only sold direct, and the new head of sales will be responsible for building up parallel indirect revenue sources via channel partners, distributors, rep networks, value-added resellers etc.
    • Is the company really “ready” for this addition?

      1. Often companies hire out “ahead of demand,” or ahead of the growth curve, in anticipation of growth. If the company is more than 2 quarters away from truly needing the role, it may be wise to slow roll the new hire process until greater clarity on deliverables and certainty the market, customers and the company are ready to embrace the new role and its value.
    • Select and assemble the key stakeholders In the success of the new position

      1. Make sure you gather all those who are key to the success in this new role. If a sales role, that might include marketing, operations, customer success, finance and product management functions.  All those who would be in a 360 degree circle around the new position.
    • Build out a position scorecard, outlining the first 12 month deliverables

      1. There should be no fewer than 5 deliverables, and no more than a dozen.
      2. These deliverables, or “outcomes” as they are often called, should be very quantitative. Qualitative or amorphous outcomes often lead to failure in the newly hired executive because the company, and the peers of the new hire weren’t clear on the position’s goals.  And role confusion occurs.
      3. Make sure all key stakeholders have contributed to, reviewed, and agreed on the final position scorecard
    • Take your time, and interview more than fewer candidates

      1. Our experience is that for any creation position being “birthed,” the company and key stakeholders in the role will learn a lot from the first several candidates they interview. Don’t rush it.  And rarely would you want to hire the first one or two candidates brought in.
    • Review the scorecard after the first few candidate interviews, and

      1. Add any outcomes discovered across those conversations with early candidates
      2. clarify, or
      3. deprioritize/delete
      4. RANK the scorecard outcomes two ways,
        1. from most important to least important
        2. and as either “must have/must do” or “nice to have/nice to do” ‘s
    • Build out a set of supporting competencies candidates need to possess to stand a strong chance of achieving the first 12-month outcomes on the scorecard. These competencies are likely to include skills, experience, company stage-related expertise, customer knowledge, and/or industry experience.

    Looking for help navigating filling a new position? BSG helps growing companies find the perfect executive for their needs across industries and specializations. To learn more, contact us or enroll to receive our expertise on hiring for a brand new role.

    I'm Hiring For A Brand New Role

    -by Clark Waterfall on May 4, 2017 2:06:46 PM


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