Tag: hire

When to Hire an Executive Search Firm & How to Find the Best

We see it play out every day: show us a promising startup that’s floundering, and we’ll show you an executive team that was built haphazardly or based on short-term thinking.

Building dynamic executive teams is the key to success — an insight that holds doubly true for companies in high-growth mode. Inside the tornado of rapid expansion, emerging businesses won’t survive or thrive without the right executive teams in place to nurture system-wide creativity and protect organizational values. That’s why top CEOs now report spending 30–50% of their time managing human talent.

So when is the right time to hire an executive search firm?

If you’re asking that question, the answer is probably: right now.

Typically, by the time executive search firms are brought on board, companies are already hurting. They’re missing one or more key members of the executive leadership team, stalled on a crucial search, or struggling with a string of bad fits. They’re losing market share or paying the high costs of lost opportunity. Their CEOs find themselves burdened with endless rounds of recruitment, instead of putting their energy where it counts — building the team.

This happens even with some of the most productive, people-savvy CEOs around. Chalk it up to the dynamics of growth. When a business is small, the personal contacts of the C-suite and Board may suffice to build out a strong executive team. Once the business is on a rapid growth trajectory, that’s unlikely to be true. It takes specific expertise to run a fast, agile, and rigorous search. It takes miles of networks. It takes deep wells of HR experience and intuition.

But once you know you need outside help, how do you find the executive search team that’s right for you?

Here are crucial issues to consider:

Find a search firm committed to learning your culture and core values. It’s not enough to understand the list of competencies you seek in a new executive. Each candidate a headhunter brings you should be vetted for the core value set your leadership team honors. They should share your cultural DNA. Otherwise, their presence is likely to cause turbulence at a point where you need to focus on fortification and growth. You need a strong core values match, to be sure and you can’t afford to think short term; sacrificing values fit over skills fit. Neither should your executive search firm.

Ask who will be leading the search. Remember the adage: Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. The bigger the search firm, the more that people take credit for work of others and the longer your search will take. Make sure your search will be led directly by someone whose name is on the door. It’s that simple. That way the success or failure of your search will reflect directly on the firm you’ve brought on board. It’s the quickest and best way to ensure accountability — and to avoid having a crucial search languish for months on the desk of an overwhelmed associate.

Look for a search partner who has been on the inside, building a company with his or her own hands. A search executive who has been on the inside, rapidly scaling up both an executive team and the functional teams that support them, will understand your needs and growing pains intuitively. They’ll understand the pitfalls of recruitment from the inside out — and they’ll have mastered the art of the executive interview in a way that only happens when your own company is on the line. There is just no substitute for experience.

Look for a search partner who can be a full partner to you. A search firm will be your bridge to talent. It will represent your company to diverse circles of stakeholders, including investors and potential clients. You need to make this choice count on multiple levels. Look for someone with the energy to inspire top talent to join you. Look for someone with the gravitas to represent your firm and its mission in the fullest and most holistic way.

Professional recruiters exist to help entrepreneurs conquer the world with what they are doing. More than just securing great hires, we influence the culture, strengthen teams and form a real mission-based partnership with the companies that have the greatest opportunity to make the world a better place for us all.

This is our calling. It’s why we love what we do.

For more information visit www.DaveCarvajal.com

When Making a Hire Decision, Attitude is More Important Than IQ

When Making a Hire Decision, Attitude is More Important Than IQ

Attitude defined:


(n) A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

People’s predisposed thoughts and feelings are the foundational factor in determining the outcomes of every human interaction (behavior). IQ is also important, and more so at the end stage of interactions, as it allows people to analyze situations and make calculated decisions. Workplace behaviors such as collaboration, task completion, and communication are all critical for high performance and the achievement of strategic outcomes in an organization.

Operational excellence in high-growth companies is about negotiating intrinsic social contracts and hierarchies in the most efficient, clear-minded way in order to get stuff done. Just as happiness depends on outlook, not material things, organizational success depends on employee attitude—not IQ.

Researchers at Stanford University found that individuals who identify strongly with external attributes like IQ and “being smart” are less engaged with the learning process. They are more likely to fall into destructive behaviors that mask their true intelligence and undermine the development of their true potential, to the organization’s detriment.

The researchers found that starting from childhood, people often fall into two outlooks on intelligence: a “fixed  mindset” and a “growth mindset.” Those with fixed intelligence think that success is based upon fixed traits—they believe that they are either born smart or flawed, and their entire lives are defined by a set amount of intelligence and capability.

Often, people who are told they are “smart” hide behind the praise. They become fixated on maintaining their smart status at all costs, even if it means rejecting new challenges for fear of failure, or not wanting to seem dumb. In this limiting mindset, inner life becomes a monologue of comparison that filters out useful, realistic criticism.

On the other hand, those with a growth mindset know that excellent performance depends upon perseverance, hard work, and learning from failure. For those with a growth mindset, life is ripe with opportunities and there is no “failure”— only challenges to overcome on the path to mastery.

How do people become one way or the other? Noted author Carol Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, discovered the “fixed” and “growth” mindsets while studying the behavior of schoolkids in the early 2000s.

She gave two groups of children an easy puzzle or test to solve. Both groups solved the puzzle, but the first group was told they succeeded because they were smart (a fixed trait). The second group was told they succeeded because they worked hard (a growth-oriented trait). Guess which group gave up when the test got tougher? The fixed group, who felt they would lose their “smart” status by failing at a more difficult puzzle. On the other hand, the growth group enjoyed the new challenge.

Dweck’s groundbreaking book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, reveals that emphasis on smarts or effort have profound effects on long-term adult potential. People who develop fixed mindsets prefer tasks they already do well and avoid situations in which they may make mistakes. This leads to aversion to learning and risk-taking—deadly in today’s quickly changing world. Even worse, it compromises morals: the fixed mindset group in Dweck’s research were more likely to lie about their test results to protect their reputation.

In her book, Dweck writes that a fixed mindset is insecure: it is like “always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens.” That’s no way to live—or to live with this trait in an employee, even one who is perfect on paper.

Thankfully, individuals can change their mindsets. Dweck had tremendously positive results when she put fixed mindset students, who thought they had limited potential and suffered social and emotional trouble, on an 8-week study skills program that emphasized the brain as a trainable muscle. Many students who thought they could never succeed learned to face and even love solving challenges.

Dweck’s theory of education is now taught across multiple disciplines, including sports, in which confidence and rebounding from a break in concentration can mean a close win.

For company leaders, recognizing growth attitudes means celebrating employees for their enthusiasm about solving challenges and curiosity about working, not their alma mater. To hire these kinds of people, ask potential hires about their views on personal and professional growth, both great topics of conversation during interviews. Selecting new colleagues based on how they grew from failures in their past experience is golden wisdom on the topic of team-building.

For everyone else, entering a growth mindset means taking a deep inquiry into the nature of our beliefs about self.

Do you believe that your character, intelligence, and creative abilities are inborn attitudes? Or do you dream of bettering yourself through challenges, realizing that your potential is, while not limitless, unknowable? A shift in mental attitude can impact the way you go about your daily tasks, which ultimately leads to the efforts that shape your success.

Choosing the candidate that has a 20 point higher IQ is isolated to that one person. The benefit of choosing the person that has the better attitude magnifies the enthusiasm, flexibility, and adaptation of the entire team. We’re all looking to conquer the world with what we are doing. We need people who want to achieve success for themselves and who can help us do it as a team. A winning attitude is infectious and magnifies teamwork. And teamwork wins championships.