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3 Ways to Make Great Decisions When Choosing Executives

Published Fri Apr 26 2019


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By Marty Factor, Ph.D

The first words I heard when I picked up the phone were, “We’re in trouble.” Never a good sign.

But as an executive consultant, I’ve become used to the panicked calls over the years, whether because someone unexpectedly resigned, an executive has made a terrible error, or in this particular case, a CHRO from a global retail organization falling short of expectations.

“Remember a few months back, we had a conversation--the CEO, you, and me--about someone we were considering for an executive-level role? You said he wasn’t a good fit for the role, but we hired him anyway. He’s showing up at big meetings with a narrow view, and he’s not seeing the big picture. He’s not anticipating the questions he should be asking, and he is demoralizing his team. It’s been only a few months but several people on his team have left. Can we coach him? We really should have listened to the initial recommendation… and not hired him in the first place.”

This company was certainly not the first to panic about having placed the wrong person in an executive position. Filling executive positions is a high-stakes proposition, and the cost of failure is extremely high. Not only is there the direct cost of hiring the executive, there's the opportunity cost.

In this case, the executive was let go after several months, and it took the company almost a full year to fill the role. So, essentially nothing productive happened in that year, which certainly amounts to a lot of lost time and money. This is why, to avoid these steep costs, smart company leaders try to gather as much data as possible about candidates before making hiring, placement, or development decisions.

In my full article, I discuss three tried-and-true approaches to executive assessment. Each have their pros and cons, but all can help you make effective decisions and lessen the risks associated with key talent strategy judgments. I also provide guidance on applications of each type of executive assessment as well as when and why you would use them.

Marty Factor, Ph.D., is an industrial psychologist and an executive consultant in DDI’s Executive Services group, where he provides innovative solutions to address his clients’ most pressing executive succession, selection, and development challenges. Marty is the proud father of two amazing teenage daughters and a cute Aussie Shepard. He loves to write poetry, hike, and play the piano and guitar.

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