- Know what you need to accomplish and define it within the position description. Make sure your candidate covers at least 80% of your requirements. Is this person truly capable of meeting or exceeding your job requirements?
- As yourself: will this person fit into the existing team? What is it about this candidate that confirms how I feel about them?
- Listen carefully to the feedback from other interview jury members, and your team. Take any dissension seriously and explore further with the candidate, and the team.
- Validate all of your findings about the candidate with references. You need to be sure you get at least one prior manager, one or two peers and one or two subordinates. You want to know what this candidate is really like to work with from all angles.
Sometimes, when we initiate a search project, the client requests sound similar to this: “We want to hire an ‘up and comer’ or a ‘high potential’ candidate”. Generally, the motivations are along this thought process: The candidate will work harder for us, they will not have expectations or limitations and biases from their past similar roles, and the client can pay a lower salary and bonus to get the job done. Efficient thinking, right?
This can be true of many C-Suite hires, VP roles, where the client believes a senior director, who is ready to step up, would work very well, especially in a smaller company. While I agree with the logic of this, many times this is not how it plays out in real life. You need to be certain of the candidate’s capabilities – that they are not just “high potential” but also highly capable. We tend, as humans, to be enamored by potential. What is important is capability. So, how do you measure capability?
First you need to clearly define your business goals and objectives for the role you intend to hire for – in other words – if you hire a great candidate, what outcomes do you expect? What do you want to accomplish with this hire? Then you need to look at what the candidate has already accomplished to date in their current and previous roles to see how they measure up to what you want to accomplish.
For example, you want to commercialize a novel and disruptive technology, in doing this, you will replace or improve a standard of care treatment protocol? Has this person done this before? Did they set the strategy for the launch? What were the results? Did they hire a team and consultants or use partners and distributors? Were they on target with sales? What was their spending budget? How well did they coordinate with other key members of the leadership team?
If the candidate has not demonstrated mastery of these skills and abilities, then they will not be able to bring that to your company. However, if they have hired and led teams of people, mentored and developed subordinates, and demonstrated key leadership capabilities while they executed well, then they could step up into a bigger role.
When defining capacity, it is very important to conduct thorough reference checks – from the people that the candidate has worked for, with and supervised. You need to understand the candidate’s “in the trenches” strengths and weaknesses, not just the surface person you meet in the interview process. You also need to understand how this person’s skills have evolved and grown over past roles, that will also provide insight into how this candidate will grow with you. It is especially important to understand how the candidate manages pressure and unexpected events. This information will allow you to learn just how to motivate, and manage the candidate, as well as their capacity for growth and execution.
Working with a seasoned executive search consultant can help you not only identify strengths and weaknesses, but also help you rank candidates with their peer group, ensuring that you make a great hire every time.
- Identify core values you want your team to share.
- Identify 6 key goals you want to accomplish by adding to your team. Ferret out what accomplishments your candidate needs to have met or exceeded, for example, running a $50 million division versus a $5 billion division.
- Identify 4 key attributes in your current team that makes them successful in your company. For example, how do they manage tough situations? How do they communicate vision for their teams? Is there a bias towards execution or building consensus before execution?
- The recruiter knows people and the entire pool you are looking at. It’s easy for us to calibrate talent. The best recruiters remember great talent, and often keep them top of mind.
- Good recruiters then vet people for “fit”. We know whether someone will work well with you, and only send the right people your way.
Why are some executives considered great decision makers and others are only good or adequate? Great decision makers know when to delegate decisions, understand the risk of not delegating decisions, and when it is critical to make the call themselves. These great decision makers are also great listeners. They are careful to consider other viewpoints, especially strongly opposing ones, and are free to explore how the other side feels about the options.
CEOs are often perceived as having all the answers, when in fact, they simply cannot know everything that is happening in the company, the industry, and with their board of directors. They must learn to build a trustworthy team that fills in the gaps. Great decision makers simply delegate decisions to people who do have the information and answers when they can.
Another decision making misperception is that one bad decision will end a long career. This is simply not true if the CEO has established credibility. We all know everyone makes mistakes; if the decision causes your team to lose respect and diminishes your credibility then sure, you are in trouble. But if you have credibility and make a judgment error, you can and will recover, especially if you make another decision to quickly re-route the results of the last decision.
Credibility is the key to an executive’s ability to execute – it helps you gain access to the right people, the right information, investments, support, customers, etc. allowing you to ultimately make better decisions.
Credibility is built upon a track record of execution, integrity (yes – this is still alive and well in business), the people you surround yourself with, and managing your board communications.
The best decision-makers are recognizable from the people they surround themselves with, their track record of success in a certain area, their ability to gather assimilate information, and the knowledge of when to delegate decisions and when the buck stops here. They also operate with the utmost integrity and people will tell you how great they are to work with. At the bottom of it all is how they manage their working relationships to make the entire system work to their benefit. These are the CEOs you want on your team.
Asha Nayak MD PhD
Asha joins Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation with over 20 years of experience developing medical technologies. Throughout her career, Asha has focused on game-changing breakthroughs that move the needle for large numbers of patients in life-changing ways. As a practicing physician, she is especially interested in technologies that cure, prevent, and deliver therapies with precision. In addition to her work in development, Asha brings 10+ years of corporate and venture investment experience to JJDC.
Prior to her start at JJDC Asha served as a board of director at Sage Therapeutics, HD Medical, and Stanford University. She has assisted numerous startup companies in the Silicon Valley while maintaining her position as an ER Physician at Stanford VA Hospital since 2001.
Welcome to The JJDC team Asha!
Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. is the strategic venture capital arm of Johnson & Johnson. JJDC pursues opportunities to solve critical healthcare needs. Their portfolio companies benefit from the full global capabilities of Johnson & Johnson as they collaborate to drive innovation. JJDC finds transformative ideas and helps them mature into real solutions for today’s patients. Guided by a clear, consistent investment strategy aligned with scientific goals, JJDC works hand-in-hand with partners to navigate the path to creating breakthrough health innovations. They invest across sectors-pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer healthcare-and at all stages, from seed-level startups to Series B and beyond.
Learn more at www.jnjinnovation.com/jjdc