Finding senior leaders: A recruitment guide for co-ops and mutuals – Part 3

24 April 2024

Geoff Curran

Geoff Curran, Practice Leader at executive search firm, Gerard Daniels, recently shared his valuable insights into the recruitment process for senior leadership positions in co-operatives and mutuals.

In the first part of this blog series, we looked at the essential steps to take before commencing the search process. In the second instalment, Geoff shared insights about preparing for and conducting the interview process. In this final instalment, we delve into the crucial steps of selecting and securing the right candidate for senior leadership positions.

Selecting your preferred candidate

You’ve gone through the preparations, conducted the interviews and now you’re down to two excellent candidates. “It’s a common occurrence,” says Geoff, “and at this point you need to complete the information-gathering process that will allow you to make an informed decision”. Reference checks are important and should not be treated as a box-ticking exercise. In a 30-minute conversation with a referee, it is possible to acquire valuable insights. You could also request that the preferred candidate/s complete a psych assessment. Reference checks and psych assessments are helpful, but they are not a substitute for the Board or CEO making the final decision. “If sufficient information has been gathered across the complete recruitment process, our experience has shown it is possible to confidently decide who is the best fit for the role and organisation.”

Preparing and communicating your offer

Once a preferred candidate has been identified, move promptly in preparing and presenting the offer. Initiate a verbal offer with the candidate, outlining key terms such as remuneration (which may be subject to some negotiation). It is also important to complete the relevant background checks. These may include police checks, obtaining proof of qualifications, or even arranging for the candidate to sign a statutory declaration verifying the accuracy of their CV. The employment contract can be issued and made conditional on being satisfied with background checks, or after the due-diligence process is complete.

Geoff highlights the importance of having the offer ready in advance to support a seamless transition from verbal agreement to written confirmation: “A delay at this stage could result in losing the candidate to competing offers, but the good news is that delays are avoidable with proper preparation.”

Communicating opportunity: Why it matters

When you are making an offer to your preferred candidate, it’s time to again communicate to them why joining your organisation (and the particular role) is an appealing opportunity and aligned to their requirements and expectations. Geoff stresses the importance of this step, emphasising that it’s not about hard selling but rather sharing compelling reasons why the opportunity is enticing. Remember, recruitment is as much about a candidate selecting an organisation as it is about the organisation selecting them.

Effectively communicating why the organisation is a great place to work helps shape the candidate’s perception of both the role and the organisation itself. The focus should be on explaining how joining the organisation aligns with the candidate’s career aspirations and personal values, and the tangible and intangible benefits that the role will offer them. Although your organisation’s unique value proposition will naturally be focused on members and customers, it can also help you explore the value you offer to employees.

Providing feedback to unsuccessful internal candidates

Ensure the best possible experience for applicants, by notifying all within a reasonable timeframe, providing closure and clarity on the outcome. Aside from the reputational value to the organisation, it’s the right way to treat people.

Geoff emphasises the particular importance of managing the experience of internal candidates throughout the process. In the event internal candidates are unsuccessful, it’s essential to provide constructive feedback in a debriefing session. Take steps to ensure they remain engaged in their work and can see opportunities for growth and professional development.

Welcoming and onboarding your new employee

Once the formalities are concluded, it’s time to welcome your new leader. Depending on the nature of the role and the size of your organisation, this might involve a press release or social media announcement, an internal announcement to your team, or even arranging an official event. Before they take up the position, be sure to plan what an appropriate induction will look like for them.

Reflecting on the process

After you have completed the recruitment process, take some time as a team to reflect, identifying the positive elements of the experience as well as aspects to change for next time.

Incorporating these practices into the recruitment process not only enhances the candidate experience but also strengthens the organisation’s reputation as an employer of choice within the co-operative and mutual sector, and ensures you select the best possible candidate for your senior leadership roles.

Geoff Curran has many years of experience in business leadership and executive search, much of this within the co-op and mutual sector. Gerard Daniels is an international executive search and board consulting firm operating in the Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

Looking for help with recruitment? Contact Geoff directly.

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