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

04 December 2023

Geoff Curran

In a recent interview with the BCCM, recruitment expert Geoff Curran, Practice Leader at BCCM Business Associate Member and executive search firm, Gerard Daniels, shared his valuable insights into the recruitment process for senior leadership positions in co-operatives and mutuals.

This, the first of three blogs, highlights the essential steps to take before calling prospective leaders for an interview, supporting you to make sure you end up with the right people in the interview room.

1. Agree on the position description

This step requires securing agreement on the position objective and key responsibilities among the Board, CEO and Chief People Officer (if you have one).

2. Set selection criteria

Crafting specific and relevant selection criteria is critical to the success of the search. Take the time to consider exactly how you want your new leader to contribute to your co-op or mutual and ensure the selection criteria will support the recruitment of a person with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience.

According to Geoff, criteria should be well-defined and balance culture fit and personal attributes alongside relevant experience. Avoid blindly re-using previous selection criteria for the role, as periodic updates are required to ensure criteria align with emerging challenges and opportunities.

3. Identify key results

Related to selection criteria, the identification of key results areas is often overlooked but remains crucial. Geoff explains that success metrics must be specific – for example, what should the person have achieved by the end of their first year? Work out what matters to your organisation, and how this translates to the role. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be well placed to know whether an applicant has the experience they need to achieve these desired results.

4. Determine base remuneration and benefits

Your co-op or mutual must make some important decisions surrounding remuneration, benefits and relocation assistance (if required). Hybrid work arrangements remain popular in the post-covid landscape and many organisations are still finalising their long-term strategy in this regard. You may decide that being on the ground each day is essential for this role, or it might be that it could successfully be performed by an employee who travels from interstate for a couple of days each week. Appropriate flexibility here can open the role to applicants who possess the necessary experience but who are not in a position to permanently relocate, which can be particularly advantageous for organisations in regional, rural and remote locations. There is no right or wrong answer – it all comes down to what is best for your co-op or mutual.

5. Map out the recruitment process

Having a clear and objective decision-making process will bring about the best possible result. It’s also important to be clear on whether the recruitment process will be open to internal as well as external candidates. Determine if there will be a separate recruitment subcommittee for this role, and if the final decision needs to go before the entire Board, such as in the case of a new CEO appointment.

Decide on the length and number of interviews (including informal screening interviews), as well as any psychological assessment and reference or other background checks you wish to include in the recruitment process. For a CEO-level role, Geoff regards a presentation by the preferred candidate to the Board as essential. It’s also important to decide on which personnel will be involved at each stage of the process, and whether you will draw on the expertise of an external search firm. Remember to decide if and where you will advertise the position, and whether you will directly approach anyone in your collective network to ask them to consider applying for the role.

6. Commence drafting an employment contract

Although some elements might be open to negotiation with the successful candidate, it’s essential that the draft employment contract aligns seamlessly with the needs of the organisation, and that it is prepared in advance to mitigate potential delays during the offer stage.

Once you’ve been through these steps, it’s time to commence the recruitment process. By completing this necessary groundwork, Geoff explains that you will increase the quality of applicants and be one step closer to securing the right leader for your organisation.

Read more in our next blog in this series, where we cover important things to consider in the interview process.

Geoff Curran has many years of experience in business leadership and executive recruitment, 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.

Want help with recruitment? Contact Geoff directly. 

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