Board members don’t provide value.. unless they are recruited based on relevant criteria

Here are five strategies for successful hirings!

1. Identify the implications of the company's strategy concerning the competencies required on the board.

In addition to “traditional” skills such as leadership and financial expertise, the board's composition should align with the company's strategic goals. Does the strategy involve gaining market shares in new geographic areas, developing cutting-edge technologies, or securing capital for the next phase? Certain experiences and personality traits will be more crucial than others. It is essential to discuss and define these key attributes at the start of the recruiting process.

2. Map the experiences and the personal styles of the current board members.

To mitigate subjectivity and biases (such as over-confidence), establish a method for determining which experiences qualify as "core competencies." A practical approach could involve using non-executive work experience (CV) as a proxy. If an individual possesses at least five years of focused experience in a specific competency area, such as finance, they are considered competent in that area. However, having other functional leaders reporting to a person, like a CFO with a CHRO reporting to them, does not automatically qualify them for core HR competencies. This methodology ensures that individuals identified with core competencies pass the criteria set by an executive search firm tasked with finding candidates with specific experiences. If an individual does not make it to the shortlist, it indicates that other candidates in the market better fulfill the search criteria.

Personal styles are often overlooked but are essential to the board's composition. If you lack consensus on identifying different styles, such as "critical thinking," "innovative," "empathetic,", consider collaborating with someone equipped with tools for such identification. At Leadership Advisor Group, we offer a "board cognitive diversity profiling" tool that identifies board members by main competencies and personal styles.

3. Establish clear criteria for recruiting a new board member.

After identifying the disparity between the current board composition and the needs to support the company strategy, discuss and agree on the most helpful experiences and personal styles required. Invite key senior executives to contribute to the discussion, as their insights provide a different perspective on the board's needs and build commitment to the new board member. Avoid using broad, generic terms and be as specific as possible in formulating criteria. For example, instead of looking for “international experience within MedTech R&D”, you can require a candidate to have "a minimum of seven years of experience managing Profit and Loss responsibilities across at least two continents or eight countries, and a minimum of five years in a Chief Innovation Officer role or equivalent, specifically within a company specializing in Endoscopy production”.

This approach will enable you to identify more relevant candidates and save time!

4. Hire an expert to recruit your next board member.

Avoid prematurely seeking candidates within your network, as it may lead to adjusting the criteria to fit a specific person. The chances of adjusting the search criteria to the person you have in mind are too high! Leave the recruitment process to an expert. You could suggest a few names of candidates that you think might be relevant, but leave it to the expert to take it from there. Ensure alignment on precise criteria before approving the "candidate and company specification." Changing criteria mid-process incurs additional fees. Finally, ensure that the recruitment expert provides you with a comprehensive schedule, enabling stakeholder involvement at different milestones (long list, short list, first and second interviews).

5. Interview and onboard the candidate effectively.

Once the nomination committee has prioritized the short-listed candidates, the time has come for the committee and (later) other board members to interview them. Agree on what criteria to assess the candidates on before you meet. Typically, this could be eight to twelve criteria. Use an interview guide and rating scale to ensure a professional and unbiased evaluation. Clarify expectations regarding board work, physical presence at meetings, and the time commitment for onboarding. Last but not least, remember to familiarize the candidate with relevant national laws, legislations, and the governance code/recommendations on corporate governance.

We hope you feel more equipped to hire relevant members and achieve board excellence!

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