Executive Search Performance Improvement Plan Secrets Revealed

Writing about the components to a Great Employee Performance Improvement Plan got me to think about the benefits of developing performance improvement plans to the executive search process when recruiting CEO’s for closely held and family owned companies.

The process to develop these performance improvement plans are similar yet their application would change from the usual “employee-focused” approach to looking at the executive search process itself. Let’s take a look at how this plan might develop.

Joint Planning & Communication

First, establish an understanding of what will be measured in the executive search process between the executive search consultant and the client company.  It should focus on what the consultant is expected to accomplish during the search process[1]. You need to establish this process to enable the plan and ongoing communications, and use it regularly during the executive search process.

Seek Agreement on Measurable Results

The executive search consultant and the client company should agree on measurable results and how they are achieved.  Examples include – number of applicants, applicants interviewed, time of search, and recommended candidates for final interview and hire, to name a few.  When an evaluation form is used that list the areas to evaluate and there are metrics to measure results it can help the process along.

Establish Clear & Explicit Goals

Both parties should establish clear and explicit goals and provide opportunity during the search for discussion, communicating on agreed indicators for performance, and whether those indicators are being met, especially as the search process is underway. 

Establish a Thorough Communication Process

Each executive search has a beginning and an end. Ensure the performance evaluation plan encompasses the whole search process, and that it is ongoing regarding what the executive search consultant and the client company are expected to accomplish and when, communicates how well the consultant is meeting the agreed upon performance objectives, and what steps need to be taken to ensure that the objectives can be met while the search is underway.

Identify Corrective Action Needs in the Executive Search Performance Improvement Plan

The client company and the executive search consultant should identify corrective action that needs to be taken by the consultant and/or the client company in those instances where the executive search consultant has not accomplished an agreed performance objective as the search is underway.

Identify the Consequences

The client company and the executive search consultant need to identify the consequences when the consultant has not accomplished a performance objective. These consequences need to be discussed at the commencement of an executive search process and the development of the executive search performance improvement plan and periodically reviewed for relevancy during the executive search process.

Establish Basis for Adjusting the Search Fee

Yes, it’s a bit risky to venture into this discussion as an executive search consultant, however, it is important to establish a reliable and rational basis for determining fulfillment of the executive search process.  These metrics are best contained within a professional search agreement between the client company and the executive search consultant and can clarify the basis for a fee adjustment, if any, at the conclusion of the search process.

You may have noticed I have emphasized continuous communication, feedback, observation, and evaluation in the executive search process performance plan. Any executive search performance improvement plan review process established still needs to rely on the active engagement and participation of the search consultant and the client company’s main point of contact.

Evaluations are not difficult, yet they do require that constant attention to a plan of action so that the client company is fully satisfied with the candidates recommended by the executive search consultant as well as the final candidate hiring decision made by the client company.


[1] I’ve laid out several essential steps in a recent post, Omg! The Best Executive Search Firm In Boston Ever

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