As a baby boomer business owner, you’ve probably figured that, at some point soon, you will need to address your business transition.  As an executive search and transition planning expert I often work with baby boomer owners to figure out what they need to transition out, and sometimes that involves hiring a CEO to replace them.

I thought I’d list a few considerations when hiring a CEO to bring your baby boomer business to the next level.  I use a variety of techniques to help owners make the selection, and most of them involve some significant interviewing prowess.  If you’re up to the challenge, you might want to try some of these techniques yourself.

Establish The Business Baseline

In my executive search process, I’m always interested in learning about a candidate, provided they are qualified for the position.  Prior to selecting interview questions, I have already interviewed the business owner and have a clear understanding of his or her preferences, their business culture, mission, vision, values, and purpose.  I have a solid perspective on what has made the business tick, and a good sense of what type of person will be needed to help the business grow into the future.  Once I know the business baseline, I use a competency builder process, and then the selection of interviewing questions.

Use A Competency Builder Methodology

I use a simple but effective way to help the baby boomer business owner to understand, identify and then measure for the core competencies required for success in a CEO’s position.  I’ll use a workshop format where I meet with the owner and key members of the business’ team to help capture the existing and future knowledge of a job’s requirements for success and then illuminate the key competencies of a job. I then utilize the results of this process to develop a psychometric assessment that measures those key job requirements through behavioral, motivational, and decision-making attributes and administer the assessment to potential CEO candidates.

Use Competency-Based Questions

I’m looking to find a successor for the baby boomer business owner (and sometimes I’m hired by an equity investor to find someone to replace the owner!).  This doesn’t mean I look for candidates who can replicate the owner’s competencies, but it does mean I need to identify someone who has the decision-making style, creative ability, and resourcefulness to help move the company to its next level, and who can match up to the business’ culture, mission, vision, values, and purpose – both current and future.  This all assumes, by the way, that the owner has decided to continue working in his or her business and wants a CEO to take the business to the next level.

There are a variety of competency-based inquiries, but I usually want to understand an applicant’s learning ability, problem solving skills, and how the make decisions.  For instance, it is always revealing to ask someone to talk about the toughest decision they have made – and what they have learned from it.  Similarly, it helps to have applicants describe their biggest mistakes in judgment – and what they have learned from it.  There are numerous competency-based questions, including conceptual ability, pragmatism, creativity, leading edge, and others.[1]

Results Make The Difference

Of course, establishing the business baseline, conducting a competency building process, and utilizing competency-based interviewing are only part of the process.  Making sure the baby boomer business owner has identified his or her “why” to exiting the business successfully is another, and significant part.

Planning for and executing both the CEO hire and boomer exit requires considerable effort, but the results do make the difference.

Hiring a CEO and Exiting your business requires expertise. To learn more about our Executive Search and Business Transition Planning Strategies, let me know how I can help.

[1] For a complete listing of the various types of competency-based questions and methodology, Brad Smart’s Topgrading program is highly recommended.