Executive Team Member Resigns: Filling Gaps in Leadership with the Right Candidate

August 5, 2019  |  By Phoenix Management  |  3 Minute Read

Over the next few weeks, we will cover a number of the key challenges businesses in transition face, and how to make the right call. In this, our first entry, we tackle an unexpected loss of an executive team member.

A member of your executive team has resigned, quit, or faced termination unexpectedly, leaving a hole in leadership and expertise in the workforce. You are on the lookout for a new hire—someone who is right for the job and available immediately—however, traditional recruiting processes are long, difficult, and may not result in a successful hire. Further still, you recognize the importance of finding the right candidate as well as the pitfalls of settling too soon on a candidate that does not quite fit. All this must be accomplished without reducing the productivity and profitability of everyday business operations. With no time to waste and no room for error, you must act quickly and decisively to fill the role.

When faced with a high-stakes hiring decision, there are a number of approaches you can take, each with its own benefits and pitfalls. Here are four options:

1. Promote from Within

For a quick fix, you may consider filling the position with another executive who demonstrates strong potential. This would minimize the time-to-resolution and avoid gaps in knowledge that come hand-in-hand with on-boarding a new team member from outside the organization since an in-house candidate is already intimately familiar with the brand. Yet, this approach fills one gap while creating another, requiring you to now fill the position of the individual you just promoted. Beyond this, you have to consider if the new position is truly the right fit: Does it align with the individual’s core competencies, or is it beyond their wheelhouse? Are you promoting the individual based on experience, skills, and competencies alone, or simply because he or she currently holds a role within your organization? Answering questions such as these are critical for determining if promotion is the best course of action.

2. Hire a Candidate Immediately

A second option would be to call in a recruiter to bring in a handful of candidates from whom to select. While this is a speedy approach, hiring the best candidate immediately available does not often result in the best candidate for the position. Rather, hiring quickly for the sake of time sacrifices a careful consideration of an individual’s weaknesses and results in tradeoffs that oftentimes would not be made. Moreover, when a selected candidate doesn’t quite fit, they often don’t last, placing you in the same position in the near future that you are in today, or worse still, requiring you to intervene and terminate the employment.

3. Temporarily Fill the Position Internally

Alternately, you may choose to split the responsibilities of the team member amongst existing leadership as you conduct a more thorough search. If you choose to allocate internal resources and give a current executive(s) more responsibility, you have to ensure team members have the available time and resources needed to assume more tasks and functionality without impacting performance. In addition, when functionality is split between areas of expertise, it’s critical that the team members are equipped to manage a sector outside of his or her normal realm and simultaneously balance the focus on each function without becoming overburdened and ineffective at both positions.


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4. Utilize an Interim Partner

Sourcing an interim manager who can temporarily fill the gap in leadership and expertise provides your organization immediate relief while carving out the time needed to conduct a thorough and exhaustive search for the right candidate. The interim manager can then serve each organization’s specific needs and timelines without training so daily operations can remain effective while a permanent fit for the job is located over time. They prevent you from making a hasty, and often costly, hiring decision, and can work for your company for as long or short as you need to properly stabilize the situation prior to the arrival of the new hire. 

Interim Management with Phoenix

When an unexpected change occurs in the C-suite, interim management allots organizations the time needed to recruit the right candidate; however, for an interim manager to be effective, it is critical to select a seasoned professional with an arsenal of experience operating in times of transition.

With Phoenix, you can choose from a number of individuals who have served in a large range of industries as interim Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Restructuring Officers, and more. Our professionals are capable of bringing much needed stability back to your organization with objective and expert vantage points. Learn more about our team’s vast array of experience, or reach out to get started.

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