Imagine that you train all year for a major bicycling race.
You are ready to go on the day of the race—and it shows.
You’re near the front of the pack, and you take the lead on the 19th kilometer.
Then, as you round a bend in the road, your tire catches a bit of debris the race organizers failed to remove. In the ensuing crash you twist and badly sprain your ankle, knocking you out of the race.
Despite being in the lead, all of the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears you invested are gone.
This race is over—but there is still next year. Given your heartbreak, you think hard about how to approach next year’s race.
A. Scrap your entire routine?
B. Recognize that sometimes we can’t avoid bad luck?
In this scenario, most rational people would choose B. They would understand that yes, maybe they could have seen the debris in the road, but more than anything what happened was just a horrible case of bad luck.
And, if you’re like most executives and leaders Robertson Associates has the privilege of working with, as soon as those crutches weren’t needed you would be right back to training, determined that no road debris was going to get the better of you.
On occasion we see a similar scenario occur in executive searches.
The hiring manager has an important vacancy to fill, and she works with a recruiter to analyze the needs of the department and the company. Together they create a profile of the ideal candidate, and then, after reviewing potential candidates, the hiring manager and the recruiter come across the perfect fit.
The new employee is intelligent, dynamic, and works well with others. He is likable, and he’s a leader—and this position likely won’t be his last stop in the company. Given his track record of being a loyal employee, he is the perfect mix of stability and potential.
Then, three months into his tenure, something unexpected happens.
He makes an agonizing choice to move and be closer to his sick father, and unfortunately working remotely just isn’t an option.
No one could have seen it coming.
The hiring manager feels like all of that investment, energy, and time were wasted. And while this isn’t true (your recruiter now knows exactly what you are looking for and has talked to multiple candidates who may still be interested), it’s easy to see why anyone would feel this way.
And it’s easy to see why the hiring manager would want to do anything she could to make sure this doesn’t happen again, including radically changing the search process—despite the fact that the process yielded a really great candidate the first time.
Here’s the truth
No executive recruiter has developed a process that completely eliminates bad luck. Ultimately the search and hiring process is about humans, and humans can be unpredictable.
And, like the cyclist who changes his entire training routine as the result of bad luck, the hiring manager who completely changes an otherwise successful search process because of bad luck may actually end up worse off.
At Robertson Associates, we do everything we can to minimize the risk of bad luck in executive search—but we also recognize that events sometimes happen that are beyond anyone’s control.
If the candidate you select leaves or is terminated for any reason during his or her first six months, we will work with your company to find a replacement, at no additional fee.
Because when it comes to a human-driven process like executive search, you can’t eliminate bad luck.
But with Robertson Associates as your executive search partner, you can minimize its impact.
Pierre Collowald is a Senior Partner at Robertson Associates, a European Executive Search and Leadership Solutions boutique. Pierre is working out of Brussels, Paris and Zurich. firstname.lastname@example.org