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Vital Signs: Business Critical Hiring

3 essential steps to getting Business Critical hires correct.


For many organisations, current hiring means focussing on business-critical roles (BCR). Uncertainty can put expansionary recruitment on hold. However, no firm can afford the escalating risk of leaving critical positions unfilled or wait until economic BAU and the inevitable intensification of competition that arises for such talent. 

Defining what is business critical varies from firm to firm. We know from our work in this area, that the one constant in BCR acquisition, is the need for a unique approach to identifying and assessing the talent, formed around these three steps:


1. Do a deeper role analysis than normal
A position becomes business critical if it falls into one or more of four categories: 1) It is essential to an aspect of business continuity 2) The role is core to elements of strategy implementation in the near to midterm 3) The skillset is always in demand in your organisation and is difficult to source 4) The talent need is due to an important, unexpected and urgent business challenge or opportunity. Because these four categories can be polarising, it is easy to overlook other essential criteria for such a business critical hire

Work out the key behaviours and values that you seek demonstrated in any BCR hire. Have clear measures for your expected outcomes and assess a candidate for a BCR, not just on what they achieved but how they worked with others to make it happen. As your organisation evolves, this BCR may change, so assess candidates for their stretch potential to meet new and oncoming challenges.

2. Create a unique hiring process for the role
The solution to BCR hiring lies in the depth of understanding of the requirement by all stakeholders and the span of research that results. Research backed hiring is essential for BCR’s. We know that the quality of talent suited to such roles does not reside on databases or respond to advertisements or sit on basic networks.

Research backed talent acquisition requires a highly collaborative plan between your firm and the representative undertaking the search. Once sourced, the assessment of candidates must be extremely thorough and deploy several techniques. However, this does not mean seeking opinions from multiple stakeholders which often dilutes ownership for, and stalls, critical hire decision making. It requires, continuously testing that a candidate is right through validated OP tools, behavioural interviewing targeting the competencies you seek and rigorous in-market assessment. 


3. Avoid the super halo 
It is difficult not to get overpowered by the bias that can arise when an experienced candidate for an extreme hiring priority is identified. However, along with the essential core skills central to a business critical need, suitable hires must also possess four key traits given the importance of these roles. 1) The drive to perform at the highest standard and with authenticity 2) An action oriented mindset with clarity and continuous focus on the required outcomes, always avoiding distractions. 3) The ability to view complex situations at a system level but bring solution tactics down to simple bite sized communications 4) Capacity to engage others in embracing new thinking and success orientation. 

Business Critical role holders are constantly required to make judgement calls. To do this effectively they draw on a deep well of experience, rigorously tested data, a thorough investigation of options and great instinct for the right outcome. Your process to hire these key executives should do likewise.


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