Time kills all deals

Working in the Executive Search world provides our firm, and me personally, with the opportunity to work with a wide variety of firms and a very diverse group of individuals as we perform our search work.  Each firm, each individual has specific and unique needs and we do our best to meet them.

During this past weekend I had the opportunity to watch the Vanderbilt Commodores play baseball against the Long Beach State Dirtbags (yes, that nickname is correct).  The Dirtbags have a good history in collegiate baseball, but their present team has some annoying habits, the worst of which is their slow play.  The essence of this play came to a head in yesterday’s game.  The first four innings of this game took 2 hours, roughly 30 minutes per inning.  I have attended many games at Vanderbilt where the entire game lasted slightly over 2 hours, especially when David Price was on the mound.  I think Vandy coach Tim Corbin hit the nail on the head when he made this quote about yesterday’s game:

“If I was a fan, I would have vomited or left — either one. I just don’t know if I would have stayed around because it was not fun to watch.”

I have been a season ticketholder for Vandy baseball for six years now and this has to be the strongest complaint I have ever heard Coach Corbin register.  It also underscores my key point for today’s post.

As a fan, slow play makes baseball or any sport boring, dull and disinteresting.  The same “slow play” in the search world not only makes searches challenging, but the lack of decision making or intent to move to a decision costs both the candidate and the hiring company, but it especially hurts the hiring company.  Let’s investigate more into why slow play, or slow decision making, hurts the search process.

My work in the search process is to manage the client and the candidate.  In doing so we help provide a timeframe, a schedule, and we also do our best to make sure both sides keep to that schedule.

When clients drag their feet the law of unintended consequences kicks in.  Candidates start to make assumptions when clients don’t move forward.  Here are some of the more common assumptions candidates will make:

  1. The client is not interested in me since they are not moving ahead with me as a finalist
  2. The client does not know what they really want in this process or in this role
  3. The client is not timely in making decisions and I wonder what they would be to work for

As the search consultant we do our best to dispel the thoughts above, but it is hard, especially when things continue to drag on, just like the baseball game I mentioned earlier.

What should clients do to keep candidates engaged?

  1. Make decisions when promised, or have valid reasons for postponing decisions in the search process
  2. Keep the search firm and the candidates informed when key changes affect the search process
  3. Be honest and open

Fans don’t like to attend baseball games where there is no action or wasting of time.  Candidates in the search process are the same way.

If you don’t keep the game moving along you will lose fans.  If you don’t keep the search process moving along you will lose candidates.

Both are bad for the game.