Hiring Your New General Manager

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When the board is faced with the task of hiring a new general manager, there are several factors to consider. Knowing what you’re looking for depends largely on what you’ve seen.

Assess the situation.

The first thing to consider is the circumstance of your organization. Has your current general manager recently given notice of his or her intention to amicably retire or move on to other opportunities? Or is the relationship with your general manager ending under less than ideal conditions? If the circumstances of your parting ways are less than friendly, you may need to involve professional mediators or consultants, such as the Mathis Group, to make a clean break before making your next hire.

Moving forward, you may want to consider hiring an interim manager. Doing so can buy the time needed to go through a thoughtful and deliberate hiring process. An interim general manager can give you time to assess what factors lead to your current situation (if it’s less than ideal) and allow you to carefully sift through candidates to find just the right person and get things back on an harmonious and productive track.

If you do find that the extra time is what your team needs, reflect on whether the interim general manager will be an inside or outside hire. The benefit of an inside hire is that they know the organizational structure and the players involved. They can more easily step into the role than an outsider might. On the other hand, sometimes a fresh eye is what is need most. If you’re trying to steer away from a situation that has become politically charged, it might be best to hire an interim manager with no historical allegiances to internal factions.

Begin Your Search

Once a plan has been established to sustain the status quo while a permanent general manager is found, it’s time to begin the recruitment process. It’s at this stage that a professional recruiter like Dr. Bill Mathis can be enormously helpful. Particularly if your last hire was an unsuccessful fit, an outside adviser with extensive experience and training can help to frame things so that you don’t find yourself in the same predicament again.

A recruitment specialist can establish a list of qualities the board would most like to see in a candidate. They can then use that set of qualifications to target your advertising for the position and even invite applications from specific individuals they know possess the desired skill set. They can administer personality profile assessments that can be helpful in determining a best fit with the organization and as you move through the process they can manage input from the staff and community.

Get To Know Your Candidates

Whether you decide to utilize a professional recruitment specialist or not, there are several things to keep in mind as you move forward. The first is basic due diligence. In addition to contacting references and doing a background check, spend some time reviewing any information available online. Start with a look at the applicant’s LinkedIn profile, and then move on to any blog posts or articles returned when you search for their name in Google. Keep in mind that the Internet can be a source of both fact and fiction. Be sure to verify any findings (positive or negative) with a third party.

Once you’ve decided which applicants you plan to interview, you must determine which individuals from the organization will participate in the process. People you may want to include are members of the human resources department, two or three board members, heads of community groups, various staff members, and/or outside experts such as a recruitment specialist. Be sure that everyone on your selection committee understands what is expected of them in terms of confidentiality, and knows when the press will be alerted to changes in management. Most organizations would prefer that the public not be made aware of a new hire until a contract has been signed. Likewise, most applicants prefer that current employers not hear of impending changes through the grapevine.

Cross The Finish Line

When a successful candidate has been found, it’s then time to talk contract. Make time to frankly discuss expectations on both sides, with a three to five year timeframe in mind. Review salary, benefits, severance and retirement. Be sure to have legal representation for both sides look over the agreement and negotiate as needed. Should this final step begin to feel laborious, just keep in mind how far you’ve come, and take heart that you’ve almost reached the finish line.

After welcoming your new general manager, make the time to keep up effective communication. If you utilized the services of a recruitment specialist like the Mathis Group, this is a good time to engage their skills to make sure the transition is a smooth one. Be sure to review goals and expectations regularly and make space for members of your team to voice concerns should they arise.

Change is an inevitable part of life. By embracing the transition your organization is going through, you can more effectively steer toward a desired outcome and set everyone up for success down the road.

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