Succession planning has always been an important discussion topic for every thoughtful or “planful” retail company. However, with the paradigm shift taking place in the industry, the importance of the process and of making it more than talk has become critical for several reasons. Not only is the current generation of retail leadership retiring in large numbers, the likelihood is that this attrition will continue well into the next two decades. Tie this basic reality to a noticeable lack of prepared talent to fill these critical vacancies, and the current retail business readjustment will continue on its own path with few to influence where that path leads. With the decline in executive training and professional development programs, as well as the changes in leadership profiles (from merchandising to marketing, from marketing to digital), the industry is sure to face continued drift and dislocation.
Once executive leadership in a company understands that a deliberate succession plan is a necessary part of the total strategic planning process, they will next face a process that’s much different from the succession planning processes to date. So what’s so different now?
Bruce Walton, Boston Partner and Co-Head of the Family Business Practice, has contributed two short articles to the FFI Practitioner.
The first article, published 4/19, deals with the issue of “Fit, ” addressing the concepts of core family values, alignment and stewardship as well as clarifying issues of whether or not a candidate actually has demonstrated the key competencies necessary to do the job successfully. Read the full article
The second article, published 6/7, deals with Long Term Incentive Programs (LTIPs), addressing issues of best practices for structuring LTIPs, the value of working with compensation consultants and ensuring that payouts are made only when new enterprise value is created. Read the full article
The lack of diversity at the highest levels of the country’s corporations has become a popular topic of debate, thanks in part to a number of high-profile stories focused on the technology industry.
If there has been less criticism of the nonprofit and foundation sectors, neither is exempt from the problem. Earlier this year, Battalia Winston analyzed the leadership teams of the largest foundations and nonprofits in the United States and found that they, too, suffer from homogeneity. We found, for instance, that while 42 percent of the organizations we surveyed are led by female executive directors, 87 percent of all executive directors or presidents were white, and that there was only minimal representation of African Americans (6 percent), Asian Americans (3 percent), and Hispanics (4 percent) in those positions.
Our findings, which we’ve published in a white paper, The State of Diversity in Nonprofit and Foundation Leadership, are similar to those presented in a number of recent studies. A 2015 study by Community Wealth Partners, for example, found that only 8 percent of nonprofit executive directors were people of color, while a 2013 study conducted by D5 found that 92 percent of foundation executive directors were white.
While one would think that nonprofits and foundations — particularly those that support underserved communities and minorities — would prioritize diversity within their leadership ranks, attracting and recruiting diverse talent is easier said than done, especially at the leadership level. If organizations want to create sustained diversity at the top, they need to continuously cultivate a talent pipeline of diverse high-potential candidates, both internally and externally.
For any number of reasons, building a pipeline of diverse talent can be particularly challenging for nonprofits and foundations. First, the talent pool of diverse candidates is still significantly smaller than the pool of white candidates. According to a 2016 study by Young Invincibles, racial disparities in rates of higher education attainment continue to widen: between 2007 and 2015, the gap between the share of white adults with postsecondary degrees and Latinos and African Americans with postsecondary degrees increased by 2.2 and 0.4 percentage points, respectively.
Second, while for-profit enterprises, especially those in the tech sector, are able to make large investments in diversity and inclusion initiatives and, of course, offer attractive salaries, nonprofits and foundations often lack the financial resources to do so. Without a concerted diversity and inclusion effort backed by a well-developed employer branding strategy, these organizations often struggle to attract and retain the diverse talent they need.
Fortunately, there are a number of best practices that nonprofits and foundations can implement that don’t require major financial investment and can help make them more attractive to diverse talent:
Prioritize diversity organization-wide. Nonprofits and foundations should aim to foster diversity across — and beyond — the organization, from staff, to vendors and suppliers, to the community organizations they partner with and support.
Create clear career paths. If an employee cannot see a clear career path within an organization or easily identify opportunities to advance, he or she is less likely to hang in for the long haul. Establishing professional development and inclusive leadership training programs can help diverse employees see an organization as a place to grow, not as a stepping-stone to something bigger and better.
It’s also important for organizations to create mentorship programs that proactively include diverse employees, who — especially in mostly white environments — are less likely to receive organic mentorship and networking opportunities than their white counterparts.
Proactively identify high-potential talent. Nonprofits should also be aware that as boomers retire in ever-larger numbers, they have the opportunity to add diversity onto the tail end of the employee lifecycle. Leadership can use those transitions to engage in a succession-management process, asking soon-to-depart employees to sponsor and mentor potential leaders inside the organization, prepare them for promotion, and encourage diverse candidates to express their interest in moving up.
Foster a culture of inclusion. Organizations looking to attract and retain diverse talent need to create a culture that truly embraces diverse opinions, perspectives, and lifestyles. Fortunately, there are many ways to achieve that: creating diversity committees with representatives from all levels of the organization and making diversity goals a transparent part of an organization’s overall strategic plan are just two of them. Organizations can also offer flexible working schedules, make accommodations for religious holidays in different faith traditions, and adopt diversity-friendly dress codes.
Most for-profit companies have put out some type of diversity statement and have strategies in place to meet their goals. It’s time for nonprofits and foundations sectors to do the same and incorporate diversity into every aspect of their hiring practices, as opposed to just “talking” about it. Tiptoeing around the diversity conversation will never help your organization achieve its goals or keep it competitive in the twenty-first century economy.
Want to learn more? Download a copy of our white paper, The State of Diversity in Nonprofit and Foundation Leadership. And feel free to share your own tips and best practices in the comments section below.
When I’m helping family-owned businesses find new executive leadership, I often hear the following: “We want to find someone who is the right fit.” This word—fit—is difficult to define, yet is always key to a successful hire. When assessing candidates for fit, it’s helpful to use the following questions as guiding principles:
1. Does the candidate’s leadership style align with company’s value systems?
Fit really means linking the value systems and leadership style of the executive candidate with those of the hiring company. In fact, “value systems linkage” is the best predictor of happiness, in all its dimensions, for any hire. Therefore, for a family-owned business, where hiring a non-family CEO can often feel like arranging a marriage, fit is particularly important.
Naturally, the starting point for the hiring process is understanding the Core Family Values that drive the business. Businesses that have survived across multiple generations have invested much thought in the development of family values. They are typically recorded somewhere, either in a corporate handbook, website, or other core material. If this is not the case, formalizing and recording corporate values is an important exercise to complete before starting a CEO or COO search. Since the family can never be separated from the business, these core values will drive decisions that otherwise would be hard for an outsider to understand.
2. Does the candidate possess the most important competencies for the position?
When a candidate clearly aligns with the family’s value system, it can be tempting to conclude that the candidate is automatically a great fit. However, it’s important to move the decision beyond “I like them.” This is why a position competency model, designed to measure the candidate’s specific skill set against the company’s business goals, is critical. The key is to build a competency model that helps separate and prioritize the must-haves from the nice-to-haves. Nobody will be a perfect match on every competency, but the best candidate will have successfully demonstrated the top three to five competencies in the recent past.
3. Will the candidate be a steward of the family’s success?
When I try to consolidate all of the aspects of fit for family businesses, the single word that comes to mind is “stewardship.” Good candidates understand and appreciate what the family has already built. The new CEO becomes a steward of that success, even when the mandate is to transform the company. Family members in the business, ownership or governance have their own self-images (both within the family and in the community or industry) so tightly connected to the business that outside leadership needs to account for it and factor it into the leadership process.
To be a successful steward for the company, the candidate must be a confident adult who is prepared to handle sensitive situations that will arise within family businesses. For example, a mature non-family CEO will be able to react appropriately when ownership wants to drill down into the details of the business, as they always do at some point. The mature steward will not be threatened by this, while an insecure autocrat will not react well.
Investor Relations (IR) also deserves some thought. Every CEO spends a significant amount of time caring for the company’s owners. In public or private equity owned companies, this is pretty clear. In a family-owned business IR involves multi-generational dynamics and strong emotions. It may involve dealing with a Family Council or helping educate a new generation to be successful future owners. So IR does not go away; it is just very different.
In summary, the “best fit” candidates will embrace the core family values and have the capacity and patience to deal with family dynamics without becoming embroiled in them. At the same time the non-family leader will have the right core competencies to lead the business to success, however it may be defined.
Fred Lamster, Partner in Battalia Winston’s Consumer and Retail practice, has contributed an article entitled, “Organization Planning in a Troubled Retail Sector: 6 Keys to Success,” to Total Retail, the go-to source for executives looking for analysis on the omnichannel retail industry.
Co-written with Sharon Tunstall, former VP of Human Resources at Nike, the article shares actionable strategies for impactful organizational planning. In a time when retail is in need of more strategic leadership with greater cross-functional expertise, organization planning is more critical than ever.
DAS Companies, Inc. is a high growth, profitable, and privately held $350 million marketing and global supply chain portfolio company. The company has strategic goals of becoming a $1 billion organization and is in the process of implementing 21st Century leading edge technologies and streamlining supply chain cycle time. DAS designs, imports and distributes automotive accessories, travel merchandise, and mobile electronics that add safety, convenience, comfort and leisure for on-the-go consumers, through a series of channel partnerships including travel centers, heavy duty trucking centers, and electronics and specialty retailers. The successful candidate was identified in 9 days and the search was completed in 83 days by Terry Gallagher.
Timothy most recently was Director, Information Technology at New Penn Motor Express, a $250 million transportation company providing regional, next day ground services through a network spanning the Northeastern United States, Quebec, Canada and Puerto Rico. Timothy oversaw the day-to-day IT activities and an annual budget of $7 million. He overhauled the Information Technology environment, established an IT Steering Committee and developed and ratified a 4 year IT transformation plan.
Prior to New Penn Motor Express, he was Director, Information Technology at The Ames Companies. He managed all day-to-day IT activities, an annual budget of $7 million and spearheaded strategic development efforts on a global scale. He implemented new metrics and KPIs, cultivating a continuous improvement culture throughout the IT Department and promoted business growth by integrating the e-commerce platform to better capitalize on B2C, B2B, and B2B2C opportunities.
Earlier in his career, he was Director of IT for the North American Region at ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, a $1 billion global manufacturer of professional welding and cutting machinery and associated consumables, servicing customers via a multi-facility manufacturing and distribution system.
Timothy earned his M.S. in Management from Purdue University and his Bachelor of Science in MIS from Clarkson University and has completed Six Sigma Black Belt Training Programs.
Battalia Winston International announced today that Susan Oliver has joined the firm as Partner in its Life Sciences Practice.
Susan has more than 20 years of experience conducting executive and board level searches for companies in the biotech, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries.
Drawing from her deep understanding of critical issues in the life sciences sector, including clinical and regulatory affairs, specialty pharmaceuticals, and drug/device combination therapies, she identifies high-performing executives who provide transformational results for her clients.
Susan began her recruiting career at Heidrick and Struggles and later joined Korn/Ferry International as a key member of the firm’s Consumer Products and Advanced Technology Practice. She co-founded Oliver John Partners, where she conducted executive searches for pharmaceutical, biotech, retail and consumer packaged goods firms. Before joining Battalia Winston, she served as Managing Partner of NGS Global’s Life Sciences Practice.
“My approach to executive search centers on two primary goals: delighting my clients and ensuring that my candidates feel appreciated for the time and effort they’re investing with me,” said Susan. “My success in search is largely due to my commitment to creating long-lasting relationships with my clients. Their success is my success.”
Susan’s executive search approach is also informed by her keen understanding of the most pressing issues in the life sciences industry.
“Both biotech and device companies continue to be under pressure to produce improved clinical outcomes in a challenging regulatory environment,” explained Susan. “As a result, our clients have to be better, smarter, and more efficient than their competitors. My job is to help them attract and retain the talent they need to do just that.”
Battalia Winston’s Life Sciences Practice specializes in recruiting executives and other senior-level leaders for a broad spectrum of companies, including clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices and equipment, diagnostic and consumer health, and animal health industries.
“We’re thrilled to have Susan join our team,” said Dale Winston, CEO and Chairwoman at Battalia Winston. “Her long track record of success in the life sciences sector is a valuable addition to our practice.”