Your senior level staff are without a doubt the most important members of your team. Without effective executives, no retail business will succeed over the long-term.

So, how can you go about finding the very best candidates in executive positions?

Set a clear list of goals

Any executive staff members will need to have a wide range of skills and a lot of experience.

It might seem basic, but the easiest way to find the right employees is to know exactly what you’re looking for. Ensure you have the firm metrics of success in place for the role: which areas of the business will the executive be responsible for? How will they be judged?

It’s important to have a firm list of metrics in place, so you can find someone with experience hitting exactly those areas of a retail business.

Can you hire from within?

For smaller business, it’s often beneficial to hire internally rather than from elsewhere. Why? Because all retail firms have a culture, and it helps to hire an executive that truly understands yours.

It may be possible to take an executive from a different area of the business and move them to the new position, especially if you have a succession plan in place and can easily recruit to their former area.

Remember, there are other benefits of internal hiring: it provides an opportunity for your current employees, and can improve morale.

By all means, hire externally if that’s the best way to get the right person, but don’t forget to look closer to home.

Make sure you get a lot of references

Executive hires aren’t the same as hiring normal employees. You want more than their most recent reference: you want to gain as detailed an employment history as you can.

Talk to both those people who worked above your potential candidates AND those people who’ve worked for them. Remember, you want to hire a candidate that inspires your staff, rather than one who simply knows how to flatter more senior staff members.

It’s also worth remembering that people who’ve worked for a potential executive will nearly always offer a more honest viewpoint.

Involve those people who’ll be working with them

If you aren’t going to be working directly with the new executive, involve the people who will be. The last thing you want is to hire someone who you get on with, but that your other executives – and their employees – can’t stand.

This isn’t just about personality, of course: the people who’ll be working close to the new executive will likely understand the most valuable hard and soft skills required to perform to a high standard within the role.

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