Contingent or part-time executives can be a boon for small businesses.  Where else can you economically benefit from the extraordinary knowledge these workers bring to the table? These executives are brought in to deal with difficult legislative issues (think Affordable Care Act), oversee product rollouts, transition to new hardware platforms, or to simply fill in while a permanent replacement is found.

Benefits to the employer include:

1)      An extremely high level of experience.

2)      Reduced cost since payment is made only for time needed (retainer and length of assignment are both established in advance)

3)      Minimal learning curve

4)      Commitment, knowledge and continuity afforded to staff members

Therefore, in order to maximize these benefits, finding the “right-fit” person for a temporary or part-time executive position is extremely important. The process is a little different than it is for other positions within your organization. So, once you decide that there is a need for a temporary or part-time executive, here are some points to remember (best practices, if you will) that can make for a successful and profitable working arrangement.

1)      Be clear on what the assignment is and what the goals/results need to be.  Maintaining continuity during a search for a permanent replacement requires a completely different skill set than rolling out a new product line or restructuring a company’s financing.  If you are not absolutely clear on the needed goals and objectives, even the best contingent executive is likely to fail.

2)      Do not think of the situation in terms of a quick solution.  You do not want to bring on an executive simply based on his availability vs. his skill set.

3)      Make sure you establish a realistic assignment length.  If the contingent executive has another placement lined up and your project goes long, you may have to start all over again with a new person.

4)      Develop a list of qualifications you will seek.  Do not only go by title.  A CFO at a small start-up is going to bring in an entirely different skill set than a CFO who has had a successful track record at a multi-national corporation.  Also, realize that there is no such thing as over qualification.  Given the fact that the person you bring in needs to “hit the ground running” and be able to grasp your company’s issues quickly, choosing someone with a resume that is 75% of what you want just will not cut it.

5)      Check the fit.  Again, management styles vary, and for the sake of team cohesiveness, you need to bring in a person who best fits your organization’s culture.  Temperament, communication style, chemistry and personality are all crucial in order to make the best fit possible and ensure a seamless transition.

Now after reading these tips, you need to assess your ability to find the right candidate.   Do you have an extensive network of contacts you can leverage to find the right person?  Do you have the time to dedicate to this process?   Do you feel confident enough to hire the right person?   If you feel that you do not have the expertise or the proper network to find a qualified candidate, you should turn to a qualified human capital management firm (with a network of qualified candidates with relevant experience) who can help you.

Look for a firm that has a solid network of highly qualified candidates with relevant experience who can help you with your needs assessment and review.   This can end up saving you time and money, especially if you realize that you are heading down the wrong path.  Finally, remember that the firm’s job does not stop with placement.  A reputable firm will continue to communicate with you after the executive comes on board.  They can be resource for you in facilitating any needed communication between you, your staff and the contingent executive.   With a careful planning and an open communication strategy, even the most expensive, seemingly-out-of-reach executive can add real value to your bottom line.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.  

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