How do I find a general manager for my company?

Many companies face the challenge of filling a new managing director position.

What options are there and what is the best approach for this in order to find an ideal managing director?

Of course, the best approach is always to fill a managing director position internally. However, if there are no potential internal candidates, or if none of the “candidates” seem suitable, then the HR department can actively search itself, the owners or supervisory board members can use their network, or a personnel consultancy can be commissioned.
The search for a general manager for your company is a challenging task, but there are several approaches that can help you

1) Define intensively, in detail and, above all, completely the requirements for the position:

Be clear about the skills, experience and qualifications the ideal general manager should bring to the table. Consider what role the managing director should play in your company and what goals he or she should achieve. What is particularly important? Professional competencies, cognitive skills, market knowledge, personal characteristics, or fit with the company culture are all very important factors.

2) Internal Recruiting:

Check to see if there are potential candidates in your existing employee pool. Sometimes it can be beneficial to promote someone who is already familiar with the company and knows the company culture. The key here is how well informed HR is about the potential of its employees and, if applicable, how well it has developed internal talent.

3) External own recruiting:

If there are no suitable employees within the company, the company must search externally. There are several channels to find potential candidates. Place job ads on online job boards or use social networks such as LinkedIn. However, this approach carries some risks. A general manager of a company must reconcile many strengths within himself: For example, he must not only be familiar with the products, markets and organization and live the corporate culture, but also have a clear understanding of the responsibility. This means that the appointment of a new managing director is a truly significant decision that involves a great deal of risk and must therefore be carried out with the utmost care. In addition, a new appointment is very often confidential and cannot be openly communicated – a so-called “covert search” must be launched. For these reasons, most companies work with HR consultants when filling CEO positions – not least because HR departments often lack the resources and know-how to approach top managers and convince them to make a change. Experienced HR consultants have often been in management positions themselves and know what makes candidates tick, what they are looking for, what they want to earn, and where and, above all, how to approach them.

4) Search through a recruitment consultancy

The advantage of hiring a recruiter is that they always actively approach suitable candidates. The best personnel consultants bring intensive industry expertise and can draw on a long-standing network. Furthermore, they use professional diagnostic tools to check whether the candidate fits the company personally, professionally and in terms of management style and corporate culture.

When hiring a professional consultant or headhunter to find a suitable CEO, there are the following points to consider:

Experience and expertise: make sure the executive search firm has experience and expertise in recruiting executives, especially in filling general manager positions. Check the executive search firm’s track record and reputation in the industry.

Industry expertise: Make sure the executive search firm has knowledge and understanding of your specific industry. A good knowledge of the industry will enable the consultancy to identify suitable candidates, fully understand the requirements of the position and, most importantly, inspire potential candidates to make the switch.

Discretion: searches for executive director positions often involve confidentiality, and sometimes the utmost discretion. Ensure that the executive search firm can maintain confidentiality and discretion in the process and take the necessary steps.

Methodology and process: Inquire about the recruitment consultancy’s approach and process. A transparent and structured approach is important to ensure that potential candidates are thoroughly screened and evaluated. The best recruitment consultancies work through direct approach, structured face-to-face interviews, and screening of candidates through diagnostic tools. They also check references and conduct other selection processes such as case studies or assessment centers.

Network and resources: check that the recruitment consultancy has a broad network of contacts and resources to find potential candidates and successfully integrate them into the staffing process. An extensive database and well-established network can facilitate access to highly qualified candidates.

And ultimately, it is important to choose a recruitment consultancy with whom you can build a good and trusting working relationship. Close collaboration and open communication are critical to finding the best possible candidate for the CEO position and inspiring them to make the switch.

By Klaus Mayerhanser

Executive Search Consultant for Telecommunications, IT & Consumer Electronics

Klaus Mayerhanser is a founding partner and Managing Director of DELTACON Executive Search. With his team, he is responsible for the telecommunications, information technology and consumer electronics sectors and heads our office in Munich. In addition to his Executive Search Consulting activities, he has ten years of operational management experience in sales and marketing functions within the ICT industry.