How to Successfully Integrate Senior Talent

Properly integrating top-level hires can get new senior leaders off to a fast start, and prevent a lot of difficulties down the line. Angela Navarro and Jill Ratliff of search firm Beecher Reagan offer up some keen advice.

August 14, 2019 – Recruiting and integrating senior talent is vital to any company’s success. Top talent stands to provide leadership, added revenue and greater market penetration. Yet integrating senior hires is not necessarily a simple endeavor. When a top-level hire fails to work out, the cost can be daunting—in terms of dollars and time lost as well as damaged client relationships, misdirected personnel resources, recruiting costs and potential revenue.

Such hiring is critical for growing search firms like Houston-based Beecher Reagan, which recently brought in two new senior leaders in Angela Navarro, as president and chief operating officer, a new role in the firm, and Jill Ratliff as senior advisor for its leadership results practice.

Three key components make up the ultimate new hire experience, said Ms. Navarro. “Best-in-class programs result in faster ramp time to productivity, immersion in company culture and positive engagement impacting the new hire and the entire team they work with,” she said.

So, what makes up that new hire experience? Onboarding, orientation and integration. “Onboarding and orientation are well-thought and structured programs delivered by the hiring firm focusing from the “outside in,” said Ms. Navarro. “New hire onboarding is created to outline the important connections the incoming new hire needs to make and specific role expectations. Orientation programs are designed to inform the new hire about the firm they have joined and the company culture. The most robust orientation programs have a community-based program that serves to immerse the new hire in a cohort environment. Both onboarding and orientation are designed and delivered by our clients to their new hires to inform the ‘who’ and the ‘what.’”

“In the case of an executive hire, the third and critical component is integration,” said Ms. Navarro. “Integration amplifies the success of a newly hired executive. Integration starts before the executive begins their journey in their new role and stays with them throughout their orientation and onboarding timeframe. Integration offers the ‘how’ using an ‘inside out’ approach. Integration equips the incoming executive to integrate faster, build their brand and optimize success in their new company.”

Finding the Right Talent…The First Time

In this brand new episode of ‘Talent Talks,’ we explore the latest developments in recruiting key talent with our host Andrew Mitchell. This time around we are joined by Angela Navarro, president & chief operating officer, and Jill Ratliff, senior advisor in the leadership results practice at Beecher Reagan.

According to these two recruiting experts, the impact of today’s talent shortage puts more and more pressure on companies to achieve high success rates in their senior leadership hires. This leads to an increased emphasis on the search firm to keep that rate high. In the executive leadership space, that means search firms are going to have to be focused on doing more right . . . more often. Listen now!

Ms. Navarro was hired to drive Beecher Reagan’s long-term vision and expansion. She is expected to help bolster the company’s global reach, develop the leadership advisory practice and broaden core client offerings such as Verity, Beecher Reagan’s proprietary professional services leadership assessment. Verity leverages the firm’s most impactful candidate profiles and Hogan Assessments data science to provide clients access to greater insights, improving the quality of engagement, interviewing and hiring practices.

Ms. Navarro joined Beecher Reagan directly from the management consulting industry. She most recently held the role of SVP of global operations at North Highland Worldwide Consulting. Ms. Navarro has more than 20 years’ experience within the professional staffing and search industries, building a strong and consistent legacy of developing internal teams and external alliances to stimulate and deliver year-over-year growth and profitability. Moreover, Ms. Navarro has a proven track record in strategic planning and sustainable continuous improvement.

Driving Growth

“Angela’s appointment is a clear reflection of how far we have come as a major player in the search and leadership firm sector,” said Clark Beecher, managing partner of Beecher Reagan. “Her success leading and growing recruiting firms and driving growth as the head of global operations for a management consulting firm strengthens our leadership team and positions us for greater impact and service to our clients. We are not only excited but honored to have her.”

Ms. Ratliff, managing partner at JMR Leadership, brings a wealth of expertise in leadership development, executive coaching and business and personal transformation to Beecher Reagan’s leadership results practice. She works with Fortune 100 and professional services firms to develop their C-Suite and high performing leaders to reach full potential.

Ms. Ratliff is an Amazon No. 1 bestseller in the business leadership category with her book, Leadership Through Trust & Collaboration: Practical Tools for Today’s Results-Driven Leader. She has more than 25 years of Fortune 100 human resources management experience, serving in key senior positions such as executive vice president at Assurant Specialty Property, a $2 billion financial services organization and EVP leading HR for ING North America.

Founded in 2009 by Clark Beecher and Tim Reagan, Beecher Reagan is an executive search and leadership firm focused exclusively on senior professional services and the consulting talent market. The firm brings more than 100 years of combined experience to help professional services, Fortune 500 and alternative investment companies map search strategies to organizational goals.

Ms. Navarro and Ms. Ratliff recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the challenges of finding top talent, how best to integrate new hires, the future of executive search and more. Here’s an excerpt from those discussions.

Is the current talent shortage something to be overly concerned about or will this pass?

Navarro: I believe there is a great opportunity to find and integrate top talent in the marketplace. We appoint the most senior leaders in our space and have successfully been doing so for 10 years. The talent our clients want aren’t looking. Partnering with an executive, specialized retained search firm dramatically increases the time to hire while resulting in increased top and bottom line growth for the client. By using a customized integration approach with new hires starting in a leadership role, the time it takes for an executive to be immersed and engaged decreases. This is an enormous opportunity for both the hiring firm and the incoming executive.

Ratliff: I think the most successful companies (and people) on the planet see everything as an opportunity. The last time I checked, there were over 7 billion people in the world. So, the question becomes, are organizations paying attention to the changes and innovating to put themselves in a position to attract and develop the talent to meet their growth needs? I do think growing trends like: independent workers/free agents, greater job flexibility and seeking meaningful work that improves the quality of life for people and the sustainability of the planet are going to continue to gain steam; organizations need to decide how to bend those trends to their favor.

Explain the best way to integrate new hires? How does company culture play a role? 

Ratliff: I think we all know intuitively that how you bring a new leader into your organization is critical to how fast they become productive and can also set the tone for how long they will stay, so attention to detail around this is a good investment. I actually believe the integration process starts when the candidate is still a candidate and not yet a hire. I like to think of it in four parts: 1. Recruiting (attracting by demonstrating your brand/values and how a candidate feels during the recruiting process); 2. Orientation (you “arrive” and here’s what you need to know right away about this organization); 3. Onboarding (here are the people you need to know now AND start building relationships with while getting introduced to the business and understanding the goals and priorities that you will lead and support); 4. Integration (bringing your “whole self” to work and navigating the challenges you didn’t anticipate as well as the stressors inherent in any new role. Culture is simply everything. It’s who the organization is and how it functions. Like an individual, it is either strong, confident, organized, positive and healthy or it is weak, struggling, disorganized, negative and in need of turnaround. Like people, every organization’s culture sits somewhere on that continuum. Depending on how well you understand your culture and how honest you are willing to be about it, you can attract the talent you need to either add to the growth or help get things turned around.

Recruiting Sector Jumps 13.9 Percent, Driven by Tightening Talent Markets
A constricting labor market with low unemployment means companies are struggling to find qualified talent. When the right people are found, the costs associated with hiring them are rising, making a lengthy onboarding process now the rule, not the exception. 

Jill, how do you expect to leverage your past experience in your new role?

That’s a pretty easy answer for me. As an EVP, people and culture expert for over 20 years, I have “sat in the seat” of several Fortune 100 companies. I have felt the responsibility for providing leadership to finding, developing, and compensating talent (which we all know is the force and vitality of any organization). I know the difference between what looks good on paper and what actually works because I’ve tried and failed at the game many times; I have learned well. I know how outside consultants can truly add value that goes beyond academic best practices.

What opportunities do you see ahead?

Ratliff: I see incredible opportunities. We are at a time in our history where there are no barriers, other than the ones we create ourselves, to achieving whatever we set our minds to. The evidence of innovation is everywhere, in every industry. We are learning at exponential rates; I have heard the data point that we are now learning in one year the equivalent of what took 200 years not that long ago. That’s incredible. There are literally limitless possibilities to create and market new solutions for our clients.

What challenges do you see ahead?

Ratliff: The challenge I see is that we have to learn how to thrive in rapid change and growth. Too many people are stuck in the past or are overwhelmed with the pace change and, frankly, all the choices we now have. This is a solvable problem and just requires us to build some new “muscles” and “mindsets.” We need to really pay attention to what’s happening in the bigger world around us and in our immediate surroundings. Once we notice where we are missing the mark, we have the freedom to choose to grow and change rather than be a victim of it. Virtually all problems are solvable and that’s what we came to do, create solutions.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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