When it’s time to hire an entry or mid-level practitioner, the process is typically pretty straight forward: screen prospects, reviewre-sumes, conduct interviews, and select a candidate who
can fill a needed role.
But filling partner-level positions is as
much art as science.
treat it this way, and
find themselves with
expensive and ineffective leaders. And while
client-facing roles is
no picnic, the ramifications of a partner hire
who turns out to be a
bad fit can have material and lasting impact—on business performance, culture and reputation.
Here are five mistakes that consulting firms make
when filling executive leadership positions.
1. EQUATING REVENUE PARTICIPATION WITH REVENUE GENERATION
It seems that every firm has a different approach to recognizing revenue. Some firms double and even triple
count to give incentives for collaboration. That type
of accounting model also opens the window for a tag-along subject matter expert to claim that they have
proven client hunting skills—and this is dangerous.
Picture this: a consulting veteran in a performance
improvement firm with an incredible resume and repu-
tation boasts responsibility for $10 million in revenue in
his/her prior year. Taken at face value this seems impres-
sive. But dig a bit deeper – how does the firm recognize
revenue? Of the $10 million, how much did the candi-
date originate? Was this just an account that he/she was
given to manage? Who was involved in the sale? Has
the candidate penetrated clients using his/her own net-
work or a big-branded business card? How many people
were on the pursuit team? Is this person “involved” in
selling but really more of a subject matter expert?
When recruiting a
partner, you need to
look beyond the rev-
enue figures printed
on the resume and un-
derstand how that rev-
enue was attributed.
Bottom line, helping
to facilitate sales is
nice, but a candidate
who doesn’t originate
sales and own the cli-
ent relationship is not
well positioned as a
partner. Being around
the sale is not the same driving and owning the sale.
2. DOWNPLAYING THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE FIT
Most of us have probably been burned at one time
or another by a blind date—or perhaps to put it in
modern context, a dating app. You are matched with
someone who looks great because their interests,
values and background seem to align well with your
own. Then you go on the date and learn that despite
all of these qualities, other personality traits are unappealing or downright repellent.
In a similar vein, a candidate may come with a track
record of experience, industry knowledge and a great
reputation. But if that person doesn’t gel with your
firm’s culture, it is unlikely to work out over the long
term. A candidate’s cultural fit should take into account everything from business values, management
style and instinct to community commitment, personality and trustworthiness. Yet, culture fit can be vastly
Five mistakes consulting firms make with their most critical hires
B Y PAUL MARANVILLE