New Leader Integration - Improving the Odds of Success

Mr. Sterling Price
March 8, 2012 — 1,984 views  
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Most executive's success or failure is determined in the first 90 days. This is the critical time period when they establish themselves in their new role. The relationships they develop, the decisions they make, and the reputation they establish all play vital roles in determining the executive's future. In this economic environment, the success or failure of a new executive can have a significant impact on your company. Whether you're an operations or HR leader, you have to ask yourself some fundamental questions. What steps can I take to give this new executive the greatest chance of success? What information and tools can I put in his or her hands to increase the odds of success?

One of the best things you can do is to initiate a New Leader Integration process in the first few days of their employment. This methodology consists of exchanging critical information via meetings between a facilitator and various stakeholders in the organization. One of the first steps is to identify expectations and to communicate them to all parties. What does the new leader expect from their supervisor and subordinates? What do the supervisor and the subordinates expect from the new leader? A clear understanding of this information will go a long way to ensure the new leader is heading down the right path.

Another critical area is how communication takes place in the organization. Does the leader's supervisor prefer to communicate via email, phone or in person? Does the new leader like to meet with his or her employees in group settings or one-on-one? How have the employees been used to being communicated with and how often? The sooner these communication processes are understood and put in place, the sooner the new leader can positively impact the organization.

A third area of importance the new leader must understand is how decisions are made. Is the new leader's supervisor laissez faire, autocratic or something in between? Have the subordinates previously been involved in decisions affecting them or are they used to being told what to do? This doesn't mean the new leader has to follow the previous leader's procedure, but they have to know how things have been done in the past to determine how they should proceed to establish their own processes.

One of the most important areas that impacts long term success are the informal rules in an organization. How are things done? What are the unwritten rules that dictate behavior? What's acceptable behavior in one organization may be taboo in another. Understanding the informal rules in a company is critical for success. Every organization has its hidden land mines. Stepping on one of these early in a new job can have a lasting negative effect.

Lastly, the new leader has to understand what the priorities are for the position. This is different than expectations and they are tied directly to the new leader's early success or failure. The new leader must not only understand the organizational priorities, but how his/her supervisor views them. One of the quickest ways to fail at a new job is to focus on priorities that conflict with what your boss believes is important.

The new leader's integration process will bring all of these issues to light and provide clarification for everyone. Meetings are conducted by the faciliator with the new leader’s supervisor, peers, subordinates, and the new leader themselves.  The expectations, priorities, communication styles, decision making processes and the unwritten rules are identified and communicated up front. Having this information allows a new leader to hit the ground running. In today's challenging work environment, having this kind of intelligence in a new position is a huge advantage. Going through this with a new leader will significantly increase their chance of success, and that's certainly good for any company.

Mr. Sterling Price

CBIZ

Mr. Price, has over 30 years of experience in both HR executive and Organizational Development consulting roles. He focuses on executive coaching, change management, strategic planning, process improvement and organizational assessments.