Take your in­vest­ment in new ex­ec­u­tives one step fur­ther

No­rah Breekveldt dis­cusses the num­bers that may scare you – the high rate of fail­ure in ap­point­ing lead­ers.

Business First - - CONTENTS - By No­rah Breekveldt

Businesses in­vest heav­ily in at­tract­ing and hir­ing the best ex­ec­u­tives the mar­ket has to of­fer. How­ever, de­spite the best re­cruit­ment or search pro­cesses, suc­cess is by no means guar­an­teed and many new hires don’t make it – in fact around 40 per cent of new hires de­rail in the first 18 months – that is, they are de­moted, are fired, re­signed or failed to be as suc­cess­ful as ex­pected. Can you imag­ine a busi­ness in­stalling some new tech­nol­ogy or in­vest­ing in a piece of highly com­plex equip­ment and ac­cept­ing a 40 per cent fail­ure rate? Yet many or­gan­i­sa­tions seem to ac­cept this poor track record with its lead­er­ship as­set.

Some of the com­mon rea­sons why new ex­ec­u­tives fail to meet ex­pec­ta­tions in­clude: • They be­come swamped in op­er­a­tional prob­lems or fire-fight­ing at the ex­pense of fo­cus­ing on longer term strate­gic, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment or lead­er­ship pri­or­i­ties • They un­der­es­ti­mate the chal­lenge of com­ing in as an out­sider and over-rely on their pre­vi­ous suc­cesses to gain ac­cep­tance • They fail to en­gage their team or ef­fec

tively turn around dis­grun­tled staff • They lack un­der­stand­ing about the in­for­mal power bases and de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses in the new part­ner­ship • They ap­ply strate­gies that were suc­cess­ful with a pre­vi­ous em­ployer, but fail to gain trac­tion in the new or­gan­i­sa­tion • They are un­able to adapt to the new cul­ture, dif­fer­ent de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses and dis­tinc­tive lead­er­ship styles of in­di­vid­u­als in the new busi­ness • They be­come cap­tive to the views of the loud­est voices. As a re­sult they don’t build the right foun­da­tions, fail to lis­ten to the right people and so get limited trac­tion. When lead­ers de­rail their prob­lems can al­most al­ways be traced to com­plex chains of events that de­vel­oped early in their ap­point­ment. The is­sue is not sim­ply one of poor in­ter­nal in­duc­tion or on-board­ing strate­gies in the first

few weeks. Ca­reers still get de­railed even with the best early in­duc­tion plans. De­rail­ment emerges typ­i­cally over a six to twelve month pe­riod as forces con­spire against the leader and the im­pacts of mis­judge­ments or poor de­ci­sions start be­ing re­alised.

The con­se­quences of these fail­ures can be cat­a­strophic for the in­di­vid­ual and costly for the firm. Re­plac­ing a top ex­ec­u­tive costs con­ser­va­tively five times the pre­vi­ous in­cum­bent’s to­tal cash com­po­nent. There is also a se­ri­ous waste of talent in the firm, the firm wastes costs in fix­ing bun­gled mat­ters and it must deal with the im­pli­ca­tions of highly val­ued staff leav­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion as a re­sult of poor lead­er­ship be­hav­iour.


Firms can sub­stan­tially in­crease the ef­fec­tive­ness of new lead­ers and min­imise the risk of de­rail­ment by equip­ping them with re­sources and sup­port that max­imises their in­te­gra­tion.

In­vest­ment in the in­te­gra­tion of lat­eral hires is a pri­or­ity for the lead­er­ship agenda of any firm. Smart and suc­cess­ful ex­ec­u­tives need sound ad­vice and a con­fi­den­tial sound­ing board to en­sure they not only meet ex­pec­ta­tions, but ex­cel in ev­ery­thing they do. Just like an elite ath­lete who works with a sports coach to de­velop their ca­pa­bil­i­ties fur­ther, the best lead­er­ship talent needs per­son­alised, tai­lored, ob­jec­tive ad­vice to en­sure they in­crease their bench strength around their core ca­pa­bil­i­ties, work around blind spots and recog­nise po­ten­tial blun­ders or mis­steps that can stall or de­rail their ca­reer.

Many leading com­pa­nies are now recog­nis­ing that in­vest­ing in in-depth on-board­ing sup­port in the first three to six months of a new hire’s ap­point­ment as a stan­dard part of their se­lec­tion ap­proach cre­ates busi­ness value, pro­tects their lead­er­ship as­set and min­imises people in­vest­ment risks. New hires who have been pro­vided with proac­tive sup­port ac­cel­er­ate their learn­ing curve and be­come fully pro­duc­tive in a shorter pe­riod of time, can quickly en­gage their teams to deliver ex­cep­tional per­for­mance, and build ef­fec­tive in­flu­enc­ing skills with key peers, cus­tomers and stake­hold­ers. They are also able to re­tain high value in­ter­nal staff who may be at risk of leav­ing, and min­imise the risk of de­stroy­ing team per­for­mance through poor team lead­er­ship and hav­ing a shal­low suc­ces­sion plan for fu­ture lead­er­ship roles.


All new lead­ers re­quire a proac­tive and sup­port­ive ap­proach to their in­te­gra­tion in or­der to suc­ceed and ex­cel. Leading firms recog­nise that in­vest­ing in proac­tive sup­port min­imises the risk of out­right fail­ure, stems the po­ten­tial loss of key staff and clients due to mis­steps that could have been avoided and en­sures the new leader be­comes pro­duc­tive and flour­ishes in the short­est pos­si­ble time.

1Ex­ec­u­tive In­te­gra­tion, Equip­ping Tran­si­tional Lead­ers for Suc­cess, D. Rid­dle, Cen­tre for Cre­ative Lead­er­ship (CCL)

2Watkins, M., The First 90 Days, Har­vard Busi­ness School Press, 2003, p. 1

3Top Grad­ing, Brad Smart

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.