Moving to a new leadership post can be challenging. Taking control of your integration process from day one will give you a much better chance of achieving a successful transfer, says Susan Peppercorn, writing for Harvard Business Review.
Recent research shows that up to half of new leader transitions fail within the first two years – even if the job appears to be the perfect fit. You can buck that trend by choosing an active route to establishing yourself, rather than relying on standard, in-house onboarding processes.
Peppercorn is an executive coach and speaker who has guided countless leaders through important career transitions, including some individuals who thought they would breeze into their dream role; the reality was much tougher.
Here are some of her strategies to steer you through the initiation period:
1) Work out the important people to connect with in your organisation. Instinct will draw you upwards to your direct manager and downwards to those you manage. Take time to also look laterally across the whole organisation to identify people on your own level in other departments who would be good to build relationships with too. Get to know those people face-to-face.
2) Identify all your stakeholders – outside as well as in. If your new job is an outward-looking role, for instance, additional stakeholders could be suppliers, customers, business partners and industry opinion leaders.
3) Ask them all questions. Find out about their business issues, the scope for partnership between departments, ideas for effective collaboration and strong communication, any historical issues to consider, and other people who could be usefully involved.
4) Discuss key points with your boss early on. Talk about the top goals you envisage achieving in your first year and check whether these coincide with the company vision and strategy plan. Which tasks do they see as most critical and what would they consider a successful outcome? How should you keep them updated on your progress? What other measures can you take that will contribute towards the overall success of the business?
5) Take advantage of the “hero” effect. After investing time and effort in selecting you, the boss clearly thinks you are the best candidate for the post and will have high hopes for outstanding results. Underline that belief by flagging up as many positive achievements as you can during the early months of the job. Selecting tasks that can produce quick, operational or financial wins is a better bet than taking on something over-ambitious or risky that could fail.
6) Get your team on side quickly. Clear communication and respect for established company culture are essential if you are going to win trust. Explain your vision with passion – including the most challenging bits – and outline how you hope to achieve it with their support. Recognise team members’ knowledge – especially those who have been with the business a long time – and invite them to share their thoughts and opinions with you.
Starting a new job is an exciting time, but it can have its pitfalls. Taking steps to manage your initial transition well will ease you into your new role more efficiently and successfully.