A marriage made in heaven or hell?

2004

New political leaders are given 100 days to prove themselves upon taking office. So are transitioning executives. But transition is expensive and risky. Whilst the executive is learning the ropes he is consuming value.

It takes an average of 6.2 months for an executive to break even. Many surveys agree that between a third and half of new hires fail, another shows that more than half of employees regret accepting a job immediately after joining an organisation and another that a quarter of employees have voluntarily left a job within a month because the job/organisation failed to live up to expectation.

Somewhat surprisingly transition is a major blind spot. Fewer than one in five (18 per cent) of organisations interviewed for our latest report 'Maximising the Return on Talent' were 'good' at it. With recruitment budgets spiralling as the talent wars reheat, transition management makes better sense than ever.

Rethinking talent acquisition is the first step. A typical recruitment process is very flirtatious with both parties in sales mode, presenting only their best sides to consummate the deal. After the ink dries on the contract reality sinks in and cracks start appearing.

Effective recruitment replaces sales with due diligence. Once interest has been ignited both parties vet each others credentials and expectations to ensure the fit is right.

After a candidate joins, induction process is replaced by transition management. Induction is 'done to' an employee and often fails to consider his needs. Transition management approaches the challenges of transition from organisational and employee perspectives.

At the organisational level, typical programmes include:
(i) auditing existing induction processes to identify strengths and weaknesses
(ii) implementing an education programme to explain the different roles played by line managers, HR and transitioning executives
(iii) assigning a coach, mentor or buddy to new hires
(iv) ensuring the executive and line manager co-design a First 100 Days plan within three weeks of the executive joining and
(v) requiring the executive to prepare a report which feeds back on programme effectiveness and also provides valuable consultancy advice by asking the executive to view the organisation through 'a fresh pair of eyes' to identify opportunities for improvement.

At the executive level, transition recognises that each case is unique. An executive programme involves:
(i) diagnosing the specific situation the executive is facing e.g. turnaround vs. new venture
(ii) evaluating the executive's skills and experience to identify which aspects of the role will be easy and which hard (iii) requiring executive and line manager to co-develop and sign off a First 100 Days Plan agreeing objectives, strategy and success measures and
(iv) reading the politics and pinpointing the power players to identify supporters and saboteurs.

Simple yet effective, transition management accelerates the point at which new executives add value, reduces hiring mistakes and minimises the stress of transition for employer and employee.

About The Author

Susannah Pringle
Susannah Pringle

Susannah Pringle is the co-founder and a partner of TalentMax, the talent and career management consultancy.