The importance of support for executive changes

Millán Álvarez - Miranda Navarro

Changes are undoubtedly the most difficult moments of executives’ careers, the time when they need more and better help to make them good achievers. In general, their success or failure in the first few months in a new job is an indicator of their future success or failure. “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression” (Mark Twain).

For companies, on the other hand, it’s essential for new executives to start being successful soon. Virtually all big companies are good at recruiting and orienting new employees. However, although one might assume that they are integrating into their new positions and organizations well, this may, in fact, not be the case. Market data reveal that 40% of leaders in new jobs fail within 18 months of taking up their new responsibilities.

The first phase is crucial, and it is essential for integration to be agile. Although the company must be understanding and flexible, it’s essential for new employees to have the right attitude. Understanding the company and what is expected of them, being familiar with the company’s culture and knowing what they can contribute as leaders are the first step towards building alliances with company teams and other managers, and these vital goals must be achieved in the first few weeks in order to achieve early results.

Market data reveal that 40% of leaders in new jobs fail within 18 months of taking up their new responsibilities

Consequently, it’s becoming more and more common in the US and northern Europe to take a transition program, or for one to be provided by the company’s HR department when a new executive arrives. Both executives and companies are realizing that having a transition plan helps ensure the success of new executives and speeds up the attainment of new leaders’ goals.

3D transition model

The move to a new company must be planned and managed from a global outlook. The 3D model recommended by Esade can increase the chances of success in three essential steps: diagnosis of scenario, definition of strategy, and deployment of action plans.

The diagnosis of scenario includes an assessment of the challenges facing the executive, an analysis of the type of change they are going through, and an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, and their energies and leadership style. It also includes planning a good start and diagnosing the new business, appraising the company’s culture and identifying the main opportunities, threats and priorities.

The definition of strategy entails pinpointing the main components of the strategy, the deployment of key objectives and results, and the implementation of an effective review process, ending with the design of an agile company.

The deployment of action plans consists of developing the team, managing the stakeholders and creating alliances and, also the leadership of change, accelerating the transformation of the business, the removal of barriers and being successful in the short term.

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Education to ensure successful transition

The 3D model is the starting point for the Executive Transitions program and is based on the experience of recent years working with hundreds of executives going through change, in close cooperation at IMD with Professor Michael Watkins, author of Los primeros 90 días.

Preparing for change makes it easier to understand the respective challenges, the manager’s leadership style, their strengths and weaknesses and how they fit into the new organization, all of which facilitate a good start in the new job.

Diagnosing the state of the new business or unit, re-establishing and deploying the strategic focus to drive its growth, reflecting on how to incorporate agile components into the organizational design and developing a high-flying team are all essential factors that must be analyzed in order to ensure success.

Despite this and regardless of the high cost of this type of recruitment for the companies and the people involved, managerial changes usually focus on transmitting the values, culture and goals of the company to the new recruit in the hope that being plunged into their new circumstances will be enough to ensure that they fit in with the organization.

However, success also often requires introspection by the new leader to see how their experience, style and skills can be polished to enable them to slot perfectly into the new job and successfully forge a new link in their career.

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