A second mitigating action is supporting the ramp-up of the new leader once he or she is on board. One might wonder, “If I hire an “A” player, shouldn’t they be able to hit the ground running? After all, isn’t that why we selected an experienced leader in the first place?” The reality is that even “A” players require a period of time to fully ramp-up. The Alexcel/Institute of Executive Development 2008 “Executive Transitions Market Study” reports that “92% of respondents said it takes new executives more than 90 days (to reach productivity) and 62 percent said more than 6 months.” Even after making it through the first 90/180 days, other studies suggest that 40% of new leaders fail within the first 18 months. Ramping up quickly and successfully has never been more challenging, with pressure to hit financial growth or expense reduction targets, effectively manage restructurings and run lean with fewer people and resources. What are some of the challenges facing a new leader today?
• Getting clear on expectations
• Building peer relationships
• Prioritizing attention to today’s details vs. a strategy for tomorrow
• Building a team
• Introducing and managing the right amount of change
Clearly, too much is at stake today to run the risk that the newly hired leader will quickly and successfully ramp up with a “sink or swim” approach. What should organizations do to increase the return on upgrading talent?
• Identify a senior internal mentor who will teach and sponsor the recently hired leader.
• Engage an external coach who, in partnership with the mentor, will help the new leader monitor first impressions, leverage strengths, mitigate developmental areas, and understand expectations and priorities.
With risk management a critical matter for all organizations, proactively supporting the ramp-up of a new leader with coaching and mentoring should be a key step in the effort to upgrade talent.