Competing Through People  | August 2014 Edition
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Effective Leadership Transitions


"The actions you take during the first three months in a new job will largely determine whether you succeed or fail."

Michael Watkins

The First 90 Days


With reorganization and retirements on the rise, leaders transitioning into new roles are also increasing.  I have seen examples of successful, smooth transitions but also ones that were fraught with bumps and miscues.


Ensuring a successful leadership transition starts before the public announcement is made and continues into the first few months in a new role.  In the present business climate, the honeymoon period for a key leader is very short. The critical path to success in a new job is rapidly identifying what is most critical in the short term, while simultaneously laying the foundation for long-term success.


Research has shown that 4 out of 10 executives fail in the first 18 months in a new position.  Many of these derailments can be traced back to the first months on the job and are often due to:

  • Using old learned behaviors in a role with different requirements
  • Failure to build an effective team
  • Failure to establish clear expectations with a new boss or board
  • Failure to build positive relationships with peers
  • Not following through and achieving results

I have found that an Accelerated Leadership Transition process helps new leaders avoid these derailers by systematically addressing key success factors in a series of specific action plans.  The actions are built into a 30, 60, 90 day Success Plan consisting of the following elements:

  • A Learning Plan:  Identify and build mission-critical leadership competencies
  • A Leadership Plan:  Assess and build a strong supporting team
  • A Relationship Plan:  Establish positive working relationships with the boss and other key stakeholders
  • A Business Plan:  Achieve business results with short- and long-term action plans

The result is that the leader enters a new role with everything she needs to succeed.  Quick wins are achieved because learning is accelerated, expectations are clear, positive working relationships are established with key players, and a strong supporting team is in place.

For more details on Accelerated Transition, check out my Whitepaper on the process.


Crafting Top-Notch Plans for 2015 and Beyond
Strategic, Annual Business and Talent Planning

Wow.  I'm starting to work with clients on their end-of-the-year strategic planning and annual business planning for 2015.  Seems like planning and forecasting start earlier ever year.

My guidance to clients as they begin their planning falls into two areas:
  1. The design and facilitation of the process itself, and,
  2. Focus as much on deploying the plans as much as creating with a special emphasis on talent

I have seen many planning processes waste a lot of time and energy.  Those same processes tend to also create plans that fail to achieve expectations or are difficult to deploy.  There is a whitepaper on my website entitled Crafting the Best Strategic Plan Ever that outlines the following keys to success (and more).  These keys apply to strategic planning as well as to annul business planning.

  • Design, Design, Design.  The secret to effective planning is comprehensive preparation and design. Expert facilitation is key but even a top-notch facilitator will struggle to overcome a flawed design.
  • A Sprint Not a Marathon. Planning work takes time, but the time should be measured in days or weeks not months
  • Involve More than the Senior Team.  Include input from a diverse range of sources, particularly those not normally involved in business decisions. If you think you have all the answers at the top, you are typically wrong.
  • A Few Breakthrough Goals.  Many plans collapse under their own weight. Those that end up with a long list of goals and initiatives are the most likely not to get executed.
  • Embrace Constraints.  Future growth for almost any organization is going to come from innovation. Real innovation can come from embracing perceived constraints and turning them to your advantage.
  • Protect the Plan.  No plan is perfect. Every contingency can never be completely addressed. However, the right people and process can identify the potential threats to a plan, assess their likelihood and impact, and develop specific actions to address them.
  • Make it a Living Plan.  Planning should be an on-going process, not a one-time event. The Plan should be regularly reviewed  and adjusted based on the performance measures.

For it to be effectively deployed, the strategy or plan must be clear to every employee. They must know where the organization is headed and what their role is in getting it there. Leadership must also know if they have the right talent in the right roles doing the right things to drive the plans.   The key is the creation of a comprehensive deployment plan, using project and change management principles, with clear milestones, linkages, and accountabilities. 


If you'd like to learn more about Strategy Deployment for the 21st Century, go here.



What are You Up To?

New Webinar Series

Building a Strategy-Driven Organization: Leveraging Talent to Drive Market Performance


I've done a number of workshops and presentations over the years related to strategic talent management.  The basic foundation of these presentations is the growing body of research on the impact an organization's talent can have on growth, returns and customer perceptions.  These have always been very well received so I've decided to present them as a Webinar Series this fall.


More details to follow.  Here is the outline of the six part series

  1. Strategy-Driven Organization Development: Building the Talent-Market Performance Link

  2. Assessing and Building Your Organization's Capability

  3. Strategic Talent Management, Part 1: Leadership Development and Succession Management

  4. Strategic Talent Management, Part 2: Hire and Promote Slow, Fire Fast

  5. Leveraging Culture: Why Does Our Culture Suck and What Can We Do About It?

  6. Talent Management Derailers: Keys to Keeping Your Talent Train on Track

Upcoming Presentations
Living Your Mission, Vision and Values;  Strategy Deployment for the 21st Century
PHRA Annual Conference Workshop, October 8
In This Edition
Effective Leadership Transitions
Crafting Plans for 2015 and Beyond
What Are You Up To
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