You have successfully completed an exhaustive search for a VP of Operations. The challenge was finding the right skill set that can offer value to a talented younger team. You feel confident the person has the skills and is aligned with your business goals. You also are confident in the vetting that took place to make sure it was a good fit.
Meticulous preparation has taken place to make sure the work space is organized and all the administrative tasks are completed efficiently around their arrival. Everything is set. What could possibly go wrong? How about everything! Getting off on the wrong foot is often hard to overcome.
Studies show that companies are not very good at setting a new executive on the right path. A recent study published through the Harvard Business Review reveals that almost 70% of the time when a person fails, they do so because of fit issues as opposed to lack of competence. New executives are often left to figure out the finer points of organizational culture, interpersonal dynamics, work place norms and practices on their own. Here are 6 steps to get off on the “right foot”.
1. Create a questionnaire and get a good understanding of how the new leader’s previous company differs in areas of culture and work place practices. This will help the person better understand how to make a clean assimilation.
2. Facilitate meetings between the new leader and stakeholders. You can impact the alignment of these relationships by getting them set down the right path.
3. Be intentional and write down all important expectations that will impact how performance will be measured. We often have “unspoken” or assumed expectations.
4. Break down performance expectations into a map for the person to follow for the first year. Otherwise they may seek change too quickly or they maybe be too hands-off and fail to earn the respect of key team members.
5. Ineffective decision making, disagreements over business strategy and failing to make key alliances can often lead to failure. Giving a new executive a “sponsor” peer to assist with navigating the organization is a good idea.
6. Look under the covers and deal with any “time bombs” that were left by incumbent. These are problems that have not been handled that will likely blow up under the new executive.
More information from the HBR article “Onboarding Isn’t Enough” can be found at: https://hbr.org/2017/05/onboarding-isnt-enough