In this recent blog, I made the case for being a succesful leader for your new hire by having a transitional leadership plan in place. Below are best practices I’ve witnessed bosses do to set a newly hired or promoted leader up for success in their new role transition.
Number 1: Provide clear and thorough role expectations.
You know better than the new leader what they need to do and how they need to behave to be successful. Don’t assume the interviews covered everything in as much depth as they need to know. My Rise Up role transition coaching process includes a thorough discussion of the leadership behaviors most critical to the success of the role. 100% of the time, this level of detail was not provided in the selection process. Feedback from my clients is that this was an extremely valuable discussion that provided a level of clarity to help them align with their boss’s expectations and the culture.
Number 2: Anticipate big challenges and potential pitfalls.
Talk about what could go wrong now and often. This gives the emergent leader a chance to build a plan to mitigate failure or minimally unnecessary mistakes. By you bringing this up, it gives the leader permission to talk about what may concern them and inspire them to want to bring their concerns forward vs. holding back for fear of looking incompetent or insecure.
Number 3: Zero in on stretch development goals right away.
Assess the new leader’s skills and behaviors that the new role will demand. Then do a gap analysis of what is expected and what they have yet proven your abilities in. What is their stretch? Count on there being at least a few things that they will need to pay attention to developing. Then put some thought into planning exactly how they are going to learn about these new areas and ask them to build these actions into their weekly routine. Few new skills will come without some effort, time and practice and rationalizing that they are too busy with transition activities is certain to create a bigger development gap by waiting.
Number 4: Allow time and resources for learning.
Since the transitioning leader’s plate is usually overflowing during the first few months figuring out the company, products, culture etc., accellerators for their learning via a mentor or a coach. A mentor or coach can provide them with the safety to explore the new behaviors and skills since they are still working to create a positive reputation for themselves. And be sure to sanction the time it will take for them to dedicate to all of this learning. It will only help them achieve better results.
Number 5: Enable connections with key stakeholders.
Point out the key players in the organization or even the community if appropriate, that are critical to their success. Set up a schedule for the first week to enable them to meet as many people as possible as easily as possible. Pave the way for them to make personal connections with the top leaders. Collaborate with them on the focus of conversations they should be having. The more you facilitate this at the start, the faster the new leader can begin to know how to collaborate with those they will work with as well as feel a part of the company community.
Number 6: Frequently calibrate priorities.
In today’s 24x7, always plugged in world, keeping up with the volume of information and communication is a challenge for everyone. It is exacerbated for transitioning leaders with the additional amount of knowledge they need to pick up and pressure to deliver early wins. Periodically reviewing and resetting priorities with the transitioning leader will help them stay on track to the most important goals. Taking the lead on this is really helpful because many times, a leader falls into “super-hero” mode and have an unrealistic capacity of what they can accomplish.
Number 7: Understand the new leader’s motivations and desired rewards.
Each of us have emotional needs and rewards we seek from our work. Be clear what motivates your transitioning leader. While you can’t be 100% responsible for their happiness, it is widely researched and known that a major boost to engagement is determined by how well our emotional needs are met. Develop a partnership early on with your new leader about how you can play a role in their engagement and check in on how they are doing with this periodically as they get more settled as these needs may shift.
Number 8: Systematic method to monitor progress.
Schedule weekly 1:1’s with your transitioning leader to monitor their progress on the small tasks and challenges. Keep these meetings religiously. Conduct a strategic review of how they are meeting your expectations at 30/60 and 90 days and then quarterly thereafter through the first year. Course corrections are easier to make when you catch them early.
Number 9: Provide timely and honest feedback.
The insecurity of staring a new role exists for even the most confident and experienced of leaders. You can provide a great deal of reassurance by providing feedback regularly about how the leader is doing to provide them reassurance as well as ideas for improvement. Be observant of how other’s are perceiving them. They may not be reading their impact as quickly as you can. Encourage your new leader to do some stakeholder interviews after a few months to directly seek input on the way other’s perceive them so far.
Number 10: Be supportive of the whole person.
Recent Human Resource researchers find that 80% of new hires decide to stay with the company within 6 months. There are definitely boundaries to manage, but many transitioning leaders are under more stress than they either show or will tell you. A few sincerely offered “How are you feeling?” questions and supportive ear can go a long way to reminding them why they took this job and why they should stay.
Don't let your new hire, or newly promoted leader do the old "sink-or-swim," make sure you have a role-transition process in place. Download our free expert guide on smooth leadership transitions here based on the RISE UP model.
What best practices do you use when guiding a new hire or promoted leader? Tell us below!