Leadership, Leadership Transition

3 things HR should do before a new leader starts (but often don’t)

FishSuccessful on-boarding of leaders involves several areas of a business – a prominent one is HR.  Their involvement in the recruitment and on-boarding (or in-boarding) of leaders is crucial and across our coaching and research we regularly see three things that HR do in organisations with a highly successful on-boarding program.

Address performance issues prior

Frequently an business will wait for the new leader to come in to address the poor performers in the team. When performance problems are left for the new leader, either the new leader will identify the problem, quickly take action to discipline or remove the person and thus creating first impressions that are quite negative. Or the issue will remain untouched until it surfaces and causes problems potentially casting doubt over the new leader to make assessments of the people.

Either way, ignoring performance issues in the team places the new leader, someone who hasn’t established a reputation within organisation, in an unfair position of dealing with old problems that no one wanted to address.

Allow the team to air concerns

Another important HR intervention is the facilitation of a formal team meeting that provides a forum for the whole team to raise any issues or concerns that they may have about the transition process or the new leader.

We see this as especially helpful when the team feels strong loyalty to the departing leader and/or may be resistant to welcoming the new leader. By proactively addressing the issues rather than waiting for them to fester and potentially hinder the productivity of the team and the new leader, HR can have a large impact with a relatively small intervention.

Meet one-on-one with potentially problematic individuals

HR might want to take a more personal approach for specific, high-risk individuals. This is particularly important with individuals who have sensitive emotional issues surrounding the hire e.g. people who were passed over for the position.  In many of the transitions we work with this becomes a key issue.  The person passed over rarely survives and when they don’t they can cause significant distraction and angst to the new leader and team.

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