Go on … Prove yourself during the ‘Honeymoon’

In most walks of life there is a ‘honeymoon’ period and, for many years, new leaders and senior executives have had their ‘First three months’. Pressure to deliver in today’s business environment may well have changed this.

Newly elected presidents, prime ministers, leaders in business and senior executives have, in the past, enjoyed this period of grace. It is still true that it usually takes about this period of time before various ‘reckonings’ come into play. In today’s market with ever more impatient investors, stakeholders, internal and external critics and the heightened focus on speedy results are making this hundred days seem more like a trial rather than a honeymoon. The advent and proliferation of 24-hour news and the, now ever present, social media do nothing to limit this trial atmosphere.

In today’s modern world most recruitment is thorough but, I would argue, fatally flawed. Too much effort is put into the ‘process’ of recruitment and precious little focus is put on the support mechanism, an appropriate induction, under development of a clear vision and strategy that is focused on a high degree of certainty for success in the new appointment.

Too often organisations are recruiting highflyers from other competing businesses, making a big PR exercise out of the appointment and then, mistakenly, sitting back whilst the new executive faces an almost impossibly steep climb whilst becoming increasingly disillusioned in his/her new position and pining for his or her old company!

In reality a clear plan and some form of coaching support that is put in place for the First 120 days and, crucially, its implementation, will see both the success and survival of the new incumbent and, just as importantly, the profitable development of the organisation concerned. BUT far too few organisations do this!

The failure rate of new appointees and promoted senior executives in both the corporate sector and not-for-profit is incredible:

  • The Harvard Business School reports that between 40% and 60% US Executives fail within 18 months of being newly appointed executives
  • A corporate executive board recruiting a roundtable survey discovered that 80% of new US executive appointments said that they did not have the necessary level of knowledge or skills to do their new job
  • A report by Right Management Consultants stated that circa 30% of newly appointed executives and managers not only fail in their new roles but leave within 18 months of appointment
  • Much of this data is reflected in UK and European experience and has been echoed by both my extensive experience as an Executive Coach and by my contacts with the high end recruiters

My own experience as an executive coach working with transitioning executives suggests that the accepted norm of a 100-day ‘honeymoon’ is now becoming more and more truncated.

Companies focus on the high profile business of recruiting. Understandably they recruit what they believe to be an ‘expert’ – someone who says they know what to do, have sold themselves in and are, quite naturally, expected to deliver. They are then left to it. Yes, both parties – the new executive and the employer alike pay lip service to induction – the company thinks they have invested enough and the new executive just wants to get on and make a difference.

Is it really about Rocking the Boat?

Those executives who believe it is all about making big changes are deluding themselves – yes, in the short-term it might look good and shake up the status quo but where is the medium to long-term view. Is it really about rocking the boat until the water comes over the sides or setting sail in a direction that others will follow including, crucially, stakeholders, employees and above all, clients or customers?

Even if the perceived ‘honeymoon’ period is allowed to take it’s course both parties are often subconsciously or even consciously waiting for it to end so that the ‘real’ business can begin – you may think this sounds nonsense – it is but in practice I have seen it played out time and again.

Whichever set of data and statistics one looks at – the results are, at best, unacceptable and, at worst, a disaster across large swathes of recruitment in the corporate world.

Repeating what you have done …

Many of the reasons for these failures are so obvious as to be almost absurd but businesses continue, time after time, to repeat the same mistakes – living out the old maxim:

If you always do what you’ve always done –

You will always get what you’ve always got

Which rings as true now as it has always done.

Alan Denton is an unconventional and daring executive coach & mentor. He provides a great balance of executive coaching & mentoring with deep experience as a leader & CEO of organisations. To read more of Alan’s insights and articles please Click Here