New Executive Transition Process

New Executive Transition Process

If you have a newly promoted or hired executive - congratulations. They are entering a time of intense action and learning. What they may not realize is that while they are excited by this new opportunity, those reporting to them probably have many unanswered questions about their vision and management style.

From the time a change in executives is announced, a series of events typically occurs. For the departing executive, emphasis shifts away from relationships and toward tasks that must be performed before leaving. As a result, communication may be strained. Important, time-critical decisions may be made hastily or postponed until the new executive assumes authority. Employees may feel abandoned and anxious about what will happen to them as well as the department. In cases where employees are relieved that an unwanted boss is leaving, they may have unrealistic expectations of what the new executive will be like.

In their new role, they need to learn not only the business, but also the strengths, weaknesses and expectations of employees. They will be grappling with a new situation and trying to understand the tasks and problems while assessing the organization and its requirements. Because they are learning, they may find themselves making decisions slowly and laboriously, focusing on short-range issues.

When unmanaged, executive transitions can result in role ambiguity, reduced communication and jockeying for position. Failure to recognize and deal with the complexities of a transition can lead to lower performance for an entire work group. Our New Executive Transition Process is designed to accelerate the process by which a new executive and his/her direct reports coordinate their efforts and develop effective business practices.

Although the Process can be useful for any newly placed or promoted executive and his/her direct reports, it is especially appropriate when:

  • management is expecting quick results
  • the incoming executive is unknown
  • breaks in organization continuity are unacceptable
  • there is little time for sorting and identifying problems
  • the executive has a hard act to follow
  • the promoted executive is facing significantly increased scope and has additional reports
  • there are significant style differences between the departing executive and the new executive.

We customize the process to meet your needs in the design phase. Typically we begin the process by conducting one-on-one interviews with the executive, their direct reports, and at times the departing executive. These interviews will identify issues that need to be addressed. Then we facilitate a one-day meeting to accomplish the following objectives:

  • develop and/or refine 90-day strategies
  • develop a greater understanding of each others' expectations for building and maintaining effective working relationships
  • clarify individual roles and responsibilities for interfacing with each other in the work group identify and discuss critical business issues
  • establish a common understanding and action plan for addressing identified issues and concerns

To be most effective, the meeting needs to be facilitated by someone outside of the organization so that more open communication can be fostered and biases eliminated. The facilitator will play a significant role in the design of the meeting in conjunction with the new executive. The need for follow-up meetings and interviews is discussed during the design process.


Ideally the interview process begins within a month of the executives arrival, and the group meeting held within 3 months of their arrival. This is soon enough to avoid biases from being formed, yet gives them some time to learn the basics and gain a broad understanding of the business needs.

Here are some examples of how this meeting helps.

  • The President of an Amoco business unit stated this was the most valuable meeting he had ever participated in because it enabled him to achieve in one day what might otherwise take 3-6 months.
  • The CFO of a national health care organization needed to significantly reduce accounts-receivable days and the time it took to close the books. Because he came in as part of an acquisition, there   was significant tension among employee groups of the different companies. We conducted individual interviews with the employees and quickly determined the underlying cause of the tension. After the group meeting, the newly merged teams stated there was a "significant difference in the way they worked together." Further, their goals of accounts-receivable and close of book days was achieved within three months.

If you have a newly placed or promoted executive or manager, our New Executive Transition Process can help them accelerate their transition while they mobilize an effective team to accomplish the business goals that are important to your organization's success.


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