Brief peers, direct reports and other key stakeholders on the role’s
purpose, expected outcomes, measurements and how they can offer
support. Carefully articulate how this position is different from
the past, particularly if it is a variant or broader version of a previous
role. Create a list of who should be informed and how they
Make sure the senior leaders advise the entire organization
about the appointment and expected benefits. Find every opportunity
to repeat the message. Constantly communicate the role’s
value proposition and its contribution to current goals. Be specific.
Get feedback from key stakeholders on the education campaign
between the first 30 to 60 days. Do they understand the mission
of the new executive? Are departments cooperating? Is anyone
withholding information for political reasons? Are there any roadblocks?
Schedule meetings to discuss projects and boundaries so
disagreements can be addressed and clarified before they lead to
conflict. Share the results with the newcomer and adjust the action
plan as needed.
Upper management should also be selling the position and
making sure laggards catch up and align. At times, pressure must
be applied to overcome resistance to working within the redesigned
structure, especially when the new position is carved out of
existing areas of responsibility.
The incoming executive needs to understand the values, decisionmaking
processes and best way to communicate within the
organization. HR can act as a trusted advisor or mentor for the
new executive, providing honest and accurate feedback, helping
the new executive adjust and normalizing their frustrations. Even
if they have successfully done something similar elsewhere, they
will likely need to adapt their approach.
This stage is about producing results and making sure they are visible.
If stakeholders don’t know what the new executive is doing,
they are likely to assume that he/she is not focused on the right
tasks, even if this is not the case.
Make sure incoming leaders are placed on the agenda at regularly
scheduled staff meetings so they can reinforce the mission and
give updates on their progress. Continue increasing their visibility
throughout the company.
The benefits of a robust, well-executed new executive/position
program are substantial:
■■ The original strategic need or tactical gap is addressed
■■ Companies can reap the rewards of the created position more
■■ The process can be used for other new positions in the future,
creating a competitive edge.
■■ The new position leader will become a valuable asset to the
company, ready to begin fresh assignments and take his/her
place in the succession planning process. n
Dr. Debra Hughes is a partner with RHR International LLP (Toronto).
EXECUTIVE NEEDS TO
AND BEST WAY TO
36 ❚ JANUARY 2015 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL