Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 15th 2014 Contents JUNE 15 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | SBG15
Change is descending upon the
global economic and business
environment at a merciless
pace. Today, executives have
to consistently operate with a
strong sense of urgency, man-
age risks in an appropriate manner, and drive
the growth strategies that will sustain the
In fact, when you are recruited as a C-level
hire, it is very rare that you are hired just to
maintain the status quo. Instead, you are typ-
ically recruited to help your function and your
company achieve the next level of performance.
This will generally require choices on how you
will allocate your time and face your new job.
Best practice suggests there are three fun-
damental resources that executives must man-
age during a transition: time, talent, and rela-
tionships. Focusing on these three resources
can help you cut through the inherent bustle
of an executive transition and unlock your
Time: The flood of issues crossing an incom-
ing executive's desk can be overwhelming. As
an incoming or newly promoted executive,
you need to develop a clear sense of your
organisation's priorities while keeping the
existing engines running. We often hear about
60--80-hour work weeks at the outset as
incoming executives get pulled into meetings
in order to get a handle on the issues.
As an incoming executive, you generally
have to address four issues to garner better
control of your time:
1. Establish a realistic timeframe, and dis-
pense with the myth of the first 90 or 100
days. Unless you're addressing an emergency,
this is usually not enough time to drive mean-
ingful results on the important things. Often,
we find incoming executives---for example, a
CIO joining a retailer in June and having to
focus on e-commerce through the Christmas
and other peak seasons (Easter or summer
sales)---pulled in other directions before moving
more broadly to frame an IT agenda.
2. Establish relationships with key stake-
holders. Influential and good relationships
with key stakeholders make it easier to move
your agenda forward. It's critical to spend time
establishing a personal, one-on-one connection
and hearing their concerns and needs. So, in
the initial months, listening tours take time.
3. Establish three to five key priorities, and
make some tangible progress on them in the
first six months of your tenure. Make these
priorities---and their value to the organisation,
ready by succinctly framing them.
4. After 30--45 days, take an audit of where
your team's time is going, and decide what
must be stopped. Kill the unproductive meet-
ings or the less important projects that drain
you and your best talent so you can focus
more productively on your most important
Time is your one irrecoverable resource, so
it is imperative to prioritise and guard it during
Talent: No senior executive could do their
job alone, and you are dependent on your new
team to deliver results from day one. Generally,
executives have to address a talent agenda
with the following four items fairly quickly
after a transition:
1. Get the right people in the right seats.
This can entail assessing the inherited staff
and recruiting or reassigning staff to effectively
deliver key priorities.
2. Establish a high-performing leadership
"team." Often, incoming executives inherit
broken organisations and teams with each
direct report driving isolated initiatives. Reset-
ting these behaviours and establishing a team
can be vital to delivering key priorities.
3. Set a talent development agenda. You
want to get the best out of your people and
build a competitive organization. To do so
may require a broad, talent-development agen-
da---from training to coaching key staff, rotating
some people into key development positions,
and developing succession plans. Showing a
strong commitment to talent early can help
retain and motivate staff.
4. Design your organisation for the future.
The organisation you inherit is often designed
for the previous leader. It is important to design
the organisation to best serve you as well as
the future needs of your company.
Given that talent is key to your success, you
are likely to spend between a half day and a
full day each week to execute your talent agen-
da. Remember, you are as good as your people
allow you to be.
Relationships: New executives have to foster
relationships with a wide range of stakeholders
during their transitions. Dialogues with stake-
holders can shape priorities, and good rela-
tionships make it easier to move forward on
key priorities. Drawing from experiences and
case studies, the unhappiest executives are
vexed by relationship issues. Thus, establishing
good relationships is vital to transition success,
and again, it can take up considerable time.
But this is not to be seen as a burden. It
is imperative for executives and, in fact, man-
agers to develop and exercise the skills of rela-
Good working relationships give us several
other benefits: our work is more enjoyable
when we have good relationships with those
around us. Also, people are more likely to go
along with changes that we want to implement,
and we're more innovative and creative.
What's more, good relationships give us
freedom: instead of spending time and energy
overcoming the problems associated with neg-
ative relationships, we can, instead, focus on
growth and performance opportunities.
Fortunately, there are a wide range of tools
available today to help executives develop
influence strategies and assess the needs, per-
sonalities, and communication styles that are
effective with other stakeholders to accelerate
The new executive will need to further
explore the use of these tools and the benefits
that can be derived.
Conclusion: Effectively managing time, tal-
ent, and relationships can help you accelerate
the creation of a focused agenda and realistic
execution plans that enhance the likelihood
of a successful transition. Remember, success
and/or failure will be judged through the expec-
tations of your board of directors.
Jai Leladharsingh is an independent lec-
turer and researcher. His email is
Time, talent, relationships
Tools for the new executive
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