Thursday, December 16, 2010

When New Execs Disappear

We have all heard the following from a candidate in an executive search process: "I will be very accessible, open to listening and hearing ideas from everyone, especially in my first few months as I learn about the organization.". Then, after a few months on the job, employees witness a disappearing act. They never see the executive. The new hire seems to always be in meetings or traveling. They never seem to be around for informal conversations, such as in the cafeteria.

What can new executives do to avoid falling into this trap, where their people lose faith because they feel the new leader has disappeared? First, one must schedule informal conversation time; in other words, allot time in your schedule for walking around a bit. Second, remind your administrative assistant not to become too overprotective about your calendar. Third, use email to solicit and invite ideas, input, and feedback, as well as to provide frequent updates on key initiatives. Fourth, make sure you stay in touch throughout your travels. Finally, hold "office hours" like a professor, where folks can just drop in without an appointment.

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