Focus on HR Assuming Leadership: The First 100 Days

By Hedley Lawson
All too often, individuals who are employed in or promoted to new leadership positions in a company have little or no plan when assuming their new role. Most often, assessing the overall company and customer landscape is left to a series of not well thought out or planned activities, or simply continuing the status quo.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group took a panel of corporate Chief Executive Officer’s and asked them to describe their first months in office: what they intended to do, what they did, what they regretted doing, and what they regretted not doing. The CEO’s were then asked to re-evaluate and come up with a new plan they would use if they were to start over in their current role. Here is a few of the key actions that were consistently mentioned in assuming any new leadership role:

• Assess the company’s leadership team and complete your initial round of changes within the first 30-days. These CEO’s believe that putting the right people in the right positions and with the right organizational architecture quickly was essential to redirecting the company’s focus and rebuilding the company’s momentum.

• Communicate your vision of a better lab and make sure employees understand how you will get there. A new leader should quickly and effectively communicate to the organization what will be done, why it is necessary, how the company and its customers will benefit from the changed course, and how each person in the company can be an important contributor to change and success.

• Meet key salespeople on the frontline and all major customers, and ask them what the company should be doing. Talking often to people on the front line and to customers provides the balance that is essential to developing and executing successful business strategies and achieving financial and human capital goals.

• Pay attention to personal habits. That includes how early you arrive for work, how you relate to people in the hallway, how you allocate your time, and how thoroughly you prepare for meetings. A strong and passionate work ethic is infectious.

• In a turnaround situation, stop all discretionary spending until you have determined your business priorities. An effective leadership strategy is to rein in discretionary spending while, at the same time, taking a broader view of the company and developing a fresh plan to buoy financial and organizational performance.

• Learn how the business creates profitability: understand leverage points and develop simple reporting metrics. Measure the most relevant performance metrics of the company. Avoid analysis paralysis of countless reports that add little if any value to the business. Simple basics like Profit and Loss (and the dynamics of the P/L), the Balance Sheet (especially the inventory component for optical labs), Cash Flow, Accounts Receivable, Order Turnaround and other key metrics should be known and communicated to your key staff at least monthly.

• Understand the problems that reside on the balance sheet and communicate them early. Make sure that key people in the organization know how to read a balance sheet and understand its dynamics. And then ensure they know how to manage with the balance sheet in mind when discussing or taking business decisions.

• Develop a master plan for all of your communications and make sure your leadership team follows your plan crisply and consistently. A consistent, pre-determined communications plan will add greatly to the engagement of everyone in the business and reduce or eliminate the presence of uncertainty or rumors in lieu of fact.

Hedley Lawson is a contributing editor for Business Essentials and monthly contributor to VisionMonday.

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Labtalk May/June 2018