Challenges of changing leadership

March 6, 2017


How do you as a leader quickly adapt to your new organization and win employee support and loyalty?



Changes in leadership is a challenge for most organizations and may create periods of uncertainty. As a new leader, there are some things you can do in order to quickly adapt to the business and gain the necessary support.

At Harvey Nash, we have daily contact with clients and candidates who face similar challenges and based on those conversations and our own experience we wanted to share with you some of our learnings here. For us, a successful recruitment is not solely based on whether we successfully identify and place a candidate. It is also not we alone, as a recruiting partner that may affect a successful outcome. We believe that a successful recruitment is the result of good cooperation between us and our client. Part of our assignment is to advise and act as a sounding board to both client and candidate, and help clarify the prerequisites of the role in the organization. Our ambition is to help ensure not only the right competencies and skills but also the best possible conditions for the new leader to succeed and thrive. Often this can be achieved by making sure that the new leader quickly adapts to the organization, is able to navigate appropriately, perform, feel that he/she contributes and feel a sense of belonging. “Take the time to sit down with as many people as possible in the beginning. Listen instead of being carried away by the urge to start ‘performing’ and delivering results right off the bat. That way, you help build trust and at the same time you get to know the organization faster, and ensuring you get your employees behind you in the things you need to accomplish” says Åza Skoog, MD Harvey Nash in the Nordics.

Get to know employees at all levels of the organization. New leadership can result in an organization characterized by scepticism and poor employee engagement. It is important that you as a new leader get to know the people in your business at all levels and from various teams. You should show that you clearly understand that the people in the organization play a vital role. You should genuinely care about and understand that it is the employees who create the conditions for business success and who will be responsible for securing the company’s vision. Being transparent and genuine builds trust and helps build engagement.

Create companionship. Inspire colleagues to participate and take ownership of their organization. Collegiality and team spirit is important to build trust and help get employees to work successfully together in teams toward common goals. Companionship can help create the energy and fellowship needed for employees to enjoy their work and want to stay on in the organization.

Identify key players. As a new leader in an organization, you have much to gain by identifying the employees who play a key role. That could be as an excellent sales executive, a particularly productive employee, someone with influence or someone who contributes with much in terms of innovative ideas and commitment. It takes a lot of time getting to know all the employees and identifying their individual skills but this is time well spent and will lay the groundwork for your strategy around resources and your future competency framework. It’s good to remind oneself that the resources and time placed on new recruitments should not exceed that of initiatives to secure already existing talents.

As a leader in a new role, you know that your success will depend on the people around you so do not be too eager to deliver from day one. Build long-term and take the time to get to know the company thoroughly and the people behind it. Go beyond the company as presented in the latest financial statements, business presentation or by your recruiting manager. The experience you carry with you is certainly invaluable, but it must also now be adapted and reviewed in a new context.

We can help you along the way!