This story profiles an experienced CIO who’s been there and done it in a medium sized firm. He was recruited to join a Fortune 100 company three times the size of his current firm. At first he was totally excited, but as the time to start approached he began to worry. His new team is four times larger, he has twice the number of direct reports, including two international regions, and one of the functional groups is in an area where he has almost no experience or knowledge. He has been hired to fix what top executives believed was a broken area and is under the gun to perform and perform quickly.
We’ve all been there
New in a role with high performance expectations, limited time to make an impact, and with extremely limited knowledge about team capabilities – competencies and skills, strengths, weaknesses, track record, style, etc.
In the past, when companies were centrally located, the task of gathering data on employees was much easier than it is today. In our current global environment, traditional approaches are becoming outdated.
Four traditional ways leaders discover what they need to know about the team
Leaders observe the performance of direct reports in the work area, at meetings, on calls, and more. This gives some insights, but can be very time consuming and a logistical nightmare when multiplied by global operations. And, what about the people who report to the direct reports?
Individual video conferences
Leaders conduct structured video conferencing interviews with each direct report. This is logistically easier, but limits the validity of the information since it is not actually observed behavior. And it’s awkward to go through a checklist for skills, knowledge and behaviors expected for the role in a video conference.
Employee file review
Leaders can review each direct report’s file to learn the experiences and views of other managers. Usually, this is simply the static annual performance appraisal with comments and a few letters of praise or otherwise. The problem is that everything is based on the biased views of the previous manager. And, if the new leader is replacing someone who was not viewed as successful, is this a good idea?
Ask for feedback
New leaders can ask other people to share their views about each member. Opinions from internal and external customers, senior management, co-workers, and more could be asked to provide insight and details on performance; basically a verbal multi-rater assessment. This method is time intensive, and can be logistically challenging.
Most leaders try a mixture of these approaches to “optimize” the logistics and reduce bias. At the end of the process though, these approaches take a lot of time and have questionable validity as the basis to make key decisions and with confidence.
There is a better way
We recommend starting with a clearly defined 30-50 attribute competency model for each role and asking each member to conduct a self-assessment. This is an ideal starting point for meaningful, specific, actionable conversations. It provides a way to learn what each team member thinks of themself in terms of knowledge and skills. Most importantly, when discovering the performance capability, potential, or gaps of the new team; starting with their own opinions demonstrates interest and respect.
SkillNet helps successful companies provide an easy to use competency modeling tool with self and multi-rater assessment features. We can also collect and manage internal and external certification data.
Please share how this compares to your experience. We welcome your comments and ideas!
Our next post will describe other ways for the new leader to get a running start in terms of knowing who is on the team and developing his new staff.
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