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How to accelerate the return on investment (ROI)

If that £100,000 was then withdrawn and you were asked for another £150,000 how you would feel?

You might question whether you had made the right decision to take the £100,000 in the first place. You might also feel annoyed, frustrated and bewildered to have to pay 2 ½ times that amount for the privilege.

Well believe it or not, every time a newly appointed senior executive with a £100,000 salary doesn’t succeed, your overall cost is £250,000. Can you afford that sort of ROI on your valuable assets?

People are what make any organization successful, ignore them and fail to invest in them and you wave goodbye to any ROI.

All too often, the higher up an organization an individual progresses, the lower the level of investment and support. Newly appointed senior executives are often left to “sink or swim”. There is an assumption that they are already at the level required to effectively deliver what is required of them and they know how to do that. There is also an assumption that they therefore do not want or need any support.

These assumptions are what cost £250,000.

So what’s the alternative?

Firstly don’t assume, secondly, provide support and thirdly, do it from before day 1.

Michael Watkins, in his book The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels suggests this is a critical timeframe through which a newly appointed senior executive needs to have a support structure and a clear plan. There is key knowledge that needs to be acquired. There are key relationships that need to be built. There are key performance objectives that need to be agreed.

There are a number of strategies that need to be adopted to accelerate the successful transition of the newly appointed senior executive into their new company. The timely execution of these strategies accelerates your ROI. In simple terms the success of your newly appointed senior executive’s first 90 days impacts your bottom line.

So what are these strategies? Michael Watkins suggests there are 10 key strategies and when condensed down, they focus on 3 areas of learning, relationships and performance.

Newly appointed senior executives need to take the time to understand what they need to learn, how they need to learn it and how and when they need to apply the learning. All too often diving straight into action is the course adopted. Their need to be seen to be taking action often clouds their judgment. They take first impressions as the right ones and act on those. They fail to take adequate account of a range of opinions and information. They fail to put a learning plan in place and this lack of planning can lead to a lack of focus in the right areas at the right time.

The type and timing of learning can differ from company to company according to the situation that company is within their market e.g. the speed of action required for a newly formed company is different from that of a company in trouble. Learning about the past, present and future of the company will give a rounded picture of how the company got to where it is today, what the current state of play is and what the priorities are moving forward.

The value of creating and maintaining internal relationships is often what makes or breaks a newly appointed senior executive. People are what make any organization work.

When starting a new role finding out the movers and shakers, the cynics and fans is crucial in understanding what make the organization tick. Once again creating the time to meet a range of different people is key in the first few weeks and months. It’s the people that will tell you “how things get done around here”. It’s the people that will deliver new initiatives and ways of working. It’s the people that will help a newly appointed senior executive understand what needs to be done and what he/she needs to focus on short, medium and long term.

The direct relationships of team, peers and boss need to be the first priority. Next on the list should be indirect internal relationships of key people in associated functions or business areas. Another area, which can be useful, is that of external relationships. That includes suppliers, customers, competitors, strategic partners and respected business analysts, all of whom will have a view on how the company functions and to what degree changes needs to be made.


Employee Performance is the ultimate measure of success. How a newly appointed senior executive will be measured and on what they will be measured needs to be established from day 1. It is the responsibility of the new appointee to obtain clarity on the results expected and the method or standards by which they should achieved.

It is up to him/her to meet with their boss and be clear on 3, 6 and 12 months goals. Priorities need to be established and these need to be communicated across the organization in order that everyone understands how and on what the new appointee will be spending their time during the first few weeks/months. Cross organizational clarity is key to avoid misinterpretations, relationship difficulties and assumptions being made.

The first 90 days are critical to the successful transition of a newly appointed senior executive which, in turn, is critical to the achievement of a good ROI of that executive which ultimately makes a positive contribution to the bottom line.

The development and implementation of a clear learning plan, which focuses on knowledge, relationships and performance, is a key factor in the achievement of a good ROI. The adoption of the sink or swim mentality will not deliver a profitable ROI and at the end of the day a successful organization needs people that add value.

By: Beverley Hamilton

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