The Big Reasons New Executives Fail and What To Do About Them

Posted 03.04.2011

Exec-mountain If you've been around organizations for any length of time, you don't need a research study to tell you that newly hired or promoted executives often struggle in their new roles.  You've likely seen it with your own eyes.  A recent survey of 320 executives and talent management professionals conducted by the Alexcel Group and the Institute of Executive Development does a great job of explaining what makes executive transitions so difficult and what can be done to ease the path.

The big headline from the study is that over 20 percent of internal promotions and 30 percent of external executive hires are deemed failures within two years. The big reason they fail? More than 75 percent of the participants in the study cited poor interpersonal skills such as relationship building, influencing others and communications. When paired with the second big reason for failure, the challenges of navigating complicated organizational systems and processes, a picture begins to emerge. Newly hired or promoted executives need help in getting up to speed quickly.

The top three things that help the most, according to the study respondents, are mentoring or informal buddy programs, a customized "good start" plan for the executive and working with a coach who understands the organization. The March issue of Next Level Thinking will include access to the full executive summary of the Alexcel Group/Institute for Executive Development study.  You can click here to subscribe.

In the meantime, what trends are you seeing around new executive success and failure? When they succeed why do they? Why do you think they fail? What is your organization doing to help them succeed?