A Case Study for New Leader Assimilation
Leadership transitions today are commonplace with resignations at an all-time high, and continued market disruptions causing significant restructuring to a leader's role and their teams.
We recently worked with a leader who faced a big challenge. She was tasked with the leadership of a large manufacturing plant during the worst of the COVID supply chain disruptions (remember the Ever Given Suez Canal blockage?), in addition to soaring demand for the company’s wellness products manufactured at her plant.
The good news for this leader is that her company knew the challenge was a big one and wanted to make sure she had the support she needed throughout the process—so they had us come alongside her journey with our new leader assimilation process.
New Leader Assimilation is for the Leader and the Team
One of the key goals for this assimilation was to help our new leader build trust with her team and relationships with her peers across divisions and business units. Part of the reason the previous leader didn’t succeed in this role was a lack of trust, so it was extra important for our new leader to build trusting relationships quickly and maintain them effectively.
Since the new leader was brand-new to both the team and the organization, the first step of our process was especially important for her—and for the team:
- We conducted interviews with her team members to understand the team’s challenges and experiences under the previous leader, then oriented the new leader to the team's history and helped them establish team norms together.
- We used an Everything DiSC® assessment for a full-day team session focused on working together, communicating effectively, and understanding and appreciating others’ styles.
All the while, our leader was having coaching sessions with her FlashPoint coach, a neutral third party where she could talk through and problem-solve challenges, plus focus on building relationships within the organization with the individualized support of a skilled facilitator-coach.
Our facilitator-coach has deep knowledge of the team and organization thanks to facilitating the team sessions and holding additional touchpoints with the new leader’s manager to understand progress and context. The process is a true 360-degree support system intentionally designed to be structured, yet flexible as the leader adapts to challenges in the first 12 months.
After a period of working together to achieve key milestones, our leader and her team took The Five Behaviors®: Team Development assessment and focused even more deeply on their team cohesion during a one-day in-person session. We built on the foundation they’d created together through the understanding of the team’s history, milestones, and Everything DiSC® styles in the first session. Then, based on the model of Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results, the team refined their ways of working together more effectively. They also identified key priorities and agreed upon them with the commitment of a follow-up progress session several months later.
New Leader Assimilation as a Process Gets Results
Our new leader continued her coaching sessions for additional support during her assimilation process. As we approached the one-year anniversary mark, her team came together for their progress assessment check-in. Because of this intentional focus and common set of team behaviors, from August 2021 to February 2022, her team improved in all five behaviors, with the most significant increases in Trust, Conflict, and Commitment.
The increase in the Trust category was a sure sign that our new leader was doing great where her predecessor had struggled. Overall, in addition to the team’s score improvements, we received great feedback from the sessions!
When we asked the team to rate their knowledge and skill on a 10-point scale before the session versus after the session, we saw a 2.76 increase from 5.62 to 8.38.
When asked what they liked, one team member shared it all came back to “Engagement from the leadership team, and good team development with more active discussions than slides. [It] . . . pushed me to engage with the team differently.”
Another person shared: “I liked the focus around our specific weaknesses, action plan development, and discussion on how we prioritize/our top priorities.”
The leader’s manager also saw their big-picture goals met too. The new leader worked with their coach on stakeholder mapping, which helped her build cross-functional relationships and trust throughout the plant (not just with her team). Her manager was thrilled at the progress in our new leader’s relationship-building to navigate influencing priorities and maintain accountability.
Watching the process the new leader went through on their assimilation journey was inspiring. Our New Leader Assimilation process includes the right mix of structure to keep the leader and the team progressing toward goals and personalization to let teams maximize the team’s unique opportunities. Learn more about FlashPoint's New Leader Assimilation process.
Photo by Robert Keane on Unsplash