Learning Center

Access Resources

Establish a leader assimilation system to smooth the path to success
March 20, 2018

smoothing the path to successSmooth the path to success

The first quarter of the new year is often a time mired in changes – changes to strategy, changes to the organization to align teams around the strategy, leaders coming and going as year-end bonuses are paid out and the ramping up new initiatives, products and services.

It’s a whirlwind.

The fast pace of change that’s par for the first-quarter course can challenge even the most seasoned leaders as they transition into new roles and new organizations. For leaders in transition, the challenge is even greater. Perhaps even overwhelming.

25 to 50 percent of the time, newly on-boarded leaders fail to deliver on what they were hired to do…

And research shows that 25 to 50 percent of the time, newly on-boarded leaders fail to deliver on what they were hired for at a total cost to the company of 10 to 25 times their base salary.

Why? Assimilation gone wrong.

There’s pressure for the leader to quickly acclimate to the new team, business partners and organizational culture in order to get traction and deliver on business outcomes. And the speed at which it’s all happening, well that’s also part of the problem. But it doesn’t have to incite panic.

By following a few strategic steps, leaders can accelerate the assimilation and learning process during the transition, smoothing the path to success for the remainder of the year. Here’s how:


Engage an outside party to interview your new direct reports, peers and your boss to get a sense of the challenges facing the group and those they serve. Key inquiries should include:

  • How cohesive is the team?
  • Where are the breakdowns in collaboration and service quality?
  • How credible is your group among your peers?
  • What needs to change?
  • What’s the buzz on the street about the team and how it operates?
  • How self-aware is the team about the issues and challenges facing it both internally and externally?

There are many questions, but getting the answers will make all the difference.


Pull the team together for a few hours and have a facilitator compile and share the results of what you learned from the interviews. The facilitator will ask for reactions from you and the team to validate or challenge content and context as a way bring to the surface solutions to issues raised and to get a sense of improvements that might already be underway.


Give the team a chance to ask questions of the new leader.

  • What have they heard about you?
  • How do you like to operate and make decisions?
  • Should the team expect to participate in decision-making and if so, how?
  • What expectations do the leader and team have of each other?


Ask team members what they believe are the most urgent priorities to be tackled, then dig deeper.

  • What plans are in place to address them?
  • What help do they need from you?
  • Who else in the organization needs to help the team break through bottle necks?
  • What resources are needed?
  • What else is getting in the way of the team’s success?
  • What stakeholders benefit or are disadvantaged by implementing the priorities?


As you complete the prior steps, gather guidance to factor into your transition plan. Use this guidance to provide context for meetings you should have with stakeholders across the organization. These meetings are important in helping your team advance its goals or to realign it with changes in strategy based on your conversations.


Work with the team to define roles, expectations and accountability for delivering on tasks. Then, work shoulder to shoulder toward your common purpose, being sure everyone understands their role and contribution.


Work with the team to create a clean and simple measuring and monitoring system that demonstrates the team’s progress on its goals and strategic impact. With this system in place, the new leader and the team are positioned to report accurate progress, results and priority trades, as needed, to senior leadership to remain aligned with what’s expected of the team.

Being intentional about supporting leaders in transition with a well-defined process can save time, money and enable a smooth and successful transition. Give it a shot! You’ll find this process empowers new leaders to quickly assimilate and bond with their teams.

Want a deeper dive into the immersion process? IOCI offers a leader immersion facilitation program to help new leaders, both internal and external, learn about their teams, organizations and key stakeholders.

Learn more about IOCI and what Spirited Business® can mean for you.

Marialane Schultz

Marialane Schultz is the founder of IOCI. She helps individuals and organizations perform at their best, do meaningful work and be impactful through customized coaching and consulting engagements.

Subscribe to IOCI Insights