Changing Jobs is a Challenge, Even for Executives

Last Updated Jun 12, 2008 1:33 PM EDT

  • The Find: One-third of executives who transfer to a new company and
    one in five business leaders who change jobs within the same company are not successful -- even after two years on the job.
  • The Source: The new "Executive Transitions" study by The Institute of Executive Development and Alexcel Group.
The Takeaway: The Institute of Executive Development and Alexcel Group gathered data from 150 participants across 18 industries and 11 countries. The results won't come as a huge shock for anyone who has changed job recently. It's hard, especially for senior managers:
  • 36 percent of respondents reported is takes six to nine months for external new hires to get up to speed; 26 percent said more than nine months.
  • For internal transfers, 47 percent said the usual ramp-up time was three to six months, though 25 percent thought it took significantly longer (more than six months)
  • 30 percent of executives who join an organization as an external hire fail to meet expectations in first 2 years
So what can smooth the transition to a new job? It turns out that the most common method, orientation programs, actually have the least impact. Though 45 percent of respondents said they use them, less than one in five said they were effective. Mentoring and coaching were rated most effective but is used in only 32 percent of cases.

The best ways to smooth the executive onboarding process, the report concludes, are simple but powerful: hire the right people in the first place, keep your expectations reasonable, don't neglect internal hires and identify problems early so they can be corrected with coaching or mentoring.

The Question: How long did it take you to get up to speed at your current jobs and what what would have sped the process?

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.