Adsum Insights Blog


Friends Don't Let Friends...Start Jobs Unprepared

first 100 days / career

In a recent post, I shared source data on the high failure rate for executives starting new jobs.

Organizations bear some of the responsibility for their struggling new hires.  Egon Zehnder reported that in a survey of 200 global organizations, only 30% provided transition support to executives.  This is nuts given how much upside there is when execs flourish and the costs when they don't.

But transitioning executives need to look in the mirror as well.  Few start new jobs with a game plan and fewer still have a POV on what an effective transition even looks like.

Why are executives walking into high-stakes jobs so unprepared?

Maybe they don't know how high the failure rate is.  Maybe it's over confidence from past success.  Or in wrapping up their old job, they ran out of time to adequately prepare.

The fixes to the systemic and individual causes underlying the high failure rate are not complex. For some reason, we've collectively decided to live with the churn, frustration, heartache, and financial costs.

Why are executives walking into high-stakes jobs so unprepared?

While you might not be in a position to take on the systemic issues, you can help prevent your friends from becoming statistics:

  • Make sure they know the transition road can be treacherous, so much so that it's a coin toss whether they will still be in their new job in 18 months. 
  • Nudge them to be better prepared.  Researching the likely missteps and thinking through how they will judge the success of their First Hundred Days are two constructive steps they can take on their own.
  • Remind them they don't have to go it alone.  Leveraging the wisdom and experience in their outside mentor network can help them vet and strengthen their plans and significantly improve their chances starting well.


Dennis Adsit, Ph.D. is the President of Adsum Insights and designer of The First 100 Days and Beyond, a consulting service for leaders in transition who need to get off to the best possible start in their new jobs.