Wednesday, July 9, 2008

When you take over a Division

When a New Manager Takes Charge.
By: Gabarro, John J.,
Harvard Business Review,
Jan 2007, Vol. 85, Issue 1

Fewer publications address what happens when general managers take over a division or function in large organizations. Yet these are the transitions through which a manager becomes -- or fails to become -- a leader.

More than 20 years ago, Harvard Business School professor John J. Gabarro conducted a research project to examine what happens when general managers take on big new jobs.

In this 1985 article (reprinted now once again), he reported on his findings: Managers took much longer than predicted to get up to speed; successful transitions followed predictable stages (including two sit-back-and-watch periods of immersion and refinement); industry insiders took charge much faster than outsiders; and a good working relationship with a boss dramatically increased the likelihood of success. Gabarro's most important finding overall was that taking charge takes a long, long time. Given the now common practice of shortened general-management assignments, are organizations paying a huge, hidden cost?

John J. Gabarro is the UPS Foundation Professor of Human Resource Management in Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School in Boston.

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