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.