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In most commercial enterprises, leaders have been educated in management theory and business administration but not in relationship building. By applying pure management theory, new leaders can find themselves over-reliant on data -- which is vital in itself but it should not be at the expense of relationships in their early days.
By failing to talk to and understand their colleagues, leaders risk isolation, inhibiting their ability to develop important connections and cultivate channels of "soft" information. If they continue to stand apart, new leaders are inevitably labelled as remote and unapproachable.
So it is important that new leaders get out and about. Written assessments, though informative, are more valuable when we understand the context and the people behind them. It is impressions, ideas and strong feelings about how to deal with issues that offer more than formal analysis. Organisations seldom insist that the main objective in a leader's first 100 days should be to recognise and build key relationships.
New leaders' desire to hit the ground running can lead to them arriving with the answers to problems already worked out. They bring their own fixes or they reach conclusions too early without soliciting the right level of input. They may fall into this trap through arrogance or insecurity in their new role or through a misplaced belief that they must appear decisive immediately.
Organisations seldom insist that the main objective in a leader's first 100 days should be to recognise and build key relationships
A good leader accepts they may not be the smartest person in the room or the one with all the answers. Employees who believe their leaders' minds are made up are reluctant to share views and information. This hinders the leader's ability to understand the true nature of a conflict.
We need to coach our new leaders to resist the desire to "do something". They must step away from jumping to answer and instead embrace and project a spirit of inquiry, even if they are confident they understand an issue and the best way to deal with it.
Time spent in conversation, carefully diagnosing the organisation's strengths and weaknesses from a people perspective, is seldom wasted.
The last point about relationships is that many new leaders devote too much time during their transition to vertical influence -- upward to their line manager and downward to direct reports -- and not enough to the horizontal dimension of peers and key stakeholders. This is understandable, since leaders gravitate to the people they report to and who report to them. But they also need the support of people not under their authority.
Relationships are key to the long-term success of any leader, but they are critical for those fresh to a post. Helping them to avoid relationship pitfalls depends on how well we prepare our leaders for their roles and in the first days. This requires supporting them in their diagnosis of colleagues' strengths and weaknesses, negotiating success through others, building coalitions, and ultimately helping them to secure the early wins they seek.
Now they are at the wrong end of a major report, the Stevenson-Farmer independent review of workplace mental health (see p 13), which argues the opposite. It says the the mental health crisis that has engaged the royal family and led the prime minister to call for more effort from the National Health Service, must be tackled in the workplace and that the HSE should be proactive in this area.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued Stress Management Standards in 2004 as a framework for employers to check whether they were putting workers under unreasonable pressure and depriving them of the support and resources that would allow them to work efficiently.In the global recession at the end of the decade, the corporate interest in stress waned as many organisations adjusted to budget cuts by retrenching to safety management.
In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and trade bodies have tried everything from mobile phone apps to literature distributed at trade counters to channel messages about regulatory requirements and good practice to small contractors, especially those in construction.
New figures which begin to quantify this stark truth were revealed at the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Singapore (September 2017), a triennial gathering where leading organisations for safety and health connect with ministers, policymakers and some of the world’s largest corporations.
The report points out that safety does not depend simply on getting the design, materials and construction methods right, but on its management during the whole lifecycle of the building. The finger of blame has previously been pointed at construction and refurbishment failings. Criticism has focused on cladding systems on high-rise flats and whether the provision of sprinklers should be mandatory. However, we must remember that residents have a duty of care to their neighbours too.