When some managers take over a new job, they hit the ground running. They learn the ropes, get along with their bosses and subordinates, gain credibility, and ultimately master the situation. Others, however, don't do so well. What accounts for the difference? In this article, first published in 1985, Harvard Business School professor John J. Gabarro relates the findings of two sets of field studies he conducted, covering 14 management successions. According to the author, the taking-charge process follows five predictable stages: taking hold, immersion, reshaping, consolidation, and refinement. These phases are characterized by a series of alternating periods of intense learning (immersion and refinement) and action (taking hold, reshaping, and consolidation). The study's results put to rest the myth of the all-purpose general manager who can be dropped into any situation and emerge triumphant. Understanding a situation and effecting change do not occur overnight, says Gabarro, and human variables such as managerial styles and effective working relationships make a difference.
From the January 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review.
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©2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, All Rights Reserved; (P)2007 Audible Inc.