The Story

The challenge of how to help people succeed in new roles was in our minds as far back as the 1990s. Then, as now, those who were least experienced and needed help the most, didn’t get it.

The situation has always been that the only people who receive support in new roles are near the top of the organisation. They are the most exposed, and whose success could mean most for the organisation, but also the ones that have most experience in changing roles. And they too are also mostly left to sink or swim.

The reason for not being able to support all managers is simple: it costs too much.

Digitalisation gives new possibilities. If there was one generic ‘right way’ to manage a transition to a new role, it would be possible to support all levels digitally. But can the journeys of generals, shift leaders in factories, supervisors of brand teams, co-ordinators of home help, shop managers and senior civil servants in government ministries etc. be compared?

We think so. The first 100 day period in a new management role follows the same pattern, whatever and wherever the role is. But each journey is filled with the relationships, challenges and achievements particular to that journey.

ELLA was conceived as a vehicle for delivering best practice to all managers transitioning into a new role, when they need it. Each user is encouraged to follow the same 5 steps, but to apply their own content. The input is delivered precisely when needed, at a strikingly low cost, thanks to ELLA being digital.

A bigger need than we thought

Our understanding of the need for ELLA was increased dramatically when we discovered that the research says that 40% of managers moving into a new role underperform. We still struggle with that statistic. But when we thought about it, we saw that doing new things with new people doesn’t work perfectly every time. So maybe 40% isn’t too far off. And it certainly gives us the motivation to help the thousands of managers changing roles all the time.

Effective learning

We also see that managers in new roles are out to prove themselves. They have to show that the trust shown in  them is not misplaced.

This makes them open to help and new input. They are in learning overdrive. It’s a golden opportunity for the organisation to provide input at a point when it’s guaranteed to be taken gratefully on board.

This contrasts painfully to normal leadership development where organisations spend a lot of time and money on pushing content and development. The well-intentioned input doesn't always hit the target and organisations really struggle to demonstrate the effect of leadership development programmes.

Principles

We have developed ELLA based on a two principles:

Empowerment & confidentiality:

A leader makes their own way in the world, contributing to their employer’s success by using their skills and energy as intelligently as they can. ELLA supports that effort. We ask customer organisations to make using ELLA obligatory, but do not presume to dictate which tools a leader should employ, or the order in which they should be used.

We discourage control. The customer organisation should not monitor user behaviour in any detail. The customer organisation needs to know if ELLA is being used and if it works, but should otherwise leave the leader to get on with it.

ELLA does not help the leader’s boss directly. The leader is prompted to keep the boss in the loop, build a positive relationship and organise regular milestone meetings, but no information is provided by ELLA to the leader’s boss.

All information is 100% confidential to the leader. We can use it in an anonymised format for research, but no-one in the leader’s organisation has access to any of the reflections or inner thoughts the leader might write about in ELLA.

Nudging & reflection:

ELLA is not instructional. Her approach is to encourage the leader to reflect. The questions are designed to provoke an ‘Oh! I hadn’t thought of that’ reaction. This new insight should be followed by a ‘Hhhm, maybe I should….’ thought as the leader jots down an action on their ToDo list.

The objective is to make the leader think, to widen their scope and deepen their understanding of how to succeed in their new role.

Ultimately, ELLA tries to nudge the leader into following the five 100 day steps. There are no instructions, incentives or punishments, just encouragement to follow best practice. It’s not so important which tools a leader uses, or whether they are diligent or disciplined in using ELLA. It is important that they take their first 100 day period very seriously, break it down into weeks, view it as a project, and listen to ELLA’s advice on how to succeed.

The founders

We are three very experienced leaders / recruiters / organisational developers based in Oslo, Norway. We have combined our competence and experience with the research and management books in the field to create ELLA.

Richard Taylor

  • Organisational psychologist with an MBA
  • Broad top management experience spanning many industries, functions and countries, including 10 years with corporate responsibility for HR
  • Extensive experience as consultant in private, public and voluntary sectors
  • A number of board positions in the education and culture sectors
  • Started career as counsellor for drug and alcohol abusers

Svein Hennum

  • Educated by the navy, and as an IT-engineer by Kongsberg Engineering Polytechnic
  • Founder and managing partner of successful headhunting and recruiting firm for 27 years
  • 10 years experience in sales and sales management

Per-Harald Finneng

  • Education from Royal Norwegian Air force Academy, and in organisational psychology from University of California, Santa Barbara
  • An entrepreneur with 25 years experience as consultant, and leader of consulting companies
  • 8 years experience in roles as responsible for organisational development in both public and private sectors