Success story

Leadership Onboarding with are you connected?® and the building connections® Tool

Industry: Retail Apparel and Home Fashions

Key Challenges

  • Provide a quick onboarding process for new leadership hires, especially those hired outside the organization
  • Deliver critical feedback in an agreeable culture

Solution and Services

  • are you connected?® feedback surveys
  • A customized building connections® too

Solution Highlights

  • Provided HR partners with data-based feedback
  • Transitioning leaders were given a clear view of where they were hitting or missing the mark
  • Leaders corrected their development

Key Benefits

  • TJX avoided costly turnover or derailment of several key leaders
  • New leaders feel more confident in understanding their role
  • TJX can address its succession planning needs

A Rising Star In The Retail Industry

To succeed in the retail industry, companies must anticipate trends, identify driving forces and assess the impact they will have on the industry. Having the right leadership to flow the right merchandise at the right time is crucial to strong merchandise margins. The TJX Companies, Incorporated, headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts, is the largest international apparel and home fashions off-price department store chain in the United States. A $26.3B successful company made up of a diverse collection of off‐priced retail store chains in North America, including TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Winner’s, Bob’s, and Home Goods, TJX is an organization with long‐ tenured leaders, often promoted from within.

The Need for Quick Engagement

As the company continues to grow, mature and acquire new retail chains, the type of leader needed for competitive advantage has evolved. TJX’s succession plan clearly spoke to the need to develop and recruit this new type of leader. TJX found that bringing senior leaders in from the outside, particularly for merchandising roles, was very challenging for both the new leaders and the organization, often taking up to two years to complete the transitioning process. To meet the demands of their changing business, it was critical to create a consistent process that surfaced the culture quickly and engaged the HR Partner and Hiring Manager in supporting the new leaders’ success.

TJX also had another challenge. To collect and deliver feedback to transitioning leaders in a culture that is agreeable and additionally, unfamiliar with receiving such direct assessment was uncomfortable. The HR leaders knew that transitioning leaders needed this feedback to be successful in the complex culture. However, there was not a consistent methodology to gather and deliver the feedback. In addition, the HR team did not have the expertise to determine the appropriate behaviors to measure.

A Leadership Transition Process That Worked

TJX came to Connect the Dots after an exhaustive search to create a more effective transitioning and onboarding process. The key elements of the process were:

  • A six-month process that began at offer acceptance
  • A customized building connections® tool with links to RoadMaps and learning sites
  • A process led by the HR Partner with clear roles for the Hiring Manager and New Leader
  • Tools for surfacing and discussing the TJX culture

The use of are you connected?® feedback surveys Connect the Dot’s are you connected?® early feedback tool was a natural extension of TJX’s leadership onboarding process. are you connected?® is a web‐based, multi‐ rater survey that collects both quantitative and qualitative feedback. are you connected?® captures data as to how stakeholders experience and observe the new leader during his/her first 60 days. are you connected?® measures 24 leader onboarding behaviors by using a 5 point scale and giving the stakeholders the opportunity to provide comments to explain their ratings. Connect the Dots and TJX HR Partners customized the survey process to meet the organization’s needs.

A Focused Understanding of the Organization and Goals

The are you connected?® survey results and action planning resources provided HR partners with the data‐based feedback needed to give transitioning leaders a clear view of where they were hitting and missing the mark. Over two hundred top leaders at TJX have received feedback via this survey and have made the appropriate changes for their success in their new roles. The impact for TJX has been the avoidable turnover or derailment of several key leaders.

TJX now has a transitioning process for new leaders (both internal and external) that enables them to have a clear understanding of both the organization and their roles. In addition, the process gives TJX a vehicle to take the mystery out of successfully transitioning into the company. The process clearly identifies the areas that need attention and has increased new leader retention, as well as their speed to performance. In addition, the hiring and promoting of less tenured associates is also more successful, enabling TJX to address its succession planning needs.

The TJX Companies now have leadership that is equipped to reach the organization’s goals, confident they understand the parameters of their key performance indicators. And they are well on their way toward achieving even greater profit margins as a result.

“Without the are you connected?® survey, we would have lost key new leaders.”
VP Executive Development, The TJX Companies, Inc.

Our team-connect Survey Process


We start with thoughtfully diagnosing the team’s current culture by using available data, assessments and interviews.

This provides the team leader with a clear view of what is getting in the way of the team’s success.

We design a series of structured team sessions that:

  • Share the team culture analysis
  • Give team members the opportunity to talk through both processes and behaviors that need to be addressed
  • Productively provide feedback to one another
  • Develop both team and individual commitments that will lead to the team’s desired state


Measure progress by leveraging CTD’s team-connect Survey to:

  • Drive accountability and measure progress by collecting team feedback specific to one another’s engagement and behavioral change
  • Provide the team’s leader with a clear understanding of what he/she and the team need from each other to enable and support the team’s success
  • Share team and individual survey result reports