How to introduce a new CEO to a business

by | Sep 7, 2016 | News

As part of People Management’s Masterclass series, Nicky Little from Cirrus offers some advice based on her extensive experience of working with senior leadership teams during periods of transition.

The arrival of a new CEO in any organisation, will likely herald a period of change, disruption and cultural differences. Multiple stakeholders are involved in leadership changeovers, including company shareholders, executives and non-executives, not to mention all the employees.

However, while a degree of disruption should always be expected during transitional times, there are things people at both the top and the heart of a business can do to make the transition a smooth one.

Developing a clear sense of strategy and trajectory from the start will help leaders to integrate with the company from a tactical engagement perspective, and also win the hearts and minds of the organisation from the beginning. New CEOs typically arrive with a plan, but they should also take time to develop an awareness of the organisation’s existing culture, and gauge the internal mood before they start implementing any strategies.

Inheriting the legacy of an outgoing boss can be complicated, so instead of simply creating a communication from the top that cascades downwards with no actual visibility or dialogue, it’s important to find a balance between showing empathy towards the past, and creating an exciting vision of the future. Making employees at all levels of the business feel as though their needs are being met is crucial to a successful introduction.

To facilitate this, HR and internal communications teams should hold regular dialogues with the new CEO and the senior team, to help communicate future plans to the rest of the organisation. There are simple plans that can be introduced to stimulate conversation and create a shared can-do attitude, such as running focus groups so employees feel as though they are being given a voice – and people at the top can gather real-time data of how moods are changing.

The final step is to gauge whether a new CEO is also planning for the long term. Transitionary periods are most likely to founder in circumstances where there is too much change with no clarity of what the future looks like, so in every new strategy they should be thinking about authenticity and consistency once the honeymoon period of a new leadership ends.

There are always some quick wins to be gained in the first phase of new leadership – but make sure you can sustain your longer-term plans.

© People Management 2016

Read Nicky’s ten top tips for helping a new CEO to succeed.

 

 

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