Written by: Adam Lloyd
We know CEO’s are in the hot seat more visibly these days, but what we often forget is that their expectations begin on day one. There’s not a lot of time for ramp-up and training when hiring talent at the top of the organization, yes, transitional periods and months when incumbents are retained to ease the transition exist, but nobody is sitting back and waiting for results. CEO turnover has been on the rise, therefore it only accelerates the need to interact quickly when executives do join a new organization. As a recent study by the The Conference Board points to CEO engagement as the indicator of success, smooth transitioning is essential to connecting with employees.
I recently met with Souheil Badran, CEO of edo Interactive, to discuss his recent transition and quite a cultural shift from his previous assignments. What he told me only supported the advice often received, and what I’ll call “keys”, to a having a successful transition. For executives and HR alike, keep these pieces of advice in mind to lead to more impactful first impressions.
Leaders are expected to lead and have answers and the ideas that will propel the organization to new heights. It’s foolish to think that CEO’s don’t have great ideas coming into a new company, they wouldn’t have been hired if that was the case, but, it’s equally as important to never assume leaders have all of the answers coming in on day 1. Any great executive will tell you that when they enter into a new company and culture, they listen to the people and future leaders that have been there and built the company, at all levels. Successful executives know how to gather real front-line insight to problems and solutions occurring and then apply it to their plan.
Get in the Weeds
In addition to just listening, creating an on-site presence and becoming entrenched in the real work that is being done in the company is an instant credibility boost. It is much easier for employees to get behind a leader that has been at least near their shoes, if not walked in them. When executives tell me they don’t plan on spending their first 90 days cooped up in their office, it’s an indicator that they’re going to resonate with the employee population. Establishing credibility with the board, stakeholders, customers and employees is important, and everyone wants visibility. You’re seeing more and more of this, leaders abandoning the metaphorical tower, to gain first-hand perspective of how the company truly functions.
Lose the Blueprint
Having a history of success and designed plans that have yielded great results, is important when vetting the track record of any executive. One of things that Souheil Badran discussed with me was that, yes, he had ideas and 30-60-90 day plan that he believed would be successful, but, he did not have a mold or blueprint that he took from company to company with him. As companies, we prefer buying customized, but flexible solutions to meet our specific needs. Why would we not expect this from the CEO running the company? Therefore, as Souheil mentioned, have a plan but not a blueprint.
Having a successful road map that has been customized to the organization is a step in the right direction, but if it is not communicated and shared across the organization, you can’t create a clear vision. When a CEO creates a vision, a buzz comes along with it, in addition to feedback. The excitement is what rallies the troops and often the external market, leading to a positive brand spike and stock adjustment. People hear about fresh ideas and innovation and want to be part of it. In addition to being transparent, critical feedback only lends to tweaking a plan for improvement. Communicating openly is one of the most important elements of, not only a smooth initial transition, but also buy-in for longevity. Millennials demand transparency and open leadership, so it’s without a doubt a factor that should be applied from day one.
Leaders that express the importance for these types of actions in their entry to an organization are ones that will transition well, resonate with employees and set the stage for a cohesive plan. Remember these keys and you’ll create a culture of believers.