Finding a successor to your CEO isn’t an easy task. Once you’ve done the hard part of recruiting, you might be inclined to sit back and relax. This is a common mistake.
In truth, it doesn’t matter how good an executive looks on paper. It all depends on how well they work with your company. Make sure the relationship gets off to a great start by putting in the effort to welcome them to the company.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you manage the new arrival!
Encourage a Smooth Transition:
Before you introduce a CEO, make sure the ground is set for them to arrive. It’s unfair to force an executive into an unstable climate. Even if the last CEO has left under difficult circumstances, you should make an effort to reset the terrain. If you want more advice on saying goodbye to an old CEO, we’ve written before about how to simplify the transition.
The main point of action is to focus on the facts of the change. Make sure your employees understand what is going on. Don’t leave things to the last minute to tell them about the change! Pay special attention when drafting a leaving message from the old CEO - especially if they were a well-liked member of staff.
It’s always worth having a leadership structure prepared for the replacement. Assess whether any changes are needed from the existing structure. If you’ve done a good job managing the change, you’ve already done yourself a massive favour.
Prioritise your Employees:
Your employees are the ones who will be affected by the change. They have worked with the outgoing CEO over a period of time and may have got used to a certain way of doing things. When you are welcoming any new CEO, make sure your team is at the front of your mind. Of course, you want to share your decision with the world, but internal communication should take priority.
If you have selected a CEO from internal candidates, the transition plan will be slightly different. The board of directors and senior management team will already have a relationship with them. Hopefully, this is a good relationship! Still, this kind of choice means they will have preconceptions about the person you select. Support them in understanding the new roles and responsibilities of the CEO.
In both cases, you should prioritise making sure the team is comfortable! Make sure they recognise the incoming CEO and what they bring to the table.
In the old days, this might have included in-person meetings with the CEO and other members of the team. Now, it might be easier to schedule online meetings. A virtual Boardroom might be a useful way to bring the new team together quickly.
Share their Personality:
Once you’ve established the facts, you can move on to highlighting the new CEO’s strengths! Your Chief Officer is the key to your company culture. They will define the leadership structure and atmosphere in the organisation.
Get off to a positive start by sharing what makes them unique. Their personality was a part of why you hired them, so show your employees everything you saw in the interview process.
Build the brand of the new CEO by focusing on their best attributes. This is a great opportunity to promote your company values to the world. You might want to conduct public interviews with the incoming CEO so they can share their vision for the future.
Understand their Strengths (and Weaknesses!):
You know the strengths of your new CEO - you’ve likely spent hours discussing them with the rest of the Board! Use these strengths when you’re introducing the CEO to the company. If they are an outgoing character, share this straight away. Their work ethic, decision-making skills, and inspiring personality are the ground on which you build their future.
However, success isn’t just about strength but also how you handle weakness. During the hiring process, you were naturally focused on the great things about the candidate. Don’t forget they have weaknesses. Maybe they don’t have as much experience in Finance as others who applied for the position. In this case, you can guide the executive team (and particularly the CFO) to offer their best support.
Make Sure They are Prepared:
The most important part of welcoming a new CEO to the company is making sure they are comfortable in the role. No matter how experienced they are, there are things they have to learn about your company! Help them to navigate their new role and guide them to deliver their best work.
Make sure they are provided with adequate training and support. You also need to set out your expectations from the start. Don’t wait for them to make preventable mistakes. After all, this isn’t a test! This is the fate of your company.
You don’t need to hold their hand forever, but you should also make sure they have everything they need to succeed. They should have a perfect understanding of the company’s structure and processes.
A Board portal like Convene can help you with the process of welcoming a new CEO to the company. The all-in-one meeting management solution streamlines communication across your organisation. From drafting minutes for their introductory meeting to finalising the audit trail, the software is designed to support your needs. Read our customer success stories or contact us for a free trial.