Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Do's during CEO change: Stay authentic!

Here are some of the essential things a CEO should consider during the critical starting period of his new assignment.

First of all, the CEO must stay authentic. That makes him predictable and allows managers and employees to assess their new executive as soon as possible. Getting to know each other is the basis for trust and acceptance. In his first messages, he should show how he is and how he thinks: What are his personal expectations? What are his values? What is important to him? How will he pursue the company's success? Hierarchical or rather team
oriented? Many nuances are possible. A mandatory, authentic appearance helps to rapidly contain rumors and uncertainties about the future course of the company. However, the new CEO is not only measured by his messages but also by his style. Already his very first appearance in front of managers and employees is therefore crucial for the further interaction within the company.

Raising credibility

Secondly, he should particularly show openness, honesty and transparency. A new CEO is under considerable pressure by all sorts of stakeholders and needs to meet a wide variety of interests and expectations. On the one hand, he should deliver “quick wins”, which should, however, not be achieved at the expense of a long-term solid business. On the other hand, major decisions will have a sustainable effect only in the long run. This all is crucial for the timing of changes and the appropriate communication measures. Details on proposed changes should not be communicated overhasty. The new CEO should first try to describe the company's situation as he sees it and what challenges it is facing. In doing so, he raises his credibility, and employees get the necessary idea and orientation. Core values such as respect, transparency, fairness and professionalism contribute to a credible and effective performance. Open communication is a prerequisite for coping successfully with upcoming, maybe far-reaching changes.

Thirdly: Listening, showing nearness and learning about the corporate culture. Good relations with key stakeholders requires a willingness to consider their expectations and concerns and take them seriously. To be visible and touchable in the company is particularly important and foster trust right in the beginning. Above all, it is important that the new CEO understands the company's DNA. What keeps the company together? What is so special about its brand? What strategic changes are possible without destroying the foundations and the culture of the company? Getting to know the brand should be the subject of communication during the starting period of the new management. Because the CEO not only represents the brand: he is very much affecting him through his personal style.

Timing is crucial

Fourthly and finally, content and timing of messages must be carefully planned during a CEO change both in external and internal communication: When are restructuring measures announced? When do you initiate a culture change? Especially during the start of a new CEO, sensitive messages in connection with major changes need to be carefully considered. Internal and external announcements must be coordinated: employees should not learn from the media about future intentions of their company. It is never easy for a new management to communicate sensitive topics at the right time. But too early or too late is still better than keeping it as a secret.

(To be continued with part 3: Don'ts during CEO change)

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