Thursday, October 1, 2015
5 priorities for every first-year leader
Last year, the first thing I did after joining a 10-year-old company as CEO was to hold one-on-one meetings with every employee. I listened, learned and built relationships. Armed with a wealth of understanding from the more than 100 conversations, I then sought advice from my most trusted advisors.
As a new CEO, you inherit a team that you didn't have a hand in shaping, but you'll nevertheless work closely with. It's crucial that you spend time prioritizing people. Start by understanding those closest to the business.
Speak with founders, investors, board members and of course, the current leadership. Investigate how they work, what matters to them and to their employees and how they describe their vision. Ask about what they think they can improve and how you can best contribute. Share your own background — including what drives you personally and professionally — to build a foundation of trust.
After you meet with leadership and understand the company structure, prioritize understanding the business. Learn the ins and outs of the market opportunity, your customer base and the planned for the next 18 months and why they've made those planned for the next 18 months and why they've made those plans.
As you make changes to the business, be thoughtful about communicating change within the company's existing context. Understand the heritage, culture and foundation, so you can better articulate how proposed changes will complement the company's future.
Once you're aligned at a high level — with the founders, board and leadership team — educate everyone across the company about why you're making changes, how they fit into the company's DNA and how they'll lead to future success.
Don't just say you have an open door policy; live it.Prioritize spending a lot of time with employees in person, no matter where they're located. While this can be a significant operational challenge, there's no substitute for face-time.
Visit different offices — even if they're halfway around the world — and meet with employees. Open up your calendar and find opportunities to get to know people outside the office. Don't just explain what you're doing; ask for different viewpoints and ask how you can help make their jobs easier and more fulfilling.
Relentless, ongoing conversation is incredibly important for sustaining relationships, building trust and maintaining alignment. Just when you think you've communicated enough, there's always a benefit in communicating more.
In addition to sharing regular updates (through all-hands meetings, email newsletters and so on), you should encourage everyone to ask questions when they come up. Consider using a framework to help everyone understand the company's priorities and objectives, and reinforce why your decisions align with the overall vision and values.
Your first year as CEO is a time of transition for you and for the company. Prioritize educating yourself, building relationships and communicating change as openly and empathetically as possible. If you spend your first 12 months investing in this foundation, you'll position the company for better alignment in the future. That will help everyone across the company write its next chapter together.
Source : http://on.mash.to/1VqQ5me