Welcoming your new CEO

A 100-day plan for internal comms teams

7 October 2019 | James Blake

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Most of us need a little bit of settling-in time when we start a new job. Those nervous first few days are about getting to know your new colleagues, understanding the demands of the role, who the go-to people are and working out the quickest commute into the office every day.

Seeking to understand

For new CEOs, those first few days and beyond are about ‘seeking to understand’. Over their first 100 days or so they’ll want to observe the business in action, they’ll want to listen, and they’ll want to understand what makes your organisation tick before they feel ready to make big decisions or commit to making grand announcements about the future.

As an Internal Communications team, you can be a brilliant asset for your new CEO as they find their feet in those first few months. Consider this Harvard Business Review stat; 70 per cent of new executives blame a ‘poor grasp’ of how their organisation works as the major stumbling block to effective onboarding.

That’s something you can change while ensuring your new CEO is fully aware of the fantastic work you, as a team, do every day.

Your 100-day induction plan

For a new CEO, it’s not just about working out who’s who in the office and who to go for for what. They’ll need to quickly understand the business model, market position, the strengths and risks of your organisation’s culture, growth plans, talent, what works well and what doesn’t, what’s missing and what needs fixing as a priority.

It’s a big list and goes beyond your usual onboarding programme.

Creating a 100-day induction plan for your new CEO can steer them through it and help them, and you, develop great internal communications as their tenure in the role develops.

Key objectives for them in their early weeks and months will be to understand the business past and present; they’ll want to start to build relationships and trust, listen to those around them, and get a feel for the heartbeat of your organisation, your language and ways of working.

An effective 100-day plan can help deliver these objectives and ensure your team is a trusted and well-used resource.

Providing knowledge and confidence

Confidence comes with knowledge, so within their first month think about equipping them with data and insight – what do people in the business think and feel, what are certain groups’ issues? You could send out an survey before they start to ask employees what it is they want their new CEO to know. It would demonstrate they are keen to know how employees feel from their first day in the role.

An internal communications ‘cheat sheet’ would be invaluable for them, it could highlight what channels you use and why, how do people interact with the emails you send or the blogs you post? Knowing that will help manage expectations too and give them inside knowledge as to why you do what you do with each channel!

A video message direct from the new CEO in their first few days is a fantastic way to introduce them to everyone; putting a face to a name is key in helping people feel like they know who the new boss is.

Later, you can think about that first Town Hall or meet-the-CEO roadshow before settling on a more regular narrative. How often and how will they want to talk to everyone? Are they comfortable with vlogs and podcasts?

Don’t overdo it!

Finally, just a quick tip, don’t overdo it too early after they’ve started in the role. People will understand their new CEO is settling in and taking time to understand the business before talking to them with knowledge and confidence about the exciting times ahead!