The CEO of HSN, Mindy Grossman, did something very smart when she joined the company as its 7th CEO in 10 years. As detailed in today’s Sunday New York Times business section, Grossman said the following:
“For example, my first day, I went through orientation just like everyone else, because I wanted to see what everybody else feels when they come into this company for the first time. There were 15 people — a guy who is in backstage TV, somebody in production, somebody in planning, and I just came in and sat down.
Everybody had to go around the room and say what their job was, including me. There were a couple of abrupt reactions, with people saying, “Really?” But the impact that had, and how viral it was throughout the organization, made a huge difference, because it was a signal of a new management philosophy.”
I have been advising and observing CEOs for a long time now and have to add that this is one smart lady CEO. Talk about sending a message of accessibility and heirarchy-lessness. If all CEOs presented themselves shoulder to shoulder with their employees on day one like this, we’d all have a better impression of CEOs. It should be standard operating procedure but sadly it is not. If it was a normal part of a CEO’s playbook for the first 100 days, this symbolic behavior would not stand out as much as it does.