Posts Tagged ‘new CEO’
Boston Consulting Group issued a new report about debunking the myths of the first 100 days. It is worth reading if you are a new CEO. Several facts are worth sharing here however and I already dropped some into my presentation on steps CEOs should take in their First 100 Days. Since I wrote a book on the various stages of CEO tenure and how CEOs build reputation from day one to the very last hour, I try to update it as often as I can to keep up. CEOs have to keep up too because their first 100 days provides them with less time than ever before to get it right.
In one sidebar, the article describes how the CEO job has changed due to the growing complexity facing the modern day CEO. BSG found that organizational complicatedness (their word) has risen by a factor of 35 compared to 1955 (when the Fortune 500 was first created!). Many of these changes we already feel but BCG attaches facts and figures to these changes which are good to have.
Far more complex world for CEOs
• Number of performance requirements is 6X more than in 1955. Then, CEOs were measured against 4 to 7 KPIs vs. the typical 25 to 40 KPIs now.
Far more scrutiny for CEOs
• Many more stakeholders are now watching every step that new CEOs take These include activist shareholders, board members, regulators, lobbyists, online pundits, NGOs, consumers, media.
Far more dispirited workforce
• New CEOs are starting when falling employee engagement levels have dropped as much as 14%.
• Among U.S. employees, job satisfaction plummeted about 60% in 1990 to less than 43% in 2010.
I truly believe that the disengagement of the workforce is one of the biggest challenges facing CEOs. And what CEOs do in those first 100 days can make or break their tenure’s success. This is why I believe it is time for new CEOs to get a bit more social, like online!~
What a day for female CEOs. Marissa Mayer becoming the CEO of Yahoo! and lo and behold, she is having a baby. Talk about agita. I thought it would be interesting to see how many mentions of pregnancy came up when searching for Marissa Mayer and Google or Yahoo! So I started by first looking at Marissa Mayer and Google or Yahoo! There were zero mentions on the days leading up to the announcement (good to hear that there are some secrets in this world) but on the day of the announcement (7/16), there were 125 mentions and 449 one day later (7/17).
What about when we add on “pregnancy.” On Day 1 and 2, there were 70 mentions of Marissa Mayer and Yahoo! and pregnant or pregnancy. It felt like that is all I read about so I was surprised that there was not more.
However, what would happen if we looked at Marissa Mayer and Yahoo! and pregnant or pregnancy compared to Marissa Mayer and Yahoo! and “qualified” or “qualifications” or “qualification”? Oops, there were only 9 mentions. So the PREGNANCY of new CEO Mayer at Yahoo! outweighed mentions of her QUALIFICATIONS about 8 times over. That sounds like a story in itself.
As my colleague Liz said to me, “She really blows the first 100 day CEO model out of the water. Maybe this is a new book for you to write, Leslie. Your new model can be segmented by trimesters.” That certainly got me laughing.
The new CEO at Nalco, Erik Fyrwald has this to say about being an outsider CEO and getting up to speed. I think that all this advice is right on target, especially his statement about thinking you have all the answers at the start and then unlearning those assumptions so you can learn how things really are. Fortune interviewed him about water and carbon but I liked the part about being a new CEO best. Most outsider CEOs come into a job knowing what the board has told them. As we know, the board is usually the last to know (so says Warren Buffett). In my research, I have heard over and over from CEOs that their perspective 100 days later is usually 360 degrees different from what they thought day one. This probably goes for anyone starting a new job. If you want to build a good internal CEO reputation, try to keep your opinions to yourself for a couple of months until you REALLY know what you are talking about. First impressions are usually just that, first impressions.
You came into Nalco as CEO from the outside. What was at the top of your to-do list?
I spent the first weeks and months listening a lot — to the leadership of Nalco, talking to people across the organization. Traveled a lot. Got out there with customers all over the world trying to understand what we do well, what we didn’t do well, where they saw the opportunities. Spent time with my leadership team, getting their view on what we needed to do and also assessing the leadership and who we really needed, and what other capabilities we needed to bring in.
A lot of people in your position, coming in as CEO, have told me that focusing on the team is critical …
… and in many cases focusing on the culture. From the outside you’ll see that it needs to be steered a little bit. Was that the case?
Yeah. The positive is, we had a great culture to build on, a culture of service, customer comes first. But we had not been nearly aggressive enough going after the growth geographies and bringing more of the water system solution to the customer. Talking to the leadership, it was very clear that that was a huge opportunity.
You only get one chance at those first few months. When you look back, what did you learn?
I learned that as you get into the job and start to think you know the answers, don’t get locked in. You haven’t been in the company that long. You think because you’ve been in other places that you can figure it out quickly, start to form a theory of what the right answer is. Keep testing that theory, because it does two things. One, it gets the management team aligned. And two, you can get deeper into the organization, you can get customers connected to it, and then you get a much better answer. So don’t make conclusions too quickly. At first I thought I knew the answers, but then the answers got much better as we dug deeper. That was very important.
I was recently in Phoenix, Arizona at a conference on building and protecting reputation. It was hosted by Henkel. My part was to talk about what CEOs should be talking about now. More on that later this coming week but wanted to blog about the talk from Henkel’s NA Consumer Goods president and CEO Brad Casper about working with corporate communications. It was good to hear a CEO talk so positively about the importance of his corporate communications team. Just by taking to time to talk to us at lunch time said boatloads. Casper said that he believes that there are 6A’s in how a CEO and corporate communications function can work together to establish and build trust. The CEO mentioned that his philosophy was that not communicating was far riskier than communication. His 6 A’s are:
- Anticipation (knowing what the organization needs to see and hear). Casper talked about what he did once he agreed to take the job. He was an “outsider” CEO so he was unknown to employees who were dealing with a change in ownership. He mentioned how the first person he asked to talk to was the head of corporate communications because that person would know best what he needed to know, how to resonate with employees and gain traction internally and externally. He was delighted when she showed up with a playbook in hand.
- Access (making sure that he demonstrated that he was available and accessible personally). To develop that bond with employees, Casper along with corporate communications set up regular lunches with high potentials, monthly town meetings, and an online ABCs (Ask Brad Casper) on the intranet. He also started Breakfast with Brad and had lunch with new employees. Being accessible was one way to create that bond that builds CEO reputation and drives productivity and inspiration.
- Awareness (to demonstrate that this was a new beginning since they had just been bought by consumer goods giant Henkel in Germany), the CEO and corporate communications decided to bring everyone together to participate on this journey. They rented out a nearby movie theatre within the first 100 days and had all employees attend to hear about the new strategy, hear about the future, create a vision, and help build a bridge between being what was once a U.S. company (Dial Corporation) and the multinational they were now.
- Alignment (aligning the strategy with the core values and history of Henkel). Casper talked about the resonance of being part of a family. Several generations of the Henkel family had created this Fortune 500 company and this emotional narrative had to be intertwined into the NA Henkel fabric. He used this expression at our conference that stuck in my mind—that they would build their brand not as a company “but as a house.” That has a nice ring to it.
- Affinity (creating a family atmosphere that is inclusive and engaged with the community). Working with corporate communications, the leadership team worked hard to celebrate innovation, community service and other ways of giving back. Accidentally as they moved headquarters to a beautiful new building, instead of giving everyone the day off on a Friday as the movers packed up, they decided to give back to the community by having everyone volunteer their time in the community. This turned out to be one very smart way to build that camaraderie that helps bind employees to companies and remove doubt that business is all about the bottom line.
- Accountability (the CEO is accountable as well as its employees for the company’s success).
Reputation is often said to be greater than the sum of its parts. However, making sure that all the parts work together and are communicated internally and externally builds longer-lasting reputations. CEO communicators can help make reputations stickier and advance a common purpose.
I have written before about different rules or guiding principles that leaders recommend to protect reputation. Warren Buffett’s advice about imagining your planned actions on the front page of The New York Times is a classic. However, here’s another that should carry equal weight. In an interview in the Wall Street Journal, SunGard Data System’s CEO Cristóbal Conde says he’s learned a lot about bad bosses by reading “Dilbert” daily. Now before sending a company-wide e-mail, Conde asks himself, “How would Dilbert react to this?” Imagining your communications missive or plan as the subject in a Dilbert strip is a smart way to prevent doing something that could quickly go awry. Try really hard to imagine how what you want to do looks from the perspective of that fellow sitting in the cubicle.
This brings to mind an encounter I had with a CEO awhile back. He asked me to review a memo he wanted to send as his first form of communications. My response was that the memo was fine but that there were too many “I’s” and not enough “we’s.” I said that nearly all CEOs use the royal “we” to infer that we’re all in this together and need to collaborate to get the job done. For example, he should be saying “We’re going to set a new direction,” NOT “I’m going to set a new direction.” The new CEO looked me in the eye and said, “But I’m the CEO and people have to understand that.” I replied that employees knew that he was the CEO and that it was the CEO’s job to create unity and reduce the distance between the CEO and everyone else if he wanted to be successful. It truly was a Dilbert moment. Happy new year!
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.
In a meeting this week with a CEO in attendance, I asked what kept him up at night? He said that he did not lose any sleep at night and in fact slept really well. Not surprised since being CEO these days has to be 110% exhausting. However, the new CEO turned the question around by saying, “I can tell you instead what gets me up in the morning.” I thought that was a terrific response because it turned the night terrors of my original question into a “hit the ground running” mindset that is a lot more positive. Additionally, the CEO’s response to what were on his agenda’s A-1 priorities were very revealing. This CEO will be able to build his reputation well if he keeps this up.