You have just been appointed as the CEO of a business that is in crisis. In a very large part, the company’s success – or failure – now sits with you.
You have the ability to control everything that happens. Every pivot the company takes as it changes direction. Every senior staff appointment. Every public statement that the company makes.
You have worked hard to get here. And this is your dream job.
But remember, first impressions are long lasting.
What you do on the first day, in the first weeks and months, will determine how easy it is for you to turn the company around and get it heading in the direction you want.
And hopefully that’s the right direction!
In reality it takes 18 months to start getting traction on real and deep organisational change.
It will take three years for you to be able to confidently say that any turnaround is complete.
But send the wrong message on Day One, and you will regret it for a long, long time.
Your every move, as the CEO, will be scrutinised and monitored by staff within the organisation, and by those potential investors outside who are looking to see how things change on your watch.
Based on your working background and LinkedIn profile, people will already have developed assumptions about you.
What you say and do will be cause ructions throughout the organisation. Remember everyone is looking to you for leadership.
Staff will notice your choice of company car. They will pontificate on the whys and wherefores of marketing campaigns that you approve
or put a stop to. News of your words and deeds, no matter how insignificant, will spread through the company like wildfire.
So be careful, considered and remain calm in your approach. Remember, you have always wanted this job. This is your time so make the most of it.
Here’s a few tips on what you should do first if you are appointed as the CEO of a business in crisis.
Quickly identify the urgent/critical issues and manage them
Be ready for things to get worse before they get better
Develop a turnaround plan as quickly as possible
Concentrate on facts – not opinions
Identify those staff who are ready for change/journey/turnaround and empower them.
Progressively exit those staff members that are more driven by politics, self-interest and obstruction.
It is expected that you will engage with the staff.
How you communicate with them is critical. Whatever you think is a good level of communication. Double it. And perhaps double it again.
You will need to engage immediately with a very diverse and interested bunch of stakeholders. They will all want to have a say. If you don’t constantly communicate with them, they will fill the void with office gossip. Whispers will become truths. And you don’t want that.
Develop a simple and clear message. Repeat it often.