Successfully reported this slideshow.
How to Hit the Ground Running:A Guide to Successful Executive On-Boarding     Mark Roellig     EVP and General Counsel    ...
How to Hit the Ground Running:                 A Guide to Successful Executive On-Boarding                  Mark Roellig, ...
Executive On-Boarding Process         -30          0                              Time Line                               ...
Once you have landed the job your most important priority should be to learn more about the company.New hires should go ov...
expectations and how he or she prefers to work with members of their staff. Some of the topics that shouldbe covered durin...
2. What are your objectives? New executives need to make sure they ask this after the first question, asthey will often be...
The Stars Will Have the Best Ideas for ImprovementAnother key set of meetings during the first two weeks on the job is to ...
Strategy → Structure → StaffingWith all the data gathered from all the sources mentioned previously, new executives should...
other factors. After six months or a year in the position new executives can introduce people they haveworked with in the ...
The Third Month: Communicate and Drive ChangeCommunicate and Establish the CultureOnce the CEO and peers are on board with...
and drive change. Over time the purpose of the leadership team meetings will likely evolve to drivingexecution of departme...
bachelor’s degree from the USAF Academy and his PhD in industrial and organizational psychology fromthe University of Minn...
Executive On-Boarding ChecklistPreparing For The First Day: Do Your HomeworkPre-Hire Data GatheringInformation to Gather f...
Events to Put on the New Executive’s Calendar□ Board and committee meetings□ Leadership team meetings□ Analyst call dates□...
The Critical First Day: You Only Have One Chance to Make a First ImpressionMeet with the CEO□ Clarify the CEO’s short and ...
The First Two Weeks: Laying the FoundationMeet the Leaders in Your Department□ Ask direct reports what they are working on...
The First Two Months: Strategy, Structure and StaffingObtain External Perspectives□ Gather benchmark information about the...
The Third Month: Communicate and Drive ChangeCommunicate and Establish the Culture□ Schedule a Town Hall meeting to announ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Executive On Boarding (appendix), Gordon Curphy, PhD

569 views

Published on

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Executive On Boarding (appendix), Gordon Curphy, PhD

  1. 1. How to Hit the Ground Running:A Guide to Successful Executive On-Boarding Mark Roellig EVP and General Counsel MassMutual Gordon Curphy, PhD President Curphy Consulting Corporation © Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010
  2. 2. How to Hit the Ground Running: A Guide to Successful Executive On-Boarding Mark Roellig, EVP and General Counsel, MassMutual Gordy Curphy, President, Curphy ConsultingA Typical On-Boarding Story Passive - Active ScoreJohn set his mind on becoming a CFO at a major corporation since graduating from college 22 years ago.After obtaining an MBA from a top tier school, steadily rising through the ranks with four differentcompanies, multiple relocations, many years of 70+ work weeks, and a long string of personal sacrificesJohn was recruited to become the CFO of Segog, Inc., a Fortune 1000 manufacturer. Segog Inc. had steadybeen losing market share to several Chinese manufacturers and missed its numbers in five of the last eightquarters. The company was also experiencing cash flow problems and the stock had dropped over 40percent. Although the previous CFO had been in the position for six years and was well liked, Steve wasasked to leave the company shortly after a strategic divestiture went sour. Trying to minimize the disruptionwith the street, John joined Seagog Inc. two weeks after Steve left the company.The Board of Directors, CEO, and the other C-level executives were under a considerable amount ofpressure and saw John as someone who could turn around Segog, Inc.’s financial performance. Impressedwith John’s background and plans, they gave him relatively free rein to do whatever was needed to restoreinvestor confidence. During his first three months at Segog, Inc. John replaced many of the leaders in thefinance organization with people who had worked for him the past. He knew these previous associateswould be loyal and help him succeed in his new position.John focused on the job and his new department, working very long hours and hoping when things settleddown he would then have an opportunity to begin to engage more with all the leaders in the organization.Many of John’s early decisions helped cut costs and improve cash flow, but after six months the Board ofDirectors and CEO started hearing grumblings about the finance organization. The head of HR was askedto investigate the rumors and reported that John and his inner circle had managed to alienate many of theother C-level leaders and morale within the finance organization was at an all time low. When the CEObrought this feedback to John he got very defensive and blamed the CEO for not providing the politicalcover needed to drive change across the organization. John believed his initial results were just thebeginning and the company could expect even better results over the next year. He also went on to saythat he wasn’t running for a popularity contest and needed to break some eggs in order to get thecompany’s fiscal house in order.But over time the noise from the finance organization only increased in intensity. The marketing, sales,and operations departments were in an uproar about some of the finance organization’s decisions and it wasnot long before Segog, Inc.’s financial performance began to collapse. John was in the position for lessthan a year when the CEO asked him to leave, and many were only too happy to see him go.Unfortunately, there are many people like John who have worked incredibly hard to gain entry to the C-suite only to be shown the door a short time later. One might argue that some of these individuals werenever C-suite material to begin with, but more often than not easily avoidable on-boarding mistakes doomwell-qualified new hires to failure. Because there is no roadmap for successfully moving into a C-levelposition, the purpose of this article is to describe a process that helps C-level executives successfullyintegrate into a new company. Business Unit Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Directors can also makesuccessful transitions into new companies by adapting many of these same lessons. Internal candidatespromoted into positions of increased authority can also benefit by adopting some of the key steps in thetransition process.In general, the first ninety days are critical to the successful integration of any new executive, as it is withinthis short period of this time that the seeds for great success or derailed careers are sown. As such, new© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 2
  3. 3. Executive On-Boarding Process -30 0 Time Line 90 Preparing for The First The First Two The First Two The Third the First Day Day Weeks Months Month Pre-hire data Meet the CEO Meet team Obtain Establish gathering leaders external culture Town Hall perspectives Team off-site: Post-hire meeting with Meet peers Strategy, Values activities entire structure Strategy department Meet Stars and staffing Ops rhythm Socialize Improvement Other meetings decisions areas Substantive Sub-team Other info issues analyses Get feedbackexecutives need to take this time extremely seriously. There are several major objectives that newexecutives need to accomplish during their first three months, and these include:• Gaining alignment with the CEO.• Building relationships with peers.• Developing department strategy and structure.• Creating a new department leadership team.• Staffing the department.• Changing the department culture.As depicted in the graphic, successfully transitioning into a new company consists of five distinct phases.Preparing For The First Day describes all the steps executives need to take once they have been hired butbefore they have shown up for work. Many of these activities center around getting up to speed with thecompany and function, arranging first day meetings, and ensuring administrative details are completed.The First Day focuses on of two major events, which include meeting with the boss and meeting with theentire function. In The First Two Weeks new executives spend time getting to know the staff and buildingbridges with peers. Strategy, structure, and staffing decisions happen during The First Two Months, andcommunicating and establishing the function’s values, metrics, operating rhythm, and culture happen inThe Third Month. A more detailed description of the key events associated with each of the five phasescan be found above.Preparing For The First Day: Do Your HomeworkPre-Hire Data GatheringExecutives usually begin gathering the information they need to make successful transitions well beforethey are even offered positions. In preparing for the interview process candidates are likely to havenavigated through the company’s web site, reviewed the bios of the key executives, and read the 10K andproxy statement. In addition, at some point during the interviews they should ask why the company isgoing outside for the position, what can make the function or department better, what works particularlywell in the department and what does not, what would they like to see changed in the function, and whatabout the function keeps interviewers awake at night. Candidates also need to ask if there are anysignificant substantive issues that require immediate attention. Candidates should not take notes during theinterviews but should write down what they heard after each meeting. In particular, focus on what the bosssays – these points should be the focus of immediate attention upon arrival.Post-Hire Activities© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 3
  4. 4. Once you have landed the job your most important priority should be to learn more about the company.New hires should go over the material studied and obtained during the interview process and begin deeperdives with help from the company. They should review any analysts’ presentations listed on the company’sinvestor relations web page and read the by-laws, the corporate governance guidelines, committee chartersand other relevant information on the governance page. Asking the investor relations team to provideanalyst reports on the industry, the company and its key competitors and going back to recent analyst orearnings calls will also help the recently hired become aware of what the CEO, CFO and analysts arefocusing on for the company. Continuing down this path, new executives also need to learn andunderstand the company’s strategy. Asking for material presented in a board strategy session or fromsomeone in charge of company strategy can provide new executives with this information.In addition to understanding the industry, business context, and company strategy, new executives alsoneed to start more in-depth learning about their department. They should ask their human resources contactto provide bios or resumes of all the key leaders in the function. Also ask human resources to provide theorganizational charts for the company and the function, the performance appraisals, succession material andcompensation information for the key leaders in the department. Finally ask for copies of any presentationsrelating to the department made to the board or senior management and the department’s budget and actualspend, not only for the current year but the past two years as well. Focus on the areas and geographicallocation of spend and the use of outside consultants.Highlight: Should You Hire Your Previous Executive Assistant?More often than not, the executive assistant will be the assistant of the departing executive. On balancethis usually is a good thing, as the predecessor’s assistant will know the company and department well andcan help guide new executives through the “unwritten rules” of where to park, what can be expensed, whatto wear and how to interact with the CEO, the board and other leaders. Predecessors’ assistants can alsoflag and advise of any concerns or questions they see regarding compliance with any policies of which newexecutives may not be aware. (It is usually a good idea to put this request in a memorandum, as newexecutives cannot afford to get “hung up” in this area). Although new executives will have to evaluate thechallenges of divided loyalties, they are generally better off keeping incumbent assistants than taking therisk of either bringing along ex-assistants or hiring brand new assistants.Oftentimes new executives have assistants assigned to them prior to their first day. If not, then they shouldask the human resources department to provide someone who can help in the preparation of the first day.New executives should contact this person, introduce themselves and make sure that that they will have allthe items they will need on day one – computer, office phone, blackberry, cell phone, etc. They shouldalso ask the assistant to provide any materials on the department (there may have been a strategy offsite orobjectives drafted for the department) that can be helpful to read in advance of the first day. This personshould arrange all of the new executives meetings for the first two weeks. Some of these meetings includean in-person “Town Hall” with the entire department and initial meetings with the CEO, direct reports, keybusiness C-level peers/clients and controllers/budget coordinators. Assistants should also be tasked withplacing these events as well as all board meetings, leadership team meetings, analyst call dates, etc. on newexecutives’ calendars.The Critical First Day: You Only Have One Chance to Make a First ImpressionMeet with the CEOOn the first day new executives will want to meet with the CEO for at least an hour if possible. Afterexchanging the normal pleasantries, the focus should be on clarifying the CEO’s short and long-tem© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 4
  5. 5. expectations and how he or she prefers to work with members of their staff. Some of the topics that shouldbe covered during this initial meeting should include:• Identifying key objectives, metrics and any important projects or short-term issues on which new executives need to quickly get up to speed.• Understanding department strengths and weaknesses and identifying areas of focus.• Gathering opinions of individuals within the department and tactfully determining if anyone is immune from any restructuring decisions down the road.• Obtaining an overview of the board members and their areas of interest or concern.• Working through communication styles and preferences (e-mail, voice mail, memos, meetings, etc).• Describing the new executive’s plans for the day and next several weeks. New executives will want to show that they have a plan and know what they are doing.At the end of this meeting new executives should schedule the next meeting or conversation with the CEOand ask whether weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings would be valuable.Meet with the Entire DepartmentSometime during the first day new executives should do a “Town Hall” type meeting with everyone in theirfunction. The purpose of this meeting is for the new executive to set initial expectations and define whattype of type of department they are looking to create. New executives should start the meeting by sharing abrief summary of their background and experience and then transition into the attributes, values, andculture they deem important to success. For example, some executives may want to create a departmentthat is strategic, proactive, creative, diverse, hard working, performance-driven, results-oriented, andresponsive to clients. Other executives may articulate a different set of values. This opportunity shouldalso be used to clarify expectations regarding illegal/unethical actions, harassment or inappropriatebehavior in the workplace and to describe the new executive’s leadership style. It is also helpful foremployees to hear about their new boss’ personality (and associated challenges), preferred ways ofinteracting, work habits, family, recreational activities, and what they plan to do and who they plan to meetover the next few weeks. The meeting should end with a question and answer session, but new executivesare unlikely to get any questions and that is fine for a meeting like this, as it is more of a one-waycommunication than a “meeting.”The First Two Weeks: Laying the FoundationNew executives should spend their first two weeks on the job meeting with many people inside and outsidethe company. Because many of these people have other commitments, the administrative assistant needs toschedule these meeting well in advance. The key objectives for these meetings are to: (a) learn as much aspossible; (b) develop relationships; and (c) determine future allies. As with all meetings, new executivesneed to be very cautious about what they say or write, as they have no idea with whom they can confide.Rest assured there is someone out there who, for whatever reason, is not happy with the new executive’sarrival and will not want him or her to succeed.Meet the Leaders in Your DepartmentNew executives should use their office to conduct three-hour meetings with each of their direct reports.They should prepare by reviewing the bios and resumes of direct reports and then using the meetings to askeach person the following seven questions:1. What are you working on? The answer to this first question could take half the time and include adescription of all the major projects in which he/she is engaged. This allows new executives to quickly getup to speed on the major issues in the department and the company. Some individuals may not havesignificant or large matters they are working on – with these ask them to “bucketize” their time. What typeof issues – in percentages – do they spend their time on during any given week? (Usually new executiveswill set up further or follow-up meetings with these direct reports on important issues discussed in thissegment.)© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 5
  6. 6. 2. What are your objectives? New executives need to make sure they ask this after the first question, asthey will often be surprised at how unrelated an individuals objectives are to what he/she is working onday-in and day-out.3. Who are the “Stars” a layer or two down in the organization? New executives will usually hear thesame name(s) from multiple people, which lends more confidence that the named individual is indeed aStar. Getting this right is critically important, as Stars play a vital role during the first two months of a newexecutive’s tenure.4. What are the “people issues” in the department? Asking this question is a little more challenging, asnew executives do not want staff members to think they are asking them to disparage others. But newexecutives need to find out if there is someone who is not displaying appropriate behavior, withholdinginformation, impossible to work with, leading a dysfunctional team, etc. Executives need to do their beston this one in order to avoid being surprised with an employment issue within the department. Assume thatthis question will quickly leak to the other direct report meetings, but new executives still need to ask it.Addressing any festering people problems in the first sixty days will make it clear who is in charge andwhat behavior new executives will not accept.5. What can the department do better? The answers to this question not only provide new executives withideas to improve the department, they also indicate whether the person has ideas or can think about, acceptand drive change. This will often be a tough question for new direct reports, because if something shouldhave been changed then it important to know why it hasn’t happened yet.6 and 7. What advice do you have for me and what can I do to help you? New executives should close themeeting with these two questions and pay particular note to the things they can do to help their directreports. They should avoid making any immediate promises but should close the loop on those requeststhey will and will not fulfill sometime during the next two months.Although new executives will want to start building rapport, they should minimize their “personal”interactions with direct reports during the first two months on the job. Employees eager to buildrelationships with their new boss will often offer to host dinner, assist in house hunting, do tours of thelocal schools and community, etc. These offers should be respectfully declined. Business lunches are fine,but getting together with spouses or families can make later decisions more difficult. New executives needto make any restructuring decisions with only business factors in mind.Meet Other ExecutivesDuring the first two weeks on the job new executives will also want to meet with their key C-levelpeer/executives. These meetings are important first steps in building relationships that will prove critical tolong-term success, and should be treated as such. In general, these meetings should be about an hour inlength and take place in peers’ offices. This approach allows new executives to observe cues (sailing,skiing, pet or family pictures, awards, knick knacks, etc.) that will allow them to better connect with theirpeers. New executives should ask peers about:• Their objectives, challenges and what the department can do to help them be successful. What the department does well, what it can do better and their views of individuals in the department.• How to best communicate with the CEO and other peers.• How problems are identified, analyzed and decisions made.New executives should make it clear they want and appreciate their peer’s help, as people like being askedto help. Scheduling regular meetings in order to better appreciate peers’ values, goals and interests willallow new executives to better communicate and interact with their peers. It is also important to note thatthe CEO will be asking peers how the new executive is doing, which makes it even more important tocontinue building bridges with peers. Along these lines, it is entirely acceptable to have more “personal”interactions and accept “house hunting” assistance, family dinners, etc. from peers.© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 6
  7. 7. The Stars Will Have the Best Ideas for ImprovementAnother key set of meetings during the first two weeks on the job is to have one-on-one sessions with anyother key members of the department and the Stars, the strong performing individuals whom direct reportsand others have identified. Stars will be the ones who will generally benefit the most by any change andwill likely have the most ideas for improvements. It is probably best to meet these individuals in a socialsetting, but take a pad of paper - their ideas will fill it. These Stars are also likely candidates for the newleadership team. If chosen then they will be incredibly loyal and well respected by others since they wereviewed as the organization’s Stars.Other MeetingsThere are several other meetings that new executives should schedule early in their job tenure. It is usuallybeneficial to meet with those individuals who were in the department at one point but transitioned toanother leadership position in the company. These folks will know the players, will be happy to providetheir insights, and can provide extremely beneficial non-biased information.New executives should also meet with their budget coordinators in order to fully understand thedepartment’s budget and areas of spend (internal and external), year-to-date spend and forecasted full-yearspend. Compare this to past years’ results and benchmark data. This can provide high-level insight intoareas that may or may not be led well.Other Information You NeedThere are two other areas of information new executives need to gather through their series of meetings.First, they should identify what the company views as the most important roles in the department. Thisinformation will be important as decisions are made on where to allocate the department’s best talent, andthis information may be obtained from the CEO, members of the department’s leadership team and peers.Second, new executives need to know whether there were any internal candidates for their position andwhy were they not chosen. New executives need to find out if someone is “festering,” hoping they fail, orwhat the company was looking for in the position that was not present in the internal candidates. Thisinformation may come from the CEO, human resources, a search firm, members of the departmentleadership team or peers. Keep in mind, some of the peers may have supported an internal candidate, sonew executives need to be careful how they solicit this information from peers. It may be best to phrasequestions around why the company felt it necessary to go outside for this position as compared to focusingon particular members of department.The First Two Months: Strategy, Structure and StaffingObtain External PerspectivesAs new executives learn about the industry, the company and department they will want to be accumulatingbenchmark information on how other in entities in the industry, of similar size and presence, structure theirdepartments and their internal and external costs. The Conference Board and other associations canprovide some of this benchmarking data. C-level counterparts at other major corporations in the area canbe another source of benchmarking data. Many are more than happy to meet fellow professionals overlunch or after work.New executives may also want to meet with any consultants who are doing work for the department. Theseindividuals will both help new executives get up to speed on the some of the issues that the department isfacing and be able to explain the qualities of department employees with whom they interact. Be verycareful making any quick changes to the consultants the company has historically retained. Almost allconsulting firms have excellent consultants. Often the consultants currently working know the companyand interact well with members of the department. There is no reason to disrupt that relationship withoutcareful analysis - well beyond the first sixty days.© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 7
  8. 8. Strategy → Structure → StaffingWith all the data gathered from all the sources mentioned previously, new executives should be in aposition to determine the proper strategy, structure and staffing for the department. On restructuring, keepin mind that structure should follow strategy and the needs of the business. What is the optimal structurefor provisioning department services based upon the company strategy and business? Centralization ordecentralization and matrix structures can all be effective based upon the business needs and culture. Theinputs received from the CEO, peers and the Stars will probably help the most in thinking about departmentstructure. Because they will be personally impacted, direct reports will more likely have more biasedviews of how to organize.The department’s key strategies and structure need to be finalized before any positions are populated.Almost always, improvements can be made in all three areas. Along these lines, it is important toremember that a predecessor’s decisions were not necessarily wrong. They were probably right at the timemade, but the company, strategy, and people have changed, and predecessors may not have evolved thedepartment to accommodate these changes or may have found it just too difficult to execute the necessarychanges. Everyone has “dogs” – department issues that leaders tend to avoid for months/years thatsuccessors address in their first sixty days.If the department is fairly large then new executives should be able to find all the talent they need topopulate the direct report team from within the organization. There are several consequences associatedwith these internal promotions. First, new executives need to remember that every internal promotion oftenHighlight: Don’t Disparage the PastIt may be easy or correct to be critical or say negative things about the earlier department and how itoperated, or to immediately implement a program or process that was very successful for a new executivein the past. But these actions tend to have very little up-side and some significant down-sides. First andforemost, new executives want their leadership team and department focusing on the future and not on thepast. Second, there are often individuals who made these past decisions who are still in the department, andnew executives need these individuals to support the new changes and not feel uncomfortable. Third, thereare often very good reasons for the decisions of the past. New executives will do better to understand andlearn from them than to immediately reject them. New executives should also keep in mind a program orprocess that worked for them in the past may not work well with the new company or its culture, and anysuccessful change will need understanding and buy-in from the leadership team. Making numerousreferences to “the way we did it at company X” only angers employees and reduces buy-in.If it is appropriate, based upon the circumstance under which new executives assumed their position, thenthey should consider meeting with their predecessor during the first sixty days. For one thing, there is noreason to take the criticism that something was changed without any input from the person who made thedecision. And predecessors will value the fact that their successor showed respect to him or her and therewill always be people who liked the predecessor. New executives should also remember they too will be a“predecessor” some day.results in another two or three secondary promotions. Second, internal promotions also sends the messagethat department members are valued. Third, new executives will get criticized for “cronyism” if they gooutside and bring in outside leaders from former employers. Executives who surround themselves withfolks they have worked with in the past, even if they are better than anyone currently on the leadershipteam, will cause the entire department to believe that the culture is not a performance-driven meritocracy.Even leaving a position empty to be filled later with an external search is a better message to thedepartment than hiring someone from the past. As staffing decisions are made, new executives also needto keep an eye on diversity. Only a diverse team will give the different perspectives new executives willneed to be successful. It also helps establish a visible culture of opportunities based on performance, not on© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 8
  9. 9. other factors. After six months or a year in the position new executives can introduce people they haveworked with in the past, but be cautious bringing these individuals into the group. Regardless of what newexecutives do, these hires will be viewed as “friends” and could negatively impact department morale andculture.“Socialize” and Obtain Support for Your DecisionsWithin the first sixty days new executives should meet with the CEO to discuss their recommendations forchanges in the department. In all likelihood this will be the best opportunity for driving change for the nextfive years, so new executives need to: (a) be bold; (b) address problems now; and (c) do what is right.Make sure that the CEO understands and supports the recommended changes. After the CEO meeting, newexecutives should talk with their peers about their department changes, although they may well havecovered the what and why of these changes during ongoing conversations with them. Since success willdepend more on the new leadership team than peers these are more “advising” than “consulting”conversations. However, if peers are going to be working with new individuals who are different fromwhom they liked and trusted in the past, then new executives need to explain the rationale for thesechanges.Don’t Forget the to Address the Substantive IssuesOf course, new executives must do all of the above at the same time they are engrossed in learning aboutthe department and business issues, strategies, goals, products, services, processes and policies andpreparing for board and executive leadership team meetings. New executives can’t neglect these activitiesand need to do them exceptionally well. Although this transition will be extremely stressful, the highvisibility of a C-level position requires that new executives stay positive, engaged and energetic. No onesaid the job was going to be simple, and past experiences and abilities should help new executives copewith the demands of the position. Being a C-level executive now in corporate America is not for the faint-of-heart, and it may be advantageous if new executives are commuting long-distance to the job for the firstseveral months as it allows for sixteen-hour days and airplane reading.Reach Out for FeedbackIt is worth noting that new executives will probably receive very little or no feedback on how they aredoing during their first sixty days. New executives will be driving blind and very possibly making repairsand course corrections as they rocket down the highway. The best sources for feedback will be peers andpossibly the search firm that may have placed the new executive. They should keep in contact with thesearch firm, as they will have sources back into the company. Ask them to reach out and provide feedbackon how it is going. The search firm is a friend and will have every incentive to ensure a new executive issuccessful.Notify Department Leadership Team MembersOnce the CEO and peers buy in to the department changes, new executives need to have individualmeetings with all the old and new members of the department leadership team. These meetings should beconducted in the new executive’s office and take place a day or two before the new department strategy andstructure becomes public. During the meetings with new department leadership team members newexecutives should share their selection rationale, performance expectations, preferred workingarrangements, and the role the leadership team needs to play in the department. New executives also needto meet with those individuals who will no longer be part of the department leadership team. Thesemeetings are necessary but will likely be very uncomfortable for both parties. New executives need toshare their rationale for why these individuals are no longer members of the department leadership teamand what their role will be in the new department structure. If new executives want the individual tocontinue working in the department, albeit in a different capacity, then they should say so and encouragethem to stay. If not, then new executives will want to have worked out severance options with humanresources before these meetings, as it is likely that some of these people will opt to leave the department.© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 9
  10. 10. The Third Month: Communicate and Drive ChangeCommunicate and Establish the CultureOnce the CEO and peers are on board with the change recommendations, it is time for new executives tocommunicate their departments’ key areas of focus and how it will be structured and staffed. Thecommunication to the department is again usually best done in person in a Town Hall meeting or similarsetting, with the ability for those who cannot attend to listen in.In this meeting, or in any announcements for that matter, new executives need to specifically and directlytie their recommended changes back to the attributes and values outlined in the first Town Hall meeting.That is, new executives should explain why the new leadership team or particular structure or staffingdecisions are consistent with an organization which will be performance-driven, results-focused, partnerswith the business, strategic, proactive, creative, hard working, responsive to clients, ethical and diverseteam players. New executives can change a culture more easily and quickly than they think. Change is notabout what executives say or the charts they put up, but rather the actions that they and their teams take thatare consistent with those words and charts. And the actions employees’ watch most is who gets hired,rewarded, promoted and terminated. Employees watch their leaders like hawks. If executives want a hard-working and cost efficient culture, then they must work long days and not waste the company’s resourcesin visible areas, such as office decor, travel, etc.Actions for the Department Leadership TeamExecutives should meet with their new leadership team rather promptly after the second Town Hallmeeting. The purpose of this meeting is to begin the process of molding this new group of leaders into acohesive, high performing team. In order to avoid interruptions stemming from issues du jour, this initialmeeting is usually a one and a half day off-site that is directed at the following six areas:1. Determine the role of the department leadership team. Perhaps the most important objective of the off-site is to work out what role the leadership team will play in the overall management of the department.For example, should the leadership team collectively determine department strategy and staffing decisions,or should team members only be asked to exchange information and team leaders make all key decisions?Getting the role of the leadership team right is critical to both department performance and morale. Ourrecommendation is that the leadership team should be the decision-making body for all major departmentissues, such as strategy, structure, staffing, succession planning, budgets, compensation and culture. Thereare times when team leaders need to make unpopular decisions or make calls when the leadership teamcannot agree on a course of action, but in general team members will be more engaged and committedwhen they have a hand in important department decisions.2. Get agreement on the attributes or values of the department. During the first Town Hall meeting newexecutives outlined the attributes they valued for individuals in the department. Now they need to ensurethe team is aligned on the department’s values. The values as well as their associated positive and negativebehaviors need to be clearly defined. Because the culture of a company or a department stems from thecollective values of its leadership, the leadership team must agree on and be aligned with the values thatwill drive the department’s future employment, performance, and compensation decisions.3. Get agreement on how the team will develop a department strategy with concrete specific objectives andmetrics to support and advance the business. Most likely, the other departments in the company will bemetrics driven, and the department will earn their respect by defining and tracking metrics to show thevalue added to the business or areas that need management attention.4. Establish an operating rhythm. Once the department’s strategy and objectives are determined, the teamthen needs to agree on when and why it gets together. Leadership teams can improve efficiency andeffectiveness by establishing meeting frequency, attendance, goals, roles, rules, and formats ahead of time.During the first several months the team should get together at least bi-weekly to address department issues© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 10
  11. 11. and drive change. Over time the purpose of the leadership team meetings will likely evolve to drivingexecution of department strategy and the team’s underlying objectives.5. Launch task forces to address areas of concern or improvement. The leadership team should identify anumber of areas in need of improvement based on the department’s new structure, objectives, and metrics.Rather than resolving these issues during the off-site, new executives will get more buy-in if task forces areused to formulate solutions to these problems. These task forces should be staffed with high-potentialindividuals--the Stars in the department. This allows new executives to determine how strong these high-potential people are, or aren’t, and shows that new executives have been listening.6. Ask each direct report to conduct a structure and staffing analysis for their organization. Now is thebest time for the leadership team to “size” the entire department correctly, as their chances for significantchange and improvement do not come often and it will get more difficult to make these changes if they arenot part of the initial transformation. Evaluate the benchmark data and ensure that when fully populated theorganization is below benchmark, or otherwise structured, to allow for future expansion with high qualityemployees who meet your attributes and values. If the level of talent to fill certain positions currently doesnot reside in the organization, then do not to hesitate to leave positions open to be replaced later. As theleadership team completes their staffing decisions, again communicate and make clear why any decisionsor changes support the company’s strategy, help advance the business objectives and are consistent with thedepartment’s values.Remember that any executive’s results will only be as good as the strength of the individuals on theirleadership team. Now is the best time to choose and empower the team that will make the company – andthe department - very successful.After Ninety Days: Focus on the FutureAt this point new executives should be well on the way to establishing the department’s new culture.Executives should now focus on the continuing department work, the strategic provision of departmentservices to advance the business, the efficient deployment of department resources and continueddepartment improvements. The lonely work is completed—executives should now be working closely withtheir leadership teams, which in turn are running well-structured departments. At this point the success ofthe executive, team and department are inextricably tied together.We started this article with a story about John, a new CFO who failed in less than a year of being hired.We have found that many C-level executives and other leaders who fail during their first year oftenoverlook or dismiss many of the steps described in this article. This is unfortunate, as many of thesemistakes can be easily avoided. Although our advice may sound “formulaic” or easy, carrying out thesesteps can be very difficult.New executives have a unique chance to build leadership teams that can drive department change andachieve great results. Executives who do this right will learn a lot, love doing it, and create direct reportswho are likely to emulate this process as they become senior leaders in other companies. _____________________Mark Roellig is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Massachusetts Mutual Life InsuranceCompany (“MassMutual”). Before joining MassMutual in 2005, Mark served as general counsel andsecretary to the following three public companies prior to their sale/mergers: Fisher Scientific InternationalInc., Storage Technology Corporation (“StorageTek”) and U S WEST Inc. Mark received his bachelor’sdegree in applied mathematics from the University of Michigan, earned his law degree from GeorgeWashington University, and his M.B.A. from the University of Washington.Gordy Curphy is the President of Curphy Consulting Corporation, a leadership consulting firm based in StPaul, MN. Prior to starting his own business in 2003, Gordy was a Vice President and General Managerfor Personnel Decisions International and an Associate Professor at the USAF Academy. Gordy earned his© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 11
  12. 12. bachelor’s degree from the USAF Academy and his PhD in industrial and organizational psychology fromthe University of Minnesota.© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 12
  13. 13. Executive On-Boarding ChecklistPreparing For The First Day: Do Your HomeworkPre-Hire Data GatheringInformation to Gather from Public Documents□ Review the company’s web site□ Review the bios of the key executives□ Read key SEC filings - the 10K and proxyQuestions to Ask During Interviews□ Why is the company going outside for this position?□ What can make the function better?□ What works particularly well in the function, and what does not?□ What about the function would interviewers like to see changed?□ Are there any significant functional issues that require immediate attention?□ What about the function keeps the interviewer awake at night?Post-Hire Activities□ Review analysts’ presentations listed on the company’s investor relations web page□ Read the by-laws, the corporate governance guidelines, committee charters and other relevant information on the governance page□ Obtain analyst reports on the industry in general, the company and key competitors□ Listen to analyst and earnings calls□ Review strategy material□ Read the last year of board and committee minutes□ Review presentations to the board and the committees over the last year□ Obtain bios/resumes of all the key leaders in the function□ Obtain organizational charts for the company and function□ Obtain function compensation information□ Obtain the performance appraisals and succession material for the function□ Obtain presentations relating to the function made to the board or senior management□ Obtain the function’s budget and actual spend, for current year and past two yearsActions Items for the Executive AssistantItems for Day One□ Computer□ Office phone□ Blackberry□ Cell phone□ Key company policiesEvents to Schedule Over the First Two Weeks□ One hour in-person Town Hall on Day One - provide for phone or videoconference for non attendees□ One hour initial meetings with the CEO on Day One□ Three hour meetings with each direct report□ One hour meetings with key business C-level peers/clients□ One hour meeting with the budget coordinator© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 13
  14. 14. Events to Put on the New Executive’s Calendar□ Board and committee meetings□ Leadership team meetings□ Analyst call dates□ Annual meeting date□ Other key dates or items© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 14
  15. 15. The Critical First Day: You Only Have One Chance to Make a First ImpressionMeet with the CEO□ Clarify the CEO’s short and long-tem expectations for the position□ Identify objectives, metrics and any important projects or short-term issues to quickly get up to speed on□ Discuss the strengths/weaknesses of the function□ Identify where to focus on regarding the function□ Get the CEO’s views of key individuals in the function (try to find out if anyone is “immune”)□ Understand what the CEO sees as the most important roles in the function□ Clarify the CEO’s preferred communication modes (email, voice mail, memos, meetings, etc.)□ Ask the CEO to share the expectations the board has about the function□ Ask the CEO to share his or her impressions of the board members and their areas of interest or concern□ Ask the CEO how the company communicates with the board□ Tell the CEO about your plans for the day and the next several weeks□ Ask the CEO if he or she thinks weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings would be valuable□ Schedule next meeting or conversation with the CEOMeet with the Entire DepartmentYou□ Background□ Experiences□ ExpertiseThe Attributes You Value□ Share the attributes you value with the department. Name no more than ten attributes, clearly define andgive examples of each attribute, and describe why the attribute is importantExpectations□ Share the expectations you have for all employees in the function. Be specific about what you will andwill not tolerate regarding employee behaviorOther Items□ Tell the department what you intend to do over the next two months□ Tell the department what modes of communication they should use to best interact with you□ Share the personal you—faults, family, hobbies, etc.Questions© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 15
  16. 16. The First Two Weeks: Laying the FoundationMeet the Leaders in Your Department□ Ask direct reports what they are working on or how they “bucketize” their time□ Ask direct reports to share their objectives□ Ask direct reports to identify the “Stars” in the function□ Ask direct reports if there are any “people issues” in the function□ Ask direct reports what the function can do better□ Ask direct reports for their advice for running the function□ Ask direct reports what you can do to help them be successfulMeet Other Executives□ Ask peers about their objectives and challenges□ Ask peers what the function can do to help them be successful□ Ask peers what the function does well□ Ask peers what the function can do better□ Ask peers what they see as the most important roles in the function□ Ask peers to share their views of individuals in the function□ Ask peers how to best communicate with the CEO□ Ask peers how company executives communicate with each other□ Ask peers how company problems get analyzed and decisions made□ Ask peers about any “unwritten rules” or practices you should be aware of□ Tell peers you want and appreciate their helpOther Key Actions During the First Two Weeks□ Meet the Stars□ Meet others who were once in the function but now have other jobs in the company□ Meet with the person in charge of the function’s budget□ Identify if there were any internal candidates for the position and why were they not chosen© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 16
  17. 17. The First Two Months: Strategy, Structure and StaffingObtain External Perspectives□ Gather benchmark information about the structure and costs of similar functions in the industry□ Meet with the consultants doing work for the functionStrategy → Structure → Staffing□ Determine the overarching strategies and objectives for the function□ Determine the best structure to achieve these objectives□ Identify the right people to put into key roles in the new structure□ When possible, promote from within“Socialize” and Obtain Support for Your Decisions□ Meet with the CEO to review the function’s new strategy, structure, and staffing□ Meet with peers to review the function’s new strategy, structure, and staffingDon’t Forget the to Address the Substantive Issues□ Ensure the function continues to deliver during your transitionReach Out for Feedback□ Ask the CEO, peers, recruiters, etc. for feedbackNotify Department Leadership Team Members□ Meet with all new department leadership team members□ Determine positions for former department leadership team members□ Determine severance options for former department leadership team members with human resources□ Meet with all former department leadership team members© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 17
  18. 18. The Third Month: Communicate and Drive ChangeCommunicate and Establish the Culture□ Schedule a Town Hall meeting to announce the new strategy, structure, and staffing□ Ensure all structure and staffing decisions are aligned with the function’s attributesActions for the Department Leadership Team□ Identify dates and a location for the off-site with direct reports□ Determine the role of the department leadership team□ Gain alignment on the attributes driving future employment, performance, and compensation decisions□ Gain alignment on the function’s strategy and major objectives□ Establish a new operating rhythm□ Launch task forces to address key challenges facing the function□ Ask direct reports to evaluate the structure and staffing in their departments© Mark Roellig and Gordy Curphy 2010 18

×