CEO Replacement: A View to Succession
It’s always tough for any company when someone from high up in the management structure decides to move one. A void at the top can be disaster for some companies. Smaller ones feel the effect more than those with a large board and this is particularly true of situations when someone leaves with little notice. Obviously, having a strategy in place to minimise the potential fall-out of a CEO leaving is ideal, but if that isn’t possible then trying to make the recruitment process swift and efficient is the next best thing.
Where to Look
The initial response to the departure of a CEO might be to seek a new one from the existing pool of staff. Those who have held positions in management often have a solid grounding in the industry in which you work, appreciate the various challenges facing your particular organisation and can be recruited without too much time or money being wasted in long interview processes which may not even yield a successful candidate. You also have the benefit of already knowing that someone who works for you is motivated and able to do the job, which is a reassuring position to be in when you consider the amount of responsibility that he or she will be given.
However, looking outside your organisation could be the best thing you can do in order to find the perfect person for the role. Of course, you avoid all the issues inherent in promoting someone above their colleagues, such as difficulties in managing those who have previously been at the same level of management. But you can also cast your net wider and find someone who could really make a difference to the way your company runs and make changes which will inspire your workforce and improve your profitability.
If you work in a fairly specialised industry then you may be able to use a headhunting company to find a new CEO from a company which has a good reputation, allowing you to benefit from their experience and expertise in your field. This also enables you to consider someone who is a ‘known quantity’, which could make the recruitment process a lot faster if that is a priority for you.
There is also something to be said for recruiting from outside your industry, unless specialised knowledge is an absolute necessity for anyone working in the business. The skills that make a good CEO are often unrelated to the specific product or service that you offer. It can be helpful having someone evaluate your business with fresh eyes and an approach that might be considered unconventional. As long as you are confident that their skills will enable them to do the job, being able to see past their lack of industry experience could mean that you find someone who has the vision and insight that you need to take your company to the next level.
Consider Your Investors
If you have investors then you need to be able to make an appointment which will give them confidence. Considering the pros and cons of any decision will be a vital element of your recruitment process. You may already know what you want but need to sell it to more traditional colleagues, or you might need input from those with a stake in the company in order to find the perfect person. However you choose to begin your recruitment drive, having everybody on board with the outcome you are hoping to achieve will make everything easier. Be prepared to answer some tough questions when it comes to justifying your ideas on how best to go about it. If you are expecting to hire someone who will make substantial changes to the culture within the business or the direction that you are taking with your products then you will need to be able to demonstrate the benefits of any of those decisions.
It is always important to rid yourself of the fear of change. Whilst it can be tempting to seek someone who will be able to step into your previous CEO’s shoes and run the organisation in the same way, embracing the possibility that there are better ways of doing things is sometimes necessary. A complete overhaul of your organisation may not be necessary, but it never hurts to have fresh eyes looking at things. You should consider whether you want minimal fuss and an easy transition or the chance to make big changes and challenge the status quo.