Having met and recruited numerous CEOs in the course of my career, I have noticed that they generally have one of two views regarding their teams.
There are those who prefer to start with a clean slate and those who do not wish to change anything.
Which is the best approach?
In fact it all depends on where the company is in its business cycle. Of course the arrival of a new CEO is always a significant moment and will bring important changes. It is generally said that, just as with politicians, a new CEO has a hundred days to send a strong message to the team; even less in the case of a company in difficulties and requiring swift action.
A CEO will change a sizeable part of his or her team because they know this is the only way to impose the necessary reforms. It will be far easier to achieve results with former colleagues drafted in – those the new CEO trusts and with whom he or she is used to working.
It is a brave act, but those members of the team who will have to leave must be supported and helped.
On the other hand, changing the entire team can prove to be risky. First of all this will come from the idea that all of the old team was bad, which is rarely the case, and then it puts absolutely everything in the hands of the new CEO.
It seems to me that the right approach is to start with a sort of management audit, getting the existing team to go through an evaluation process so that the new organisation has no ‘square pegs in round holes’.
In short, the best solution (except in the case of a major crisis) is to keep a large part of the existing team – the firm’s corporate memory, and to go hunting for new talent to enable the company to develop.
In every case ‘over-communication’ and transparency regarding objectives are vital if this transition phase is to be a success.
Charles-Henri Dumon, CEO & Founder Morgan Philips Group