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Tips for Transitioning Between Executive-Level Leaders

Tips for Transitioning Between Executive-Level Leaders
From Recruiter - January 26, 2017

Starbucks made news recently when CEO Howard Schultz announcedhe would step aside for the companys current COO Kevin Johnson to take his place. Schultz will remainon as chairman, leaving many to speculate that he intends to look over the new CEOs shoulder for a while. Top-level transitions such as this can be difficult as companies adjust to new ideas, practices, and styles of leadership.

Often, executive-level seats are held for a pretty long time, which meansthat people up anddown the ladder get used to doing things a certain way. When a big name in the C-suite leaves the company, transitioning to a replacement can get messy.

Companies do executive transition in very different ways and theres inherent variability in the process based on organizational size, culture, andwhy and when the outgoing executive is exiting, says Howard Seidel, senior partner for Essex Partners, a division of talent management and career transition services consulting firm Keystone Partners.However, there is often no systematic process for bringing the new person on, and the executive is left trying to create their own onboarding process. An onboarding process neednt be rigid and can allow for some flexibility based on the perceived priorities of the incoming executive, but there should be at least a basic outline and plan.

Developing a Transition Plan

Whenever possible, companies should have a plan in place to make C-suite transitions as smooth as possible. Seidel recommends that transition plans cover the following areas:

Perhaps most importantly, a transition plan must also include measures to make sure the company itself doesnt suffer during the transition period.

In C-level hiring, the board is usually involved directly in meeting candidates as well as providing input on the criteria for prospective candidates in the context of what they see as the companys major needs, Seidel says. Picking high-caliber executives can do a lot to support brand and drive market optimism, but only if its coupled with picking the right people for the companys strategic needs and current or desired culture.



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