CEO Transitions

The importance of communicating a CEO transition to increase trust and confidence with key stakeholders

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In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in CEO transitions, which can occur under a variety of circumstances, including an intentional planned succession, a board-appointed interim replacement, an unexpected departure, an extensive external search and more.

For associates, this time of significant change can elevate stress and anxiety, impacting performance and confidence in the company. Many associates hold off on sharing ideas and making big decisions until they understand and trust the new CEO’s vision and strategy for the organization. The same is true for external audiences including customers, suppliers, investors and communities.

Interestingly, despite the high stakes in senior transitions, research shows nearly half of all external executive hires and 35% of internal hires are considered failures. Crisp and thoughtful communications are a critical element during leadership transitions.

An integrated communications strategy can help support a smooth CEO transition and increase trust and confidence in the new senior leader. These plans are typically designed to:

  • Help clarify the leader’s strategy and vision for the organization
  • Introduce the new leader to internal and external stakeholders, helping those important audiences better understand the CEO’s vision, goals and objectives
  • Identify and prioritize cadence and timing of meetings with internal and external audiences
  • Develop compelling communications for internal and external use (messaging, FAQ, press release, videos, etc.)
  • Support the transition across the organization for at least the first 100 days

For 70 years, we have partnered with public and private organizations to support successful CEO transitions across a variety of situations. Some recent examples include:

  • Working closely with a leading manufacturer’s board of directors, we developed and implemented a communications strategy to announce the appointment of a new CEO after the previous CEO was removed. Communications helped quickly and effectively manage the change with all stakeholders and assisted the new CEO to quickly and effectively step into the role.
  • After a beloved CEO retired, there were big shoes to fill at a national real estate company. We supported the leadership team in helping the incoming CEO articulate a vision for the organization and quickly connect with employees, partners, communities and investors.
  • Following a change in leadership, we worked with a major regional bank to announce its newly appointed CEO and supported communications efforts over the next six months. Continuous communications across all stakeholder groups resulted in an efficient and effective transition and positioned the CEO for future success.

Connect with the team that worked on this project

Senior Vice President

Karin Bonev

Senior Managing Director

Matt Barkett
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