The first 90 days of a CEO in lockdown
Those initial three months in any new senior management role can be daunting, challenging and exciting. And when there’s a pandemic added to the mix, a whole new level of leadership is required – one which Jon Pickering has taken on, since becoming CEO of workplace data analytics firm Tiger, in February 2020. Here, he covers what individuals – in a similar position to him – must prioritise in a ‘new way of working’.
You’ve started a new job and can’t wait to get your teeth into the task. You arrive at the office armed with an array of business growth ambitions and critical objectives – alongside an eagerness to become immersed in the company culture.
But when the world is hit by a global crisis, how can you confidently take the reins when you’re still trying to learn everything you need to know about your new surroundings? Here are some tips to get you started…
- Understand the organisation’s operations
Despite the vast amount of communications technology now available, there’s nothing quite like face-to-face interactions with colleagues to build relationships. Joining a new business as a CEO during a national lockdown can be tricky, but there are many tools that can help you to meet difficult challenges.
In today’s climate, many workforces will be well-versed in utilising video conferencing systems – such as Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex – and these can be pivotal when replicating an ‘in-person’ interaction while your teams operate remotely.
Getting everybody used to these forms of collaborative tools enables leaders to communicate and clearly define the existing organisational structure of the business. You can soon begin to establish whether there’s the capability, and the processes already in place, to meet your growth expectations.
It’s then vital to get a strategy and plan in place, that focuses on scaling the company, and – perhaps more importantly – building a great workplace in which your employees will feel motivated, happy and productive.
Setting a three to five-year vision – and communicating this clearly – can help staff to believe in the path you want the business to go in, and trust in how you can achieve goals collectively. However, you need to fully understand an organisation and its capabilities in order to deliver this successfully.
Delving deeper to understand every section of the business can help you to figure out where strengths lie and where they can be improved. Speaking to your teams regularly about how you can grow together can greatly impact the overall success of your organisation and empower a collaborative culture.
- Getting to grips with the existing company culture – and developing it further
Does your workforce have a well-established, supportive ethos in place, that’s built on valuing all staff across the organisation? If not, this is a huge priority to tackle in those first 90 days.
During economic flux it’s critical that teams stay focused and motivated, so continue investing in staff development. Providing further training and upskilling opportunities can develop their strengths, and yours, as a business leader.
Make it your mission to build on the existing culture and achieve things with your employees. Attitude is everything, especially when crisis hits, so it’s critical for senior managers to empower staff – and let them see how much of a difference their individual contribution can make.
During the first 90 days, as well as communicating your growth plans and vision, it’s also important – during any period of change – to ensure that employees feel supported and understand how they can impact company goals and objectives.
- Communicating with every single department – and colleague – effectively
This might sound like a huge task, but it really shouldn’t ever stop for a CEO. Keep talking with your teams and always recognise that clear dialogue plays a pivotal role in your success, during those first 90 days – and beyond.
Alongside ongoing calls with remote-based employees, roll out staff surveys to gather their thoughts and follow through with the actions that matter. And don’t forget to get involved in – and suggest – social events to maintain those ‘water cooler’ moments so you can continue to build rapport with colleagues and stay connected.
Modern-day CEOs should be adaptable and agile when met with change – and that’s never been more apparent than during the current climate. Several leaders will have had to recruit during the coronavirus crisis too, and therefore may never have even met their new additions face-to-face, so effective communication is key.
During lockdown, addressing – and in many cases pivoting – business propositions, focusing on company continuity and prioritising employee mental health and wellbeing have all been central to providing a successful and supportive workforce.
It’s vital to ensure workforces stay happy, motivated and collaborative. Each individual will be enduring a different experience during the global crisis, therefore, any savvy CEO must always remain people-focused – in other words, be ‘human’, authentic and a strong leader throughout.
Jon Pickering is CEO of Hampshire-based Tiger, a workplace data analytics software firm that collates trillions of pieces of data via unified communications and collaboration solutions to businesses in sectors including healthcare, public sector, insurance, manufacturing, aerospace and logistics.