Onboarding Your New Healthcare CEO: Day Two and Beyond
Day One is done. Now What?
Day One went off without a hitch. Employees were engaged, the new CEO was relaxed, credible and charming, and you landed the initial media attention you needed. Now the real works begins.
The next 60 days will determine whether your new CEO successfully grafts onto the organization and helps propel it forward, or becomes an awkward and disembodied appendage that only acts as an anchor as the company pulls and tugs forward. Remember, the way things start is the way things go. And it starts today.
The next 30 days are primarily an inside job, followed by another 30 days that will turn your focus almost exclusively outside the organization. Think of yourself, and your marketing communications department, as the conductor of a 30-day symphony – developing presentations, working with the CEO’s staff to plan, schedule, and coordinate key customer conversations, etc. The next 30 days is not the time to conduct media relations (the new CEO lacks the credibility and deep knowledge needed to go toe-to-toe with a reporter), rather this is a time for intense education – not just about the company – but also about the competitive, confusing, and evolving healthcare environment. Only 1/3 of new healthcare CEOs today have a healthcare background; chances are very good your new CEO does not either.
Days 2 – 30 Focus
- Communication Vehicles
- Organizational Priorities
Only after you’re comfortable that the CEO is familiar with and adept at understanding and speaking to the above does it become OK to peek your head up and look outside the organization. The next 30 days (days 31– 60) are when a dedicated external communications plan goes into effect. Now it’s time to go public with the observations of the past few weeks, and the executive’s thoughts about future plans and direction. This is the time the CEO provides “backgrounders” to the media, has small, 1:1 conversations with external constituents such as investors and analysts, and begins to mold their thought leadership platforms.
Honeymoon periods for new CEOs have become increasingly short, sometimes lasting no longer than the first quarterly earnings report, interview, or backgrounder. There’s no room for mistakes or procrastination. On the job learning is expected and the days of new CEOs going into hibernation for six months prior to speaking publicly are over.
The odds are good you’ll be responsible for onboarding a new CEO in the next couple of years … or months given the pace of change in healthcare today. The odds are equally as strong that the new CEO will be gone in 3.6 years or less. Stacking the odds in your favor for a successful onboarding can best be done by planning well in advance.
In healthcare, change is guaranteed. Failure is optional. So bet on yourself to win.