In the fourth quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, Russell Welsh from Polsinelli and Gayle Packer from Terracon dove into succession planning, and leading through transition within a company. As Mr. Welsh retires as Chair of the AM 100 law firm and Ms. Packer steps into the role of CEO, they provided key insights on managing clients, employees, and the organization with a smooth transition process.
- “Make a commitment to be in their space, in their offices.”
Gayle said she realized early on that most employees were not too concerned with who the CEO of their company was. They were much more concerned with their direct supervisors, and any initiatives that would affect their day-to-day ability to effectively complete their jobs. To make herself accessible, she began traveling to all the local offices, spending time where the employees were doing their daily work.
- “Work to retain the talent that didn’t get the job.”
Russell said that one thing they did before they even began extensive interviews was ensure they could retain the candidates that were passed up for the opportunity. While they may have decided on someone else, the other candidates were invaluable to the firm and needed to know they were crucial components for Polsinelli’s continued success. Russell stressed the importance of making sure this was an intentional process.
- “Find the dysfunction that suits you best and run with it!”
Every team and every leader has their own dysfunction. Gayle’s advice was to accept this fact, find which dysfunction is best for your organization, and embrace it. She encouraged people entering new roles to avoid trying to mimic everything their predecessor might have done; they are going to do some things differently, and while this may be uncomfortable at first, will be better in the long run.
- “Bypass your ego – change is not an attack on you or what you’ve done.”
Many times during transition, the retiring or exiting leader can begin to feel like new initiatives or changes within the organization due to new leadership is a personal attack. Russell said the best advice he could give to those who were leaving an organization is to let go of their ego and recognize change is necessary, rather than seeing it as a personal affront to their legacy.
To register for the next two CBIZ Executive Advantage Series events, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for more information.