Home News When a CEO With a Big Personality Steps Down, HR Can Prep the Successor

When a CEO With a Big Personality Steps Down, HR Can Prep the Successor

When a CEO With a Big Personality Steps Down, HR Can Prep the Successor

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos started the company in 1994 out of the garage in his Seattle area home. After almost 30 years at the helm, he’s stepping down as CEO and into the role of executive chair in Q3 of 2021. Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services, will become CEO.

Bezos, named by Forbes in 2018 as the most powerful CEO, and also currently the wealthiest person in the world, has become synonymous with the Amazon brand. However, rebranding for the new CEO shouldn’t be necessary, Jennifer Mackin, the CEO of consulting firm Oliver Group, Inc., and president and partner of Leadership Pipeline Institute the US told HR Dive.

When choosing a successor, there should be a lot of coaching in the background, Mackin said. Jassy is someone that Bezos has worked with a long time, and the fact that Bezos is staying “part of the organization in a big way” may alleviate the need for a rebranding, Mackin said. However, when there’s a CEO change, the messaging will change as a successor may bring “a very different personality to the table,” Mackin said.

As Jassy prepares to take the helm at Amazon, the company faces complaints of poor worker treatment, particularly worker safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against Amazon for “failing to maintain a safe work environment by reasonably protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19,” according to a Feb. 17 announcement.

“No matter who takes over [a company], they’ve got to show up strong,” Mackin said. “‘I’ve got this’ and I’ve got you’ in terms of employees,” she said. The new CEO has the ability to redefine the role to meet the future requirements for business growth and sustainability, Mackin said. It’s also important that the new CEO has an eye on the future — and that includes revisiting the company’s strategy, she added.

An HR leader’s role in CEO succession

The chief human resources officer role is increasingly shaping up as a model for future CEO candidates, according to Hanold Associates CEO Jason Hanold. And HR roles are becoming increasingly strategic.

“Ideally, the outgoing CEO [of a company] has a great relationship with the HR leader, and they can collectively decide who that person should be to succeed them,” Mackin said. “Hopefully, a year or more” before succession takes place, “you’re prepping the new CEO coming in,” Mackin said. “I think a company’s HR leader could be front and center in making that happen, or even being the coach, potentially”.

An HR leader can define what the succession means for the rest of the team because “often there’s a bit of change deeper into that team” when there’s a new CEO, Mackin said. For example, it would be thoughtful to consider developing and coaching those who are leaving certain positions in a staffing change, she said. “I think they need to be coached out as well as someone coached into any new role,” she added.

In addition, an HR leader could be that key person in getting resources to the right people once the new leadership team is in place, Mackin said. “A lot of team dynamics are going to shift and change, and they need to gel as a team again, right away,” she said. In the first few weeks of the transition, HR could bring in a facilitator to work on team dynamics, get them to know the new leader, talk about strategy and communication planning, and really be “the driver of all of that activity,” Mackin said.

A combination of transparency and the new CEO and leadership team equally communicating the “same amount of energy, passion, and enthusiasm for the future,” will rally a larger number of employees, Mackin said.

“Sometimes new CEOs feel like they have to put their mark on things really quickly,” she said. “I don’t think that’s important, as much as it is helping everyone to feel secure in the current state where they are today, and then figuring out what’s next”.

Eskalera, a Startup Led by Goldman Sachs’ Former HR Head Has Launched a Diversity and Inclusion Index

Eskalera, a technology startup led by Goldman Sachs former human resources head Dane Holmes, has launched an index to measure corporate diversity and inclusiveness,...

HSBC to Remove 35,000 Jobs Amidst Covid-19 Crises

HSBC Holdings Plc has restarted cutting as many as 35,000 jobs, three months after the coronavirus outbreak forced it to pause a long-awaited overhaul...

Genpact Offers Its Internal Skill Training Program Globally for Everyone

Genpact has announced Adapt and Rise, a role-based online learning platform that leverages Genpact's expertise honed from delivering real-world change for hundreds of clients....

San-Francisco Based Learning Platform Degreed Has Raised $32 Million in New Funding

The upskilling platform, Degreed, has announced $32 million in new funding in direct response to overwhelming demand for better skill insights, talent mobility, and...

Research Shows the Implications of Workplace Layouts on Employee Productivity and Overall Performance

As some workplaces prepare for the gradual return of employees and overhaul office layouts and seating plans, research has shown this could also have...

Employee Concierge ‘Back Technologies’ Integrates Automation Into Internal HR and Other Support Tasks

Companies are under increasing pressure to automate workflows and digitally service their employees, particularly in light of trends toward remote work. It takes an...

HR Strategies to Help Your Business Navigate the New ‘Normal’

No business is immune to the massive changes resulting from the health crisis. Organizations have proven themselves to be agile, and employees have demonstrated...

The Importance Of Diversity And Inclusion In HR, Hiring, Talent Management: Thoughts From A Top Expert

Michael C. Hyter is one of today’s best-known experts on inclusion and diversity and the author of The Power of Choice: Embracing Efficacy to Drive Your Career and The...

HR Expert Highlights Actionable Steps to ‘Make Real Change’ Against Racism in Your Workplace

Kyra Leigh Sutton, Ph.D., is a faculty member at the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations, where she teaches human resources courses...

Adidas Employees Want Company to Investigate HR Chief for Response to Racial Issues

A group of Adidas employees from around the globe is asking the company to investigate its chief human resources officer, as part of a...