The role of the CEO is far from easy—but the principles are surprisingly simple. To be successful, CEOs need to focus on three things: get the strategy right, get the operations aligned with the strategy, and get the people in place that will execute on that strategy.
Getting the strategy right from the start and making sure that it can be adjusted in response to the inevitable industry shifts is more important than ever. But strategy is useless without the people in place who can make it happen. And key to that effort is building management teams that understand the big picture and understand how their teams need to work within the company and outside the company, with customers and partners, to deliver maximum value.
Here are three things CEOs should be doing to get the right people into the right place.
- Create the best onboarding experience you can. One of the big complaints people used to have when they joined Oracle was how difficult it was to onboard. Part of that is due to differing levels of skill within the ranks of managers, but we’ve also done a lot to improve our onboarding processes—things like offering consistent training across the organization and creating a single website where new hires could get the basics done, such as getting a PC, a badge, or a mobile phone. Several years ago, only 30% of employees ranked the onboarding experience as positive. Now we’re up to 80%.
- Focus on your first-line managers—make sure they understand your strategy and their role in implementing it. You have to train them on that, because they aren’t going to learn it through osmosis. Just as important is rewarding managers for developing and mentoring people who can perform many jobs across the entire company, not just the one job they’ve been hired to do. CEOs need managers who can develop employees and then share them across the business so that when new opportunities open up, the organization has a deep pool of talent to choose from.
- Make sure you’re listening to your employees. At Oracle, we’ve done monolithic surveys of all 140,000 employees that have taught us a lot. But we’re learning even more with a very nimble, quick system where we’re listening in at the work group level—maybe 20 or 30 employees. We can refine the target group, by talking to just R&D, for example; generate results much more quickly; and turn that data into actionable items. That’s critical—people won’t participate in surveys if they don’t think you’re really listening and changing.
Ultimately, the companies with the best talent are the ones that thrive. And getting and keeping that talent requires giving your people tremendous opportunity, and making sure that opportunity is better at your company than anywhere else.