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A new chief executive’s program for the first 100 days

There is a bit of curiosity among staff and other stakeholders when a new chief executive officer (CEO) is hired to lead the organization because they are not so sure as to what the new CEO has under his or her sleeve. Some employees celebrate the departure of the former CEO while others are sad and more worried about their future.  

The new CEO has similar challenges in his or her mind. The new CEO does not know the extent of the challenges in the new organization and is not so sure of the support he or she will receive from management and employees.

What then is the agenda of the CEO in the first 100 days in light of the above? The first 100 days are critical as they may determine the success or failure of a CEO in the new organization. The approach is more of relationship building to get support from the key stakeholders and also for the CEO to ascertain the key issues facing the organization.

Ideas that are helpful to the new CEO

There are so many ideas that the new CEO should consider when developing the 100-day program and the following are the key ones among others;

Positive mindset

Certainly, the new CEO will face several challenges including resistance from some circles hence the need to have a positive mindset towards challenges.

It is a clear understanding of the challenges facing the organization that will help the CEO in developing effective solutions to address the challenges.

It is also important for the CEO to have the necessary experience and skills in handling challenges to move the organization to another higher level.

Learning and discovering

Since you are new to the organization you must be ready to listen to and learn from the existing employees to acquire knowledge about the organization.

You have to learn the organization’s beliefs, values, attitudes, and behavior of employees. You have to experience the culture of the new organization before you can contribute your value-adding ideas.  You have to connect with employees and other key stakeholders to learn from them.

You will discover a lot of information on your own through reading the available literature and also by implementing management by wandering around approach.

Ask and listen and take notes

In the initial interaction with the key stakeholders, you should ask questions, listen to the responses, and take notes. Avoid influencing their viewpoint as it may be too early to introduce your views and the direction you propose to take. You are still in a learning phase aimed at getting more knowledge about the organization.

Stakeholder engagement

You have to identify and engage the key stakeholders to determine their needs and points of view about the organization. This will go a long way in getting their support during the process of moving the organization to another level.

The typical key stakeholders will include the following among others;

Board members

Since the board members are responsible for the strategic direction and policy formulation function of the organization, it is important that you engage them on a one-to-one basis.

The members will give you a strategic view of the organization, its governance and priorities, major challenges, and their views on the way forward.

In addition, you will obtain an independent view of the strategic direction of the organization from the independent non-executive members.


Take some time to listen to the views of employees and ask them for further clarification where necessary. They are the most important asset of the organization as they are the ones who implement the policies of the board.

They are also responsible for an important role in attracting, serving, and retaining customers. Through the interaction, you should be able to establish their well-being and the challenges they face in the implementation of the strategy.


The customers are the reasons why the organization exists and it is important you confirm their level of satisfaction about services and the products they receive from the organization.

You may need a one-on-one meeting with the key customers to get a good picture of what they think of the brand represented by the products, services, and employees of the organization.


To offer quality service to customers an organization needs interrupted support from suppliers of quality goods and services. The idea is to establish the existence of any bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Level of Competition

You also need to establish how competitive the market is in terms of the number of players, the share of the market, the products and services being offered, and whether it is a buyers’ or sellers’ market.

Regulated market

There is a need to establish to what extent the organization and the sector are regulated.

You also need to establish how knowledgeable the regulator is on issues about the sector both on the local and global scene.

  • What are salient issues in the regulation?
  • What key issues that have not yet been closed with the regulator?

It is important to have a one-on-one meeting with the regulator to get their views on the organization in particular and the sector in general.

Professional bodies

It is also important to meet with key professional associations that may provide you with valuable sector insights, learning, and networking opportunities.

You need to engage them to discuss their contribution to solving the sector and the organization’s issues.

Strategy review

You need to read in detail and appreciate the strategy or plan of action designed by the organization to achieve its long-term goals.

It is also advisable for you to request senior management to make a special presentation of the strategy to you.

This will give you some idea about the level of management’s ownership, understanding, and implementation of the strategy.

First 100 days Action plan

From the above interactions, you are now in a position to prepare the action plan that will guide you during your first 100 days. The action plan should include key milestones to help you in continuous progress assessments.

It is also important you get the buy-in from directors, management, and the employees before you roll it out.

It is also advisable to divide the action plan into three phases namely the immediate phase (low-hanging fruits), the short-term phase, and the long-term phase, and also to specify resource requirements.

You should concentrate more on big issues to avoid overcrowding employees’ minds.

Things to avoid

  • Killing the team effort

Your job is to inspire employees to implement the strategy as approved by the board to achieve the goals of the organization.

Avoid saying or doing anything that will make employees switch off the support and commitment to strategy implementation.

In the same spirit, you should avoid criticizing the former CEO because by doing so you are also criticizing the management team that the former CEO left behind.

  • Making changes too quickly

Do not be too fast in making big changes. You have first to obtain both board and employee buy-in of any proposed big changes. Implementation of big changes also involves the implementation of a change management plan.


As a CEO you are responsible for the overall direction and leadership of the organization

This is achieved through creating a winning and inspired team that will successfully implement the strategy of the organization.

You also need support from all the key stakeholders.