Managing Company Transitions

One way you can use your board is to help you manage transitions. This could be transitions of individuals on the leadership team, transitions of the CEO out of the company, or transitions from being a private company to a public company. Using a certain board member’s expertise can be very valuable in these situations.

Transcript

One of the ways that you’ll find that you use your board is to help you manage transitions. And these transitions can cover a wide range of things. They can be transitions of individuals on the leadership team. It could include the transition of the CEO out of the company, and the replacement of that CEO with the new CEO. It could be transitions of the business from being a private company to a public company through the IPO process. There’s lots and lots of different things that you have to deal with, and oftentimes you can get individual board members who have very clear expertise to help.

Let’s take the example of selling the company. My guess is if you have a good board, you have at least one board member who’s extremely effective at negotiating transactions and really capable of understanding what’s fair and not fair in the context of the market. If this board member has done lots more transactions than you have as CEO, they would be a great person to have on your negotiating team, on the deal team.

When you’re involved with making changes to your leadership team or transitioning people out of the business, the board can be very helpful by not just creating context around it, but also helping you think about what an appropriate exit package would be, and help you with recruiting of new members to replace the person that’s leaving.

Boards often get very involved in a CEO search and a CEO replacement. If it’s inevitable that there’s going to be a CEO replacement, as CEO, one of the things that you can do is help the board find the best possible replacement for you, and do it in a way that puts the company on the best going-forward footing.

Suggested Readings

David Cohen. “Board Conflict Is Normal.” WSJ Accelerators. Blog column, April 4, 2014.

Feld, Brad and Mahendra Ramsinghani. 2013. Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Chapter 14 “CEO Transitions”.

Feld, Brad and Mahendra Ramsinghani. 2013. Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Chapter 16 “Selling a Company”.

Feld, Brad and Mahendra Ramsinghani. 2013. Startup Boards: Getting the Most Out of Your Board of Directors. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Chapter 17 “Going Public”.

Questions for You

Which of my board members specializes in negotiation? Selling a company? Leadership transitions?

What transitions, if any, do I see coming up? How can I prepare and manage them?

Tools and exercises

Make a list of the possible transitions your company could make. Then assign each of these transitions to a board member (or members) based on specialties. Make sure you know who could help you with what situation.

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