Customers, hiring, culture and town halls should be top of mind for CEOs

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Hiring is one area a CEO can interject himself or herself into. (Image: Chris Ryan)

The life of a CEO can often have him or her meeting with the facilities team first thing in the morning and then heading through a day of nonstop sessions with everyone from human resources to IT.

And while all are important, there may be some areas that deserve some extra attention. Think customers and hiring, for instance, along with culture and town halls. These areas meld well with the general day-to-day responsibilities that CEOs handle.

Finding, hiring and retaining talent are key CEO responsibilities, said Kirk Krappe, CEO of Apttus.

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“I work with my team to nurture untapped potential,” Krappe said. “Luckily, Apttus is at a great stage of our development so we’re attractive. But we’re an at-scale company and we’re going to need to fill new positions with rock-star employees in the next 6 to 12 months. We’re preparing for that now.”

Being in front of customers is also key, Krappe said. “I will always be someone who sits down with or picks up to the phone to listen to our customers because they determine our success; customers will tell you exactly what you need.”

Maintaining your company culture is also critical. “Currently, we do a one-week new hire training, where … I spend hours talking about the company, our vision, how we started, where we’re going. Everyone’s invited to my house for dinner.”

CEOs need to be at company town halls, said Matt Moynahan, CEO of Forcepoint.

“I have found that it’s important for me and other CEOs to attend internal town hall meetings and listen to our people so we can shape what our company culture should be,” Moynahan said. “We need to play the role of listeners and company leaders. We can’t do that unless we attend our own company town halls and sit side by side with the people who work for the company every day.”

CEOs need to be at the hiring table because hiring the right talent is challenging, Moynahan said. “Being on the hiring line and influencing who we hire by policy is a top priority for me.”

Lewis Richards, a researcher at Leading Edge Forum, feels CEOs need to ‘“augment people.’ Right now there is an arms race to hire top talent. However, more can be done to augment the skills of the people the organization already has.”

CEOs also “need to create a culture of experimentation,” Richards said. “Provide employees with the resources and room to have a sense of the world so that they can help drive solutions and innovation in the organization. Create a culture that focuses on making the employees better.”

Jesse Singh, CEO of The AZEK Company, says to seek out your customers. “What are they saying about you and how do they really feel,” Singh said. “Too many times, leaders get feedback from their organizations rather than staying connected and getting a direct and candid view from customers. There are always things that need improvement, and hearing it directly from customers can give leaders more power to implement changes.”

CEOs should also stay ahead of the game by working on next year’s plan. “Organizations naturally focus on meeting the current year’s plan,” Singh said. “The role of a leader is to make sure that the organization is planning for every year.”