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ATTENTION CHRO’s: Five Recommendations to Manage an Unexpected CEO Departure

Source | Linkedin | Susan Hunsberger | Chief Human Resources Officer | Private Equity | Coaching | Exec. Compensation

A 2018 Spencer Stuart CEO Turnover Study of S&P 500 companies reported that 22% of those exits were unexpected and triggered by activist investors, poor financial performance, or misconduct.

While boards spend a great deal of time on succession planning, if a CEO transition occurs earlier than expected, internal successors may not be ready to step into the top job. Boards must name an interim leader and launch an expedited external search.

You can help the Board in five ways:


How the news of a CEO departure is communicated to the top team will influence the reaction of other employees in the company. A virtual town hall meeting allows the Board Chair to introduce the interim leader, explain the change, and outline next steps. It also allows executives to ask questions about future plans. Armed with that information, they are better equipped to answer questions from employees and ensure that the organization focuses on work that matters: adding value for customers.

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