Succession Planning. It’s a little scary and it’s easy to put off until tomorrow. But tomorrow may be too late. Not that you will die tomorrow, but to properly plan for the health and succession of your business takes commitment to lead the process, time and a leader that will one day accept they need to let go.
Let’s start with defining Succession Planning. It is simply a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions. It is not limited to only the Owner or CEO but needs to integrate with potential team members to replace the replacement. This process is one of the core ways to build a high-performance team. It lets your aspiring leaders know what the future may hold and provides direction on what they need to do to earn the responsibility for leading in the future.
What it is not. It is not merely a name on a piece of paper, the next person on the organizational chart or your first born. It must be done with an objective view of what is best for the future of the business. If a myopic view is taken and a successor is chosen for the wrong reasons, not true performance and proven leadership, success will likely be less than stellar if not catastrophic.
As I have worked with other privately held businesses, I found many have no plan. One owner I met with, within 5 years of expected retirement, said they had never thought of it. Another struggles with making decisions and Succession Planning is still a foreign language. Another was angry and stuck in a paradigm that he can't get people to do their jobs. How could he possibly consider Succession Planning? He is in his seventies with no plan and no promising leader on his team.
When the time comes for the leader to pass the baton, they need to be ready. Preparation and planning are key. They should consider whether their company is positioned to prosper into the future. Their team is depending upon them to leave them in good hands. Make the decision to take action. Many find the process to be liberating.
It is never too soon to begin planning for Who is at the end of your rainbow.