By Lisë Stewart
Succession planning means planning for the long-term success of a business. It should be a process that engenders a strong and viable company, empowers and educates the next generation to take over, or prepares the business for sale to a qualified buyer.
Focus on the things that will build an organization that is well prepared to weather the upheavals of transition, whatever form that transition takes. Here are six key steps to prepare for long-term success:
- Cast your mind to the future. What is the potential of the business in 5 to 10 years, particularly if you can remove key barriers? Use this as a starting point for visioning, and involve your family or key leaders in the discussion.
- Develop the picture. Call it your strategic plan, your business plan, or your future plan—whatever it takes—but create a simple plan to move your company in that future direction. Share it with others on your team and in your family.
- Once you have a good idea of where you want the company to be and the steps you’ll need to take to get there, identify the skills and talent you’ll need on your team to achieve your goals.
- Recognize that your kin may or may not have the skills or talent that you need. Take a look at the requirements and ask, “Can these things be taught or are they simply inherent to a person’s personality?” Consider the behaviors you would need to see in others to give you the confidence to pass on more responsibilities.
- Develop a simple plan to strengthen your company’s leadership skills. Identify people, other than yourself, who may need coaching, training, or mentoring to be the leaders of the future. As part of this process, determine the role that you, as the owner, leader, or founder, are willing or able to play in providing coaching or mentoring.
- Finally, consider your own shifting role. To build long-term success, others will need to carry the baton. This is often a very hard shift for a leader. Think about whether you would like to gradually or swiftly pass on your responsibilities to others. Work with your team to identify specific tasks and key decisions that you will no longer undertake yourself. And, most importantly, remember the adage: “Don’t buy a dog and do the barking yourself.” Once you have said you are easing out or taking on fewer tasks, stick to your promise. Nothing is more demotivating than to be micromanaged or never given the opportunity to get out from under the shadow of a star.
A well-planned transition includes many steps, all of which should focus on creating a strong and sustainable company—a true legacy. So, don’t be lured into the trap of trying to ‘do’ succession. it is the outcome of a vitally important process.