Workforce.com says, “The only way to reduce the effect of lost leadership is through a strong succession planning program that identifies and fosters the next generation of leaders through mentoring, training and stretch assignments, so they are ready to take the helm when the time comes.”
Research proves that there are very few companies who have a written success plan. From a marketing perspective, the more your house is in order the more positive the change will be for your company. This is proving to be a critical issue for small businesses.
There are several steps that need to be followed from the inside out:
We might start In You. What are your plans as a business owner, for your future? What do you want to do with the business when it comes time for you to retire? Will you sell? Shut down? Or find someone to take over for you? What will happen when you want to retire?
1) Go Inside Your Head. The first step has to be inside of your own head to think about what you want in a successor. Decide which qualifications are important to you. Don’t get too caught up in who it “should” be. You have to consider if this person is really capable of doing the job. This is something you must work out for yourself. It is not a job that should be rushed.
2) Look Inside Your Company. Be wary of making a decision based on ego, rather than what’s best for the company. Should you choose someone who will continue running things as you have? Or would it better serve the company to have new blood, new ideas? To find out, confer with others within your company who will be impacted. Your staff or board needs to be part of the decision to make sure it is well-rounded. What are their thoughts on the person you’d like? Do they have additional requirements to add to the list? With this new information, you may need to go back to thinking about it, comparing notes before you come to a decision.
3) Put Training In Place. Though the person you decide on may have the qualities you need, there may be training and mentoring needed, too. The sooner you can get to this, the better for the company. It might be one thing to come up with a job description, but that may not cover all the things you tend to daily. To make the transition as smooth as possible, work with the person as long as you can. What will co-worker’s reactions be? Bringing the successor in as soon as possible could help unearth any problems while you’re still there to fix them.
4) Get Your House In Order. There might be many things you need to do before you leave. It may take time to figure out what changes must be made and then to implement the activities before the new person takes over. If your accounting practices are sloppy, they are likely to continue to be so. Your successor will have enough to contend with in starting the new job and finding their own stamp.
All of these steps take time. If you can give yourself years instead of months to prepare, you will have a much easier transition. And, of course there is planning for what you will do when you step down.
Stephen A. Miles at Forbes said, “Part of the succession-planning process must be to take advantage of the time between the announcement and the acceptance of the top job so that the leadership can address as many needs as possible. Crucial support must be provided–a good team, wise and accessible mentors, executive coaching and a feedback-rich environment–to create a setting in which the new CEO can be the most effective.”
So get started as soon as you can!