Are you ready to pass the baton?
How much time have you spent recently preparing your organization for the future with a succession plan?
Too often I have spoken with owners of business who have given no thought to how their business continues past their time or even who should be in line for succeeding others in key positions.
There is a fine line between structuring an organization so strong back up is available for all key positions and being top heavy with management staff. While it is important to develop and maintain an organization chart that identifies potential replacements for key positions it is a plan that must be kept confidential among only a few very senior managers. Clearly if the succession plan was broadly know the group of subordinates would constantly be chafing at the bit to move up the ladder.
The succession plan should be updated regularly. Performance of employees change, new stars arise and training of key individuals to broaden their experience becomes important elements of the plan to maintain.
In small family organization succession plan may be even more important. The owner may have family members who he would wish to carry on the business but are they qualified? Are there competing siblings who vie for the role of president and how does the current owner resolve that issue?
A well-developed plan not only provides for a smooth transition when needed but also can be a critical tool in situations that result from an untimely injury, illness, or death of the owner. You do not want a vacuum created from the absence, for any length of time, of leadership in the business. A prolonged absence of an identified leader can destabilize the business and lead to losses and in extreme situation lead to the collapse of the business.
The owner or president of the business has the fiduciary responsibility to be proactive and protect the business and ensure survival is optimized. That means an active role in preparing for his/her exit and change in other key management positions.
You never know when there will be a need to pass the baton.