It's the beginning of another year, and many of us are looking forward. But many small-business owners aren't looking far enough forward-they don't want to deal with the day when someone else will take over their companies.
An important part of long-term success is developing your top talent so they can eventually replace you and other key players. Succession planning doesn't have to be painful. After all, your organization is evolving, and you don't want all the great progress you've made to be undermined due to an unplanned departure.
Along with Tim Kuppler, founder of consultancy The Culture Advantageand author of the ebook Building a Performance Culture, I offer this basic blueprint for succession planning that can be implemented by organizations of any size.
Track Potential Successors
Identify potential leaders on your team by reviewing 360-degree survey feedback, performance reviews and personality and strengths assessments. Ensure that your selections reflect your organization's ideal culture and that they will keep things moving in the right direction. Keep tabs on where potential successors are headed by noting key development actions, resources and timeframes. Organize everything with a grid that makes it easy to compare one candidate to another.
Leverage Your Team
Gather your current leaders together to provide input on the most critical competencies, skills and attributes of successors. Set aside time for meetings where succession planning is the only focus. Devise a rating scale so potential candidates and supporting documentation can be reviewed objectively. Note that open discussion may bring out political sensitivities, especially if family members are involved.
Great leaders are created, not born. Make sure potential successors, especially those who are new supervisors, have access to general management training so they "get it right the first time." Mentoring programs are also beneficial for providing extra coaching to accelerate learning. Give employees options for potential mentors instead of making assignments where fit or trust issues could exist. Make sure mentorship is a two-way street. Your current leaders can learn a lot from the questions and approaches raised by potential successors.