Grooming the People You Want to Lead Your Business

grooming-people-to-run-businessSuccession planning is vital to the survival of a business. If you’re approaching retirement age or simply moving on elsewhere, grooming the next person you want to lead your company needs to be on your radar in order to help ensure you leave a positive and lasting legacy.

Additionally, organizations thrive on continuity. A drastic change in management and the principles and procedures therein can throw an entire business off course. Don’t let something like that derail everything you had previously worked for.

1. Start early.

As soon as you decide you will be moving on, start looking for recruits. Really, you can be looking for replacements even earlier when hiring people in general. The first main step is to create a job description — skills needed to succeed in the position, things you have learned throughout your tenure, etc. — and add to it as needed. The earlier this process is considered, the better.

2. Train gradually.

Once you find someone (or maybe even a few options) who you think would be a good fit, you can begin to train them in five incremental ways:

Demonstrate: Have them job shadow you so they gain a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a business leader.

Educate: Send them to workshops or seminars for further training.

Cross-train: Educate them on tangent job functions. It will raise awareness and respect, increase skills and help staffing in the future.

Mentor: A mutually beneficial relationship helps mentees learn best practices, expand their professional network and have a friend in the trenches, while the mentors will take an introspective look at their own processes, fine-tune their interpersonal skills and transfer knowledge.

Expose: Put them in your shoes by allowing them to be in charge for a certain amount of time; they will get a taste of a “day in the life” of a business leader.

Each step above builds on the last.

“If you give them incremental opportunities to lead while you serve as the safety net, their level of comfort will increase, along with their leadership capabilities, and when the time comes to retire, you can trust that the legacy you’re leaving will be carried out by someone just as capable as you,” explained Jana Madsen of Buildings magazine, which focuses on smart facility management.

3. Be diverse.

As Tim Clark, partner and senior analyst with The FactPoint Group, a market research and consulting firm, advised, “Don’t choose a clone of yourself. It may make you more comfortable, but will it help your organization achieve new heights? Organizations need different leadership styles at different times.”

grooming-people-to-run-business-3Conceivably finding someone to run your business that has a varying worldview from yours, or a different background, will help your company. It will bring a breath of fresh air to your business that will make your staff perk up and become more efficient. Furthermore, remember to consider your company’s future needs when planning your succession. Your business will not be the same tomorrow as it is today.

4. Communicate with your team.

Don’t let the transition shock your employees — that is counterintuitive. Let them know your plans so they can prepare their expectations and you can build the credibility of your successor. Anything to help maintain continuity.

5. Have a back-up plan.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to admit you were mistaken. If it seems you have put your faith in a person who might not work out the best for your company, start from the beginning. This is why beginning the grooming process with more than one individual is a really good idea. The beginning isn’t as huge a step backward as what it would be without a back-up plan in mind.

With the right preparation, grooming the people you want to lead your business is quite simple. It will seem relatively effortless for you, and in doing so, it will be seamless and successful for everyone else involved.

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