Succession planning involves handing over power, position, control, and leadership. It can feel like a big loss. That’s the problem. Very few people embrace loss. This is a major reason people struggle with succession planning. Read on for a quick take on four strategies to leave well, or download the full Journal of Financial Planning article.
4 Strategies to Leave Well
Create a Compelling Future Vision
First, flip the definition of succession planning. Instead of thinking of succession as giving up a role, re-define it as the opportunity for an even better role. Then, take time to imagine a new expression of yourself. At the same time, imagine dumping the unpleasant tasks of your current role. Embrace the opportunity to envision an ideal use of your talents, and a future of fulfilling engagement.
Expect a Succession 360 Review
After your succession, people will have an opinion of your conduct, and they will talk about it. Anticipate a candid 360 assessment of your performance. Most of us have witnessed significant mistakes during important transitions, succession or otherwise. It’s often cringeworthy. Yes! That’s the point. Recalling troubled transitions, and imagining future feedback is highly clarifying. It’ll help set parameters for your transition behavior.
Focus on Substance over Style
Succession planning is like the sale of a beloved home. You hope to find a buyer who will carefully tend your property. Unlike a home sale, the succession transition can be painfully protracted. It’s more like inviting the buyers to move-in and remodel, while you’re still living there. It’s easy to notice style differences, and get cranky about any remodeling.
Instead, identify and agree on important principles that will remain constant, early in the process. Ideally, the list of essentials isn’t “everything”. Rather, a shared agreement on a short list of fundamentals. Focusing on these shared principles strengthens mutual confidence, and will make it easier to avoid unnecessary arguments over style.
Be Transparent & Specific
It can be hard to predict exactly how and when you want to leave. This can lead to vague assurances. Without specific commitments, such promises may become ever moving targets of good intentions.
In general, people hate unpredictability and inconsistency. A buyer may be willing to be flexible, if they’re fully prepared. If not, chronic indecision may become intolerable for the buyer. A failed succession plan is a painful loss of time, energy, and resources for all involved.
Psychologists have studied the keys to successful transitions. The research found that every, I mean every, successful person sought outside help. They viewed asking for help as a smart strategy, not a weakness. Then were proactive in obtaining support to achieve their goals.
In addition, they were intently focused on driving toward a future vision. This gave them the energy to leave the past behind, and forge ahead with vigor. Good practices to emulate for a satisfying and successful succession.
Reach out to talk about your transition goals.