“If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one.” John Galsworthy wrote that many years ago, in his “Swan Song.” I think it’s especially true for you if you own or manage a business. If you do not plan for the future of your business, it will not have one. You must plan for the time when you will no longer be there, either through extended vacation, retirement, illness or death.
I have found from experience that as business owners start thinking about retirement one their most important objectives is leaving a positive legacy of themselves in the eyes of their employees, peers and community. Proactive succession planning provides significant value to all stakeholders of the organization including leaving a lasting legacy for the leader.
Right now, there are several issues that point to a succession dilemma:
• Recent college grads have had trouble finding jobs and are not getting the experience needed to be ready for succession.
• Baby boomers are delaying retirement. According to T. Rowe Price, the oldest boomers will have to delay retirement by nine years because of market losses.
• Talent management and organizational development efforts have taken a hit due to budget cuts.
• Current business owners have been focused on battling through the economic downturn with less time to spend on team development.
• There will be a higher demand for future leaders as the baby boomers continue, although slowed by the economy, to make the largest transfer of assets ever seen before.
Now is the time to take action. Define the type of person you want and what traits are required to lead your company. Consider benchmarking the job, which details the skills, education and experience of an optimum performer in the position.
Once you benchmark the position, evaluate your current team members against the benchmark through a gap analysis to determine if your future successor is already on board. If so, work with him/her to develop a personal development plan to eventually assume the leadership position.
If the successor does not exist, look for new talent with the succession plan in mind. Again, create a development plan for the new hire.
Succession planning is made more difficult by the fact that is it difficult to talk about with anyone within your organization. Find wise counsel who can help you think it through. Do not make the journey on your own.
Do your loved ones and employees a favor by putting a succession plan in place now to secure long-term financial prosperity. Do yourself a favor by putting a succession plan in place to cement your legacy. Remember, Those Who Plan – PROFIT!
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