Pride and heartfelt emotions are often factors when a business leader assesses his/her successor’s ability. Therefore, honest management feedback regarding a successor’s performance is a valuable piece of the succession planning puzzle. However, getting reliable feedback from management may be difficult unless the business culture supports open communication and an empowered management team. Ultimately, they are the ones who will be going to battle with the successor and their buy-in will be proportionate to their voice in the process. Management loyalty is not a company asset that gets re-titled to the successor!

Successor curriculum outlining experiential milestones, roles, responsibilities and performance expectations supports successor growth and builds respect amongst supporting management. We often recommend implementing an employment policy that clearly defines the roles and expectations of your successor that would include compensation and benefits. If you’re lucky, your successor has not arrived yet and the development of an employment policy specifically for your successor will preclude many disagreements. The inclusion of your senior management team in the development of the policy will also create buy-in that will likely result in the cooperation of key people as mentors.

Unless you are in the small percentile of second, third or fourth generation business owners, you understand what it means to put in sweat equity and earn your stripes. Your successor now has to pay their dues to earn a management position.

Whether you shuffle managers around to make room or create a position out of thin air, the message you send your business family will not be well received. Apply a family employment policy, engage your key managers, build your successor’s confidence through experience, and guide your successor to be a leader that the company needs and respects. When you proactively address successor entitlement, you increase the likelihood of Succession Success™.


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