Successor Development: You’ve Selected Your Successor, Now What?
Now that you have successfully selected your successor, what do you do? If you’re developing a family member successor, the most important thing is to have them go work somewhere else before entering the family business. Learning how to be an employee in a place where your last name means nothing is very valuable.
Once they enter the family business, they need to know their expectations in terms of behavior and attitude. Many next generation kids in family businesses have no idea that they are entering life in a fishbowl and are shocked when they figure this out. They assume that everyone will give them the benefit of the doubt. This is simply not true. Every thing a family member does in a family business is magnified and your kids need to be aware of and prepared for this.
I was recently talking with a 27-year-old potential family successor who was frustrated in his current role in the business and felt that no one really cared about him, so he decided to take a two-hour lunch break and see if anyone noticed. He really believed that no one noticed. I assured him that not only was this noticed by all the employees, but was also notated and will more than likely be held against him for way longer than it should be. It’s simply the nature of family member employees in a family business.
Regardless of whether you’re developing a family or non-family successor, we have found that it is not only vitally important, but also necessary that expectations be clearly defined. Conflict arises when expectations are not matched up and someone’s expectations are deemed to be unreasonable. These expectations need to be ironed out so that everyone knows the rules of engagement on how decisions are made, how conflict is handled, what roles everyone is playing, etc.
As I stated in my first post of this series, Successor Development – There Has to Be One Available!, getting a successor ready provides legitimate and viable options for succession when the time comes. When you have a successor fully prepared the business can continue uninterrupted when the unexpected or expected transition happens. This inherently builds sustainable value in the business.
NextGen leaders can feel like they are stuck between and rock and a hard spot. Working to fulfill expectations of leadership as well as making their mark on the organization to earn respect. Click the following links for more drill-down resources on Successor Preparation.