In last month’s article, we reviewed how to successfully integrate a successor into your organization. This month, we will discuss how to groom them into becoming the leader you and your firm need them to be.
At this juncture, you presumably have already identified, screened, and selected a successor candidate, and have made progress towards integrating them into the organization. Once they are fully integrated, the majority of your remaining time at the helm should be directed to grooming them into who you know they can become, and what the organization needs when you step aside.
Follow Simon Sinek’s advice and think in terms of “Why.” Why does your successor need to be good at these things, which will make the “What” and “How” much clearer which will assist in identifying any skill gaps that exist. You should be somewhat aware of these gaps already, due to the screening you performed prior to selecting. Realize everyone will have areas they need to improve upon before taking over the reins… because if they did not, they would not be called a successor candidate, but instead a competitor!
For a better chance of your successor succeeding in their new role (which allows you to extract as much value as possible from your life’s work!), follow these development tips:
- Hyper Mentoring – It is your job to ensure you have transferred all of your knowledge, skills, and abilities to your successor, so imagine a mentoring relationship on steroids! There should be lots of scheduled meetings, some formal and informal, to discuss anything and everything, as well as track progress on the successor’s absorption of your “data dump.”
Since you know by this point that your successor is bright, hardworking, capable, and sound technically, consider focusing your touches on the softer skills such empathy, awareness, anticipating what clients are thinking and will ask, the art of listening and sequencing of the questions you ask to the client to get them to discuss things they would prefer not to.
Even though they might have a different way of doing it, they must be able to influence clients into making the right decisions and team members to do what is in the firm’s best interests.
- Joint Decision Making – Develop guidelines on joint decision making metrics, and a reasonable timeline to implement it.
Much of this will depend on the terms of the financial arrangement, which is beyond the scope of this article. Nonetheless, the basic idea of splitting your timeline in half, where joint decisions are made for the first portion and then the decision making switches over completely to the new successor for the latter half, could be a good place to start. For example if you have a year to work with, develop your guidelines in each six month section.
Also, be sensitive to the potential awkwardness if you are required or request to stay around after you have handed over the keys. From the buyer’s perspective, this can be equated to purchasing a new home, moving in, and the original owner still occupying one of the bedrooms for a period of time even after they have received their proceeds. Not exactly desirable for the buyer.
- CEO Test Run - After working through some of the previous tips, put them out there on their own for a trial run, to see if they can fill your shoes and solidify whether they really want the gig. And again, as noted earlier, for the last six months you should act as if though you were already not there. Resist the urge to throw out a life line if you observe your successor struggling a bit, because now is the time for them to finish learning for themselves.
Staffing/HR issues seem to be prevalent in many small businesses, so empower them to resolve these situations, and others, on their own without any advice from you. The HR area is a great measure of patience, steadfastness, and resilience all qualities a CEO must possess. Furthermore the human capital portfolio is the firm’s largest asset and if it cannot be managed properly it could be a sign of things to come.
For a detailed examination of these items and much more check out David Grau’s Book: Succession Planning for Financial Advisors – Building an Enduring Business. http://bit.ly/GrauSuccessionPlanning
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