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Your Company should not Die with You

Will your business run smoothly after your leadership moves on, retires, or death? It’s a stark reality facing many business owners, large and small.

In 2006, I was running the administration of a small specialty construction firm my father had started. He died suddenly in October of that year. His role was to run and manage field operations. We had no one to fill that role. I ended up closing the company. 15 staff members lost their jobs in a matter of a week.

I closed my father’s company for several reasons. The matter of succession; or a replacement plan was one.

“Your company shouldn’t die with you.” This is what a friend and fellow business owner told me a few weeks ago. He’s right. Dying physically is something we all face (unfortunately). But departments, teams, and staff can figuratively “die” when key leadership leaves.

Succession planning isn’t just for someone’s unexpected passing. One large reason why employees leave an organization is for growth and professional development opportunities. Having the right personnel in the right roles will keep an organization from missing a beat in the event an employee leaves.

Do you have a strategy for developing and retaining your high performers?

Why succession plan?

You’re filling the gaps. Something my father or I didn’t think about as part of his company organizational plan. Some key areas we could have put our focus:

Identify organizational needs

What were our organizational needs going to be in terms of future growth and how we were going to hire new team members and develop others to move up within the organization. What will the future of the industry look like and what skills would the team need to meet future demands?

Identifying high performers

Identifying high performers that existed among our team members

Filling the gaps

Identifying where skill gaps existed within our current team.

Professional development

Working with the existing team on projects like stretch assignments or formal training to keep them engaged and challenged with their work.

The result?

The long-term benefits of planning for your organization’s future ensure that you don’t have a shortage in your team which could result in not meeting client demands, loss of morale and revenue. A succession plan for your organization creates a flow, ensuring you have a plan to keep the right people in the right roles. Employees know exactly what they have to do to advance within your organization This creates transparency and trust among your team, which makes for a high-performing and strong organizational culture.

Ultimately, when employees are engaged in their work, the result is better outcomes, better service for the client, and in turn higher profits.

Would things have been different if my father’s organization had some sort of succession or “replacement” plan in place? I don’t know. I can say the immediate outcome would have been less stressful for me and the staff at the time.

If you can believe this picture was 22 years ago. My high school graduation. I’ve graduated two other times since then. One of those he had to be there in spirt. I miss our Egg McMuffin mornings dad.

Here more of my thoughts on succession planning here:

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