We are told that no one is indispensable or irreplaceable, but some people are much harder to replace than others. For key roles in any organisation, it is vital to have a succession plan. Sometimes such a plan is required by investors or lenders, but for all companies, having more junior staff with the ability and ambition to grow, allows us to plan for the future and support them through their development. When we at Avonglen recruit for our business or our clients we look for people with the potential to grow within the organisation to become the leaders of the future.
There are two particular situations in which succession planning can be prone to problems. In family run businesses, succession is often generational and when the time comes to pass the reigns over to the younger generation this can be a difficult transition. Sometimes the next generation do not have the business acumen of their parents or grandparents, nor the skills or experience to take on a specialist role, particularly when they are under pressure from their forebears to do so. It takes great personal insight and courage to say that the role is not for them, although it may be the right decision for the company. On the other hand, we often see the younger generation blossom in their new role and take the business from strength to strength – the archetypal “chip off the old block” with a modern twist.
The other situation is when a team of entrepreneurs establish a business together, perhaps having been colleagues in another business, and are often of a similar age. This means that they are likely to want to exit the business together and enjoy their retirement. Unless a sale is planned, the transition can be dangerous for the business as it will lose its leaders and its history very quickly. To protect the business from this situation the leaders, need to plan for their exit 5 to 10 years ahead ensuring that they recruit with the succession plan in mind and prepare those individuals to take over the business for the next generation.