You think you have made all the right moves to ensure the firm is in good hands when you leave or retire. You have a candidate lined up to move into place and your customers and suppliers know what is happening. Sounds good but what now?
The tough part…Transitioning the top role in a smooth and thoughtful way is a key step often missed!
So where do you start? How about a short self-evaluation?
Are you truly ready to leave your role? Many senior leaders who have been in the role for some time cannot separate themselves from the firm easily, resulting in potential conflict with the new candidate or the firm’s different stakeholders. A structured transition plan with coaching resources to help ease your way out is a big step forward. Next item to consider is do you have an established timeline? Working yourself out of a role in a deliberate and orderly fashion is very hard for some to consider but that is exactly what has to happen. I could write a book about owners, general managers and senior executives who said they were ready to leave, prepare their replacements and staff only to return to the organization regularly to check on “how the new guy is doing”. In most cases the transition plan if any did not assess the old leader’s needs and generally turned out badly for all parties. Customers and staff are at particular at risk when this happens as they are often left confused, presenting a big risk to the future of the company.
So the advice goes like this at a minimum:
- Evaluate your own needs to transition properly early on
- Establish a detailed timeline/transition plan and communicate it to stakeholders.
- Take full responsibility for the initial success of the new leader just as you would have for any new project you managed
- Finally, celebrate success when you hand off your responsibilities in a responsible and supportive way. Not all transitions are managed well, so be the exception!