To founders, a business is more than a capitalist endeavor. It’s more than brick and
mortar, website and inventory. It’s a piece of them that’s been put into the world to
change an industry. Too often, succession planning focuses on teaching founders
how to leave their companies, but not how to strengthen their companies so they
can thrive even after the founder leaves. We believe that it benefits a founder—and
the business—to focus on developing an effective transition within the underlying
company, and we’ve got three tips that can help you do that.
1. Let your team know what’s coming. While it’s important to choose and train a
successor CEO, it’s quite possibly even more important to prepare and train the
team that will be there to support the new person in charge. It also helps them feel
like a part of the transition—like its success is partially due to them.
2. Be open about shifts in culture and objectives. A new CEO will bring new
perspective to the table. They may use their talents and experience to shift the
company in a new direction, toward new opportunities that might not have been a
priority for the founder. Keeping the staff informed of these shifts helps ensure that
they remain committed to the overall focus of the company and to its success. This
can take time since many of them will be tied to the founder’s original vision, but the
founder being supportive of these changes will help.
3. Find acceptable, limited ways to maintain a role in the company. Many founders
don’t want to leave their companies entirely, but it can be confusing to employees,
partners and board members if you have one foot in and one foot out. Clearly define
your ongoing role with the company and any limitations so that
everyone—including you—has a good idea of the boundaries.
Don’t think of your succession plan as a way of saying goodbye to your company;
think of it as the one way to help guarantee the future success of the organization