Transition is never easy on a family business. Communication patterns get disrupted, reporting relationships shift, and the entire company struggles to find a new status quo.

Of all the people involved, no one struggles quite as much as the leader’s successor. Not only does this successor have to manage the explicit responsibilities of the job but a whole new pattern of implicit networks of relationships and communication as well.

All the while, the new successor is expected to maintain or produce solid results right away. After all, they’ve got to “prove themselves” to everyone in the organization.

Add to this the fact that most successors need serious training and development to grow into their new roles, it’s no wonder many of them struggle with imposter syndrome.

As specialists in family business succession, we see this kind of thing all the time. But what we’ve found is that outgoing owners have the unique ability to address it up front.

It all begins with communication and planning. As soon as a successor is identified, outgoing owners should hash out a plan to provide him or her with the following four things:

  • Access to the informal communication pipeline.
  • Legitimacy in the eyes of the organization.
  • Training in relevant knowledge and skills categories.
  • Support in terms of personal and professional approval.

Have you set your incoming successor up for his or her new position? By providing access, legitimacy, training, and support, outgoing owners can help successors get right to work without having to muddle through months of awkward transitioning.

 One more thing, if you’re struggling with talking through what comes next, this step by step conversation guide from a psychologist will help. Check it out.


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Succession Strength, Inc helps entrepreneurs and family business owners pass the business smoothly from owner to heir. Take the free survey today to assess your succession readiness.


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