Transferring leadership to the next generation in a family business is never easy. Even when the decision has been made and a successor is finally chosen, a significant challenge remains: how do inform your employees about the role your successor will fill in the company?
How you communicate your decision will set the stage for your transition and could make all the difference between failure and success. That’s why, in our experience, we’ve found these to be some of the most critical conversations owners can have during succession.
These conversations can encompass a number of different scenarios:
- Your successor may share a similar skill set as you and employees will need to know whether to follow your example or his.
- Your successor may come from another area of expertise, and you could expect some level of resistance to her leadership.
- A key employee or two may feel as though they were the better choice, and your challenge will be to keep resentment from infecting the company.
These are just a few of the possible scenarios owners and successors face. No matter what the circumstances, we always encourage each side to work diligently to nurture relationships and craft a positive story around the succession decision.
As with every other point in the succession process, healthy communication is vital. In order to prepare successors to lead and employees to follow, you have to be willing to wade into the complexities of each relationship and fight to make sure you’re heard.
Do that, and you’ll be well on your way to executing a successful transition.
By the way, check out this book if you’re curious about the critical conversations in a succession.