When it comes to family business succession planning, one thing is certain: Most family business leaders don't do it, they don't do it well, or they wait to do it until it's too late. While the CEO longevity in non-family businesses is an average of six years, for family owned businesses CEOs tend to stay for 20-25 years.
Sure that long tenure contributes to leadership stability and consistency, but it can also fuel flat growth, narrow business focus, and decreasing leadership drive. Additionally, when the CEO and other top level executive family members do not step aside in a timely manner, it causes a high level of frustration in the next generation who is ready to charge forward and make their mark. Once it becomes clear that the children might reach their mid- to late-fifties before taking over, it becomes hard to hold on to the ambitious ones. That's why all family businesses need to have a solid succession plan in place--one that helps the senior generation leave with ease and welcomes the well-prepared next generation.
While succession planning can happen at any level within the organization, we commonly think about the top five to eight key positions for a written, structured succession plan. So as you plan your company's future leadership, keep these points in mind.
Doing this for each potential successor will help you see which ones are best positioned to move the company forward. Finding a successor with the right mix of skills, attitude, drive, character, and experience that matches your business will ensure the family company succeeds for the long term.
Thoughtful, ongoing planning for succession is a must for long-term business success and sustainability. Therefore, start now. Develop a clear plan about the succession of senior leader positions, including who will be next, when the transition will take place, and how that successor will be groomed to make the move smoother. The more planning you do now, the better the future will be--for you and your family business.
Lois Lang Psy.D. is a speaker and consultant with Evolve Partner Group, LLC where she helps organizations become high performance workplaces. Lang works with clients on management succession readiness, organizational/team strengthening, executive coaching, executive compensation design, wage studies and mediated conflict resolution. For more information visit www.evolvepartnergroup.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-952-1143.
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