Succession Planning – Part 1
Creating a robust leadership team
Every business owner has to face preparing for their exit at some point, and there are many ‘baby boomers’ who are in that situation right now. The first step towards preparing for your exit is succession planning. Read about my approach leading up to the sale to employees in March 2019.
If every decision relies solely on, or mainly on the Managing Director, the business is unacceptably vulnerable and the Directors or senior managers are simply not working to the best of their abilities. I came back into the Rooflight Company as Managing Director in 2014 and observed a senior team that was fragmented and not used to taking decisions collaboratively. I renamed the senior team the Leadership Team – leading the business is what they’re paid to do after all – and got to work on a plan to become an effective, high-performing team.
Who’s accountable for what?
The norm in most companies is to have job descriptions which are only read when someone starts their job, and at annual appraisals. Clearly defined roles with a set of accountabilities tied to success measures is a more useful tool, which enabled me to recognise people’s achievements, to hold them accountable to what the business needs and to tackle underperformance. Having worked in the corporate world, I was accustomed to bringing in consultants, or as I call them Trusted Advisors. Kate Mercer provided the accountability framework and supported its integration into business as usual. It’s important to think about the role that the business requires rather than what the individual has been doing in the past. The accountabilities were considered as outputs, not tasks, and at monthly one-to-ones, I discussed the most relevant ones at that moment in time, both to recognise the individual’s achievements and tackle areas which were not on target.
Options for selling the business
The Team is greater than the sum of its parts.
Models such as Myers Briggs and Belbin enable a deeper understanding of key drivers, motivators and personality types in the team, and act as an effective identifier of gaps. I consider the team as individuals whose joint talents and skills are greater than the sum of its parts. All five of us in the Leadership Team had Insight profiles carried out (a model based on Jungian psychology,) which provided clarity on aspects of our personality types such as strengths and weaknesses, effective communication, blind spots, and opposite types. In team meetings, we openly discussed our differences and worked together on how we could contribute more effectively as a team. The result was a team that respected and trusted each other. I also used these profiles as a development tool in monthly one-to-ones to help me understand their individual point of view and to tackle under-performance and to challenge behaviour that was not in tune with our values.