Matter & Substance
  November 14, 2016

How mentoring can improve your succession plan

Many business owners launch their enterprises with a business plan - the written document that outlines key strategic objectives and practical means of accomplishing them. Likewise, many of these business owners apply the same methodology to the succession plan, creating a written document outlining how the company's ownership will transition.

Often, however, these two documents never cross paths, much less join toward a common goal. If this is the case with your business, and you've already identified your likely successor, mentoring can make your succession plan better by uniting it with your business plan.

At Mowery & Schoenfeld, we have had a successful mentoring and career development strategy for many years. This has enabled us to develop the leadership team necessary to carry us forward.

Establish trust

One of the principles of mentoring is establishing a relationship based on mutual respect and trust. So, as your company evolves, you'll need to ensure your successor is learning the skills and gaining the knowledge that will help him keep your business competitive and, ideally, take it to the next levels of success.

Let's say, for example, that your company has always just sold widgets and is now expanding to help clients service the widgets. You'll need to make both strategic and operational changes so that your successor and staff can handle a diversified business that's both product and service based. Under a mentoring relationship, you can disclose these plans to your successor in a confidential setting and start laying the groundwork with him to move the business in a new direction.

Meet regularly

Another principle of mentoring is making a definite commitment of time and face-to-face contact, meaning it's necessary to meet with your successor often. The first days of running a company are particularly stressful, but coaching during the period leading up to the transition can help successors manage the pressures.

During this time, you can also provide a secure environment for your successor to apply these new abilities and assume more of your responsibilities. To maximize your mentoring efforts, have your successor meet monthly with key personnel to discuss current matters, growth and operations strategies, you and your competitors' products and services, and industry trends. It is crucial to meet regularly to have a successful mentoring relationship. A consistent message and frequent interaction are necessary to make it work.

Create an effective plan

These are but two of many principles of mentoring. If you need help maximizing the effectiveness of your succession plan, partner with us and we'll share with you what's worked for us and other clients.