Private company succession planningIt is a fact that while most companies recognize the importance of succession planning, they often don’t take the time to formulate one. One of the chief reasons is that many companies and their CEO’s don’t know where to begin or how to get the process started. However, it’s simpler than you may expect.

I remember as a young staff accountant, our managing partner used to tell me, “You should always be working yourself out of a job”. At the time, I didn’t think there was a lot of job security in that kind of approach, but over time I came to realize that the advice made a lot of sense. For a young staff accountant, working yourself out of a job meant that you needed to prepare someone to take your place so you could advance or be promoted to the next level. Though the CEO of a private company has already attained the highest level in the organization, this concept still applies. In fact, is critical to the continued success of the organization.

“Working  yourself out of a job” means that you must find candidates capable of doing your job. For the CEO, this involves investing time with candidates to train, teach, evaluate, advise, and otherwise grow their skill sets. To achieve this, you may need to include the candidates in key meetings and decision-making processes so they get a sense of how you operate and think as a CEO, as well as get a feel for the pulse of the business and its major issues and opportunities.

Typically, you’ll need to get the candidate involved in areas outside his or her current skill sets in order to get exposure to other areas of the company. For example, if your candidate is a CFO, make sure he or she is included in the weekly sales and marketing meetings. Asking the candidate’s opinion on certain issues or listening to his or her views can be an opportunity to evaluate the candidate’s thought process as well as provide coaching opportunities where appropriate.

Succession planning can be—and should be—a very well thought out and detailed process of identifying, training, and evaluating potential succession candidates. If you’re having trouble getting started, begin by thinking about what you should do to work yourself out of your job so the business can succeed without you.

Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.

Has your company begun the succession planning process? Share in the comments.

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