Not Jon Snow as we all know. No, I'm not talking about the Seven Kingdoms, I'm talking about your business!
I know it's weird to think about not being in the thick of your business all day every day. But didn't you start your business so you could have more time with your family? More time with your friends? More time doing the things that make you happy?
Even if you have no plans to step away from your business altogether, I'm gonna take a wild guess and assume that you might want a holiday in the near future. When the future of your business and your employees' careers rests solely in your hands, you become the single point of failure.
That means, if you aren't there, things fall apart.
That is NOT a good situation for any business or department to be in.
So it's a good idea to start thinking about who will take the reins when you're not there, whether that's for a day, week, month or even a year! (did anyone else hear the Friends theme then?)
You have a method to how you do things in your business. So the first job in preparing for someone else to take over is to have Standard Operating Procedures written out and saved somewhere safe. This will enable anyone to come into your business and do things the way you like them done.
Identify your Successor
This isn't about employees proving their valour on the battlefield to you. This is about you identifying who has the right skills and aptitudes to be able to take over from you. Remember this person might not have all the right skills yet, so focus on whether they are the right person for the job. If you read my blog on Saturday you'll know that the Peter Principle is something we want to avoid! Remember that just because someone is good at their job, it doesn't mean they can handle pressure or difficult conversations.
Discuss the opportunity
This is a big one that many employers forget about. Before you start making big plans, you need to make sure your successor actually WANTS to take over! Not everyone is as ambitious as us entrepreneurs and we need to remember that some people are more than happy in their comfort zones. So have a 121 or an appraisal meeting and gauge how much development and progression your successor actually wants.
Make a plan
You know that taking on the role of being in charge of a business is hard and a rather steep learning curve. But now that you have learned from your mistakes and have lots of experience to share, your successor can bypass the steep learning curve and the mistakes. Sure, there will be some mistakes along the way, but they don't need to follow in your footsteps from the very beginning. Make a plan with your successor to help them learn what they will need to know. Maybe spend an hour a week teaching them a new process or something that you want to hand over to them at some point. Planned and structured training is the most efficient way to ensure that you have a second in command that can save the day if needed.
Succession planning, properly implemented can increase motivation, increase engagement, improve retention and even improve recruitment because:
People love to feel important
People love to feel part of something bigger
People love to feel influential
People love to learn
People love a clear progression path
And the best thing is you can apply it to any role in your business, not just to your role!
So, I'd love to know, what one thing are you going to do this week to start future proofing your business?