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Preparing For the Future: Why You Need a Succession Plan

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Business Advice

As a business owner, it’s hard to imagine your company surviving without you there taking care of the ‘nuts and bolts.’

After all, your business is something you have likely started from the ground up and no one else could possibly understand the blood, sweat and tears that went into bringing it to life, let alone, what the company’s earnings were ten years ago. No, that kind of information and industry knowledge is something only the business owner truly knows.

For your own sanity and the long-term health of your company, however, you need to implement a proper succession plan to ensure your business is properly equipped to handle the effects of change. Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere, anytime soon and you’re not planning on immediately changing the leadership roles within your company, a well-established succession plan is a fundamental tool that will help you stay afloat when times get tough. And let’s face it, change is inevitable. You and your team need to be able to adjust accordingly.

A succession plan is often described in limited terms. As the dictionary notes, it’s “a process to identify and develop the individuals within your company who have the potential, skill set and talent to fill key and/or critical organizational positions within a company.” Sounds good, but a real succession plan is much more than that – it’s a plan for the future. Alas, we can’t determine the future – the problems and issues we may encounter, who will leave the company, who will join – but we can sufficiently and adequately plan for the changes that may lie ahead by devising a proper succession plan. With such a plan in place, your company will have the necessary systems and tools in place to survive whatever changes or challenges may come its way.

So without further ado, here are the top 5 reasons why you need a succession plan:   

  1. First and foremost, it helps eliminate the stress of impending change: with a plan in place that dictates how things are organized and managed within your company, what roles need to be filled and the responsibilities that are required for each position, who reports to who, the everyday logistics, etc., you have a solid foundation for your company to fall back on when change is on the horizon. And, with an established set of guidelines to fall back on, much of the stress associated with the idea of ‘change’ will diminish. If you are in the process of implementing a new leader, having a logical plan in place for your new leader to comfortably and appropriately follow will have him/her understanding every aspect of the company. It will also ensure that your new leader has earned his/her position in the high ranks, therefore helping to alleviate the stress of impending change for both you and your employee.  
  2. It will help your company stay afloat if disaster happens: Systems, protocols and standards put specific regulations in place that act as a buffer when the road gets rocky (as it most certainly will if your company encounters any sort of catastrophe). Thus, having a succession plan in place will enable you and your employees to weather the storm and get back on track.   
  3. It will help your business TODAY: succession plans are not just for changes in leadership roles tomorrow – they are also used to build strong leadership skills within your company TODAY. A good succession plan also keeps you accountable to your vision for your company. Therefore, it encourages you and your employees to consider the steps that need to be taken on a daily basis to produce the results you want tomorrow. In other words, a succession plan encourages you and your employees to constantly implement new strategies that will help achieve a larger goal or “the bigger picture.” This practice will, in turn, strengthen your company’s ability to survive daily industry changes.   
  4. It strengthens employee relationships and responsibilities: the process of devising a plan requires regular communication among your laborers, foremen/supervisors and administrative staff. All the different departments in your company should be encouraged to voice their opinion and express their needs and concerns. After all, creating and sustaining a succession plan should be a result of the combined effort of your entire company. It’s not something you can successfully go at alone.  
  5. It shows you ‘the grand scheme of things:’ taking the time to evaluate how your company operates on a day to day basis NOW so you can plan for the future, opens your eyes to the ‘grand scheme of things.’ Creating a succession plan forces you to examine all your employees, as well as their designated responsibilities, to evaluate what needs to change and what (skill-sets, talents, personality-types) should be required for future positions within your company.  

How one LMN member used succession planning to transform his landscaping company:

There’s no denying the importance of proper succession planning. In fact, one of our LMN members and their succession planning story was featured in The Globe and Mail this past Monday. Find out how Gelderman Landscaping, a company with a 55 year history and two significant successions has not only succeeded, but thrived, with well planned, well executed succession planning. Read their story here.

Landscape Management Network is a collection of systems, tools, and training to help great contractors build and manage great businesses. Visit the LMN website.

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