Tips for Planning your Leadership Transition from the Family Business
There are two things that a current family business CEO needs to keep in mind when transitioning the company to the next CEO: there needs to be a personal transition plan and a professional one, and they need to be done simultaneously. Get buy-in from the management team on the professional plan and from your family on the personal one.
Make a bucket list of things you want to do in the next chapter of your life. Prioritize the list so that as soon as you step down, you do something that takes you away from your former routine. For instance, you may take a trip you’ve wanted to do for years.
Here are some other ideas for easing into that next phase of your life.
On the personal side:
• Begin by taking Fridays off so you have a long weekend. On your days off, only check emails twice a day, and don’t answer your email or voicemail unless it is an emergency.
• In a slated period of time, add in taking Mondays off, following the same email and voice mail rules.
• In another set period of time, only come into the business for coffee and conversation and then only for essential meetings.
On the professional side:
• Be very clear and communicate your intentions with your management team so that they know when to and when not to include you in things. For instance: "The new CEO is Mark and Mark is taking over on May 1. After May 1, I no longer have that title, so you don’t need to check with me about things, you need to talk with Mark.’’
• Make an official announcement to your employees and your family, with clear-cut dates for when things are changing.
• Remove yourself from email distribution lists.
A lot of family owners say they want to get out of the day-to-day part of the business but still want to be involved. If that’s your situation, consider taking on only special projects, and physically move into another, smaller office. Stop attending operational management meetings. Be available as a consultant but be confident that your successor has been developed well.