Succession planning is a critical aspect of running any business but is essential for an active architecture firm. A well thought out succession plan can help ensure your firm remains successful after owners or partners retire or key leaders move on. Here are some strategies to meet the transition head on so your firm can weather the changes that come when leadership retire, or growth requires new leaders to emerge.
Develop Leadership from Within
If you develop leadership from within, you will have a better controlling the transition. You don’t want an external leader coming in who only cares about the financial side of things—not about fostering great leadership. You also don’t want a leader who isn’t self-sufficient. Why retire if the new owner is going to constantly come to you for advice. By grooming a leader from within the company, you can instill in an employee that you trust them with the business sense and the leadership skills that they will need to take over the firm and move it in a positive direction. The process will require a substantial amount of training and mentorship but will lead to a much smoother transition.
Time here is also key. This process can take years to prepare someone, or a group, to take over the firm. You should ask yourself often “Who is my next leader?” You should ask it when hiring new talent and when you are reviewing your existing team.
Create a Roadmap Using a Generational Approach
You want to start planning for the succession as early as possible. Your firm has three generations. The first generation consists of you and your partners, while the second generation consists of current managers. The third generation consists or future leaders. The goal of your roadmap should be to develop leadership qualities in your second-generation employees. You also want to encourage your third-generation employees and give them the space they need to take on greater responsibility. This training takes time so, as mentioned before, the earlier you start the better.
If you know that you want to eventually retire, you need to fill your company with intelligent, ambitious employees who will be loyal to the company after you’re gone. If you have the right talent, your company will be successful with or without you. Retention is key. If all your best employees are gone a couple years after you retire, the firm could go under. While training and incentive programs can help, hiring is also important. You want to hire people who are competent and loyal. You want people who are inspired by your vision of your form and want to grow and improve upon that vision. You want to find people who you believe will make good leaders. That way when you retire, you can groom them to become the leaders that your company will need in the future.
Many owners are reluctant to retire because they worry about how the company will fare without them. They put decades of their time and energy into building a successful company, so they don’t want to abandon their hard work. Having a clear, effective succession plan, however, will allow them to ensure that the company continues to thrive after they leave the firm by fostering new leadership with the skills to continue your legacy.
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