Succession Plans are typically for a change in business ownership.  As well as they should be – you want the business to continue on its path of success as you plan for succession.  (Ah, see what I did there? Stay with me, there’s more).

All too often we’re seeing the transfer of a business – and insurance agencies in particular – pass from one generation of leadership to the next.  They’re passing the ownership, but the succession can be elusive.  The first line needs to feel confident that the second line will carry the momentum forward and the second line needs the first to let go.  Neither line may be fully prepared for what the future holds.

Wait, it’s not just limited to ownership level either. 

Succession is an issue that effects every job description!  An employee must build confidence, experience and knowledge in order to prove they’re prepared to succeed at the next level.  Their manager, who also needs the same to move up, can build this by bringing employees inside of their role.  It should be a ladder effect with each level helping the one behind to move upwards.

By sharing the insights and secrets involved with being at a higher organizational level, that manager can prove to the hierarchy that it will be a seamless succession for all involved.

The key to succession: Make yourself replaceable. 

Make yourself replaceable!  It’s the secret most successful business people know, yet few actually follow. Regardless of whether you are the CEO/Owner, department supervisor, or even the newest intern, the only way to forge a path forward is to be sure you have someone prepared and ready to fill your shoes.  You have to be generous in your time, talents and treasures.  Hoarding your role will only cause opportunities to pass by.

Sure, it’s easy to say (or write in this case).  You probably have heard phrases like “be open” or  “build people up” and of course  “allow them to grow, so you can too.”  What if you don’t believe they have what it takes?  What if you don’t trust they’ll do a good job?  Then either they’re in the wrong roles, or you are because leadership is empowerment, trust and generosity – without it, you’re just someone giving directions on how you want tasks done.

To move on you must be sure to develop a solid team behind you.  They absolutely must clearly know your plans and prepare themselves to fill your shoes.  Only when you are truly replaceable, will you be truly ready for your own next chapter.

Bonus content! 

Sure, not everyone is cut out to be CEO yet everyone should be given the chance to advance as far as they can go.  Though there are more, here are four of our favorite steps we use with our clients to put the success back into succession:

Understand your employees: Profile their natural abilities and traits. Tools such as DiSC™, Kolbe™, Strengthfinders™, Culture Index™ and others will give invaluable insights on your individual team members.  With this knowledge, you can ensure the right people are in the right seats.

Utilize a career planning tool: Allow them to have a voice in their future. Take every employee through the process of analyzing their current roles, future opportunities and how it all relates to their profiles.  By doing so, you are offering them the opportunity to have full buy-in for your agency’s succession.

Create an internal leadership program: Tap rising stars for additional growth through learning opportunities.  We’ve created several highly successful leadership certificate programs for clients that help them to encourage upward mobility for their employees.

Enable them to lead special projects: Let them get their feet wet!  By using your up-and-coming employees to lead special projects, you’re allowing them the hands-on opportunity to develop their leadership skills.  It builds confidence and experience while helping you move forward.  Win-win!!!