EMH Insights

What is Succession Planning?

If you are a successful business owner, or one who works for a thriving business, you are undoubtedly prepared to deal with the daily challenges that can (and do) get thrown your way. From diversifying your product line as a hedge against seasonal demand, to buying insurance to protect against natural disasters, you might have a few contingency plans in place to protect from a volatile business climate. But are you prepared for the moment when you must one day hand over control of your prized business?

You may think that you still have many years of work ahead of you; isn’t it too early to start thinking about your exit strategy? Or, if you are nearing retirement age, you might wonder how you can prepare for a transition of company leadership. If you want to ensure a smooth transition to the next generation, while maintaining the high quality work you currently provide, it is never too early to start strategizing. Here are a few ideas that you can implement immediately into your business:

1. Standardize your operations
One key piece to succession planning is to prepare the company to operate without the current management team in charge. While you might be apprehensive to think of your business running without the current leadership at the helm, coming to terms with this reality allows you to identify processes that need standardization. For instance, it can be helpful to take a step back and make a list of positions the company needs to successfully operate, and include job descriptions and skills required for each. Also, utilizing project management and customer relationship management software can increase efficiency and consolidate company information into one place.

2. Invest in your staff
Another crucial element of planning for a successful transition of senior management is the investment in your current employees. This will take time and money, but it will pay off in the long-term when it comes time to make the change in management. Resources should be invested in the professional development and training of employees, as well as in their well-being and overall satisfaction. Is there anything you do on a daily basis that no one else knows about or knows how to do? Teaching these skills to current employees can facilitate transition down the road. Do you treat your staff well? If employees are happy at work, chances are they will stay with your company, and you will gain trustworthy people who are invested in the company’s future. Identifying those people now that will become future corporate leaders gives you the time to groom them as your successors.

3. Get an outside perspective of core capabilities
Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to succession planning. That’s where we come in. At EMH, we are able to study a company’s unique needs, identify gaps in current operations, and consequently devise a plan for transition. While legal advice is necessary at the time of leadership turnover, planning first can help eliminate costly legal fees and ultimately ensure a smooth transition. An outside perspective can often help you identify your areas of improvement.

Thinking about your company’s future does not need to be nerve-wracking. In fact, preparing for succession, even if years away, can improve your operations today. To learn more about succession planning, click here or shoot us an email at