You’ve gone through the laborious process of creating a succession plan and naming the proper successor for your company.
Now comes one of the most challenging parts: you have to figure out how to train them.
And it won’t happen overnight.
Training a new CEO will likely be a multi-year process to prepare them to lead your organization. Here’s a guide that will help you get started on creating a custom training plan.
Establish a Clear and Reasonable Timeline
Your training timeline will vary depending on your choice of successor.
If you choose an external candidate, you may want to bring them on sooner and extend the training timeline until they get a better feel for the company.
For example, if you’re hiring a family member who wasn’t previously involved in the company, you may want to make the transition more gradual, so your employees don’t feel an abrupt shift. It is important to have a strategy for family business planning. You also don’t want to overwhelm the successor. An incremental transition helps set up everyone for success!
On the other hand, if you opt for an internal hire, you may want to condense their training timeline since they are familiar with the organization, the people within it, and how it runs daily.
The timeline for training your successor should be custom to you and your business. At the end of the day, it’s essential to think of the longevity and success of your organization with every decision you make.
Choose a successor that’s an influential and understanding leader—don’t select one because of a shorter timeline. In this case, it’s often true that slow and steady wins the race.
Build A Training Plan
Whether you already have a formal process or doing this for the first time, implement a clear plan for training. Here are four key areas you can weave throughout your training plan.
1. Set Clear Goals and Milestones.
As with any solid financial plan, a smooth succession plan starts with establishing clear goals.
- What learning, leadership, and industry goals do you have for your successor?
- How much time will it take for them to reach these goals?
- What’s your and their desired training timeline?
- What are their goals for the training and transition process?
When you bring on a new leader, it’s critical that training be an open and collaborative dialogue. That way, you and your successor will get the most out of the experience.
Together, set concrete goals for education, performance, and other indicators.
2. Introduce Them to the Team.
Your successor should be present with you in meetings, client interactions, product reviews, and company events. These interactions introduce the successor to your product, services, clients, and team on a deeper level. It’s a hands-on way that they can learn from you and possibly identify ways to improve processes.
3. Let Them Shadow You.
Before you hand over the keys, it may be a good idea for your successor to shadow you for a set period. About 3-6 months of shadowing will give them a clear picture of their new responsibilities and inspire confidence to lead when you’re gone.
4. Set Up One-on-One Meetings.
Training your successor is a hectic time for both of you, so be sure to set aside some time once a week to catch up and get a good idea of how the transition is going. In these meetings, it could be beneficial to cover:
- Status of training
- Any present or future roadblocks
- Development goals and opportunities
Even though you’ll make some tweaks and modifications to your training plan depending on the successor and your business needs, it’s essential to prioritize these four training elements. Doing so will seamlessly integrate new leadership into your team and promote buy-in from the entire organization.
Use The Job Description As A Guide
The job description can be a valuable tool when training your successor. It’s a document packed with details about the skills and requirements necessary for success, which is why it can be a great guide as you train your successor.
Go down the list of each skill and get them started on the most important ones first. Once they master one, they can move on to the next.
This process will allow your successor to put their skills to work while identifying areas for improvement.
Invest In Useful Training
Your successor may not have all the skills they need to succeed right out the gate—and that’s okay! In your one-on-one meetings, you’ll discover various strengths and weaknesses you can build and improve on. The most important thing is to give them the necessary resources to take this next step.
Your successor may need to strengthen their time management, relationship, or project management skills (we can’t all be perfect at everything!)—invest in a course or training that will help them grow where you need them to.
For example, if they’re an excellent leader but aren’t amazing at project management, consider enrolling them in a course or attending a conference about project management.
Provide A List Of Resources
Every company does things differently, so be sure you give your successor all the tools they need to do well. Company-specific information such as rules, policies, procedures, contacts, and contingency plans are vital to pass along.
Don’t forget about password and login information!
Outlining best practices and potential challenges are also extremely helpful in preparing your successor for their new role. Be clear about the positives and negatives of their new role and give them the tools and advice they need to overcome challenges.
It’s important to be as comprehensive as possible here. No one likes to be blindsided—it hurts not only the successor but the company as well.
Be Open To Change
Your successor likely isn’t a carbon copy of you—they’ll have new ideas and perspectives to bring to the table. And while that may be challenging, it’s a necessary process to take your organization to the next level.
Throughout the training, encourage your successor to explore new strategies and take the lead where they feel comfortable. As you go over procedures and policies, be open to potential changes that your successor may suggest. They may pitch an idea that will surprise or even excite you.
Encourage them to have a voice and grow into the leader you always knew they could be, which is exactly what we do for our clients.
At Toberman Wealth, we focus on helping businesses grow and reach their goals. If you have questions about training your successor, get in touch.
Craig Toberman is the Founder of Toberman Wealth – a fee-only, fiduciary financial advisor based in St. Louis. He assists families and businesses with strategic financial planning and long-term wealth management. He has over a decade of experience in financial services and has crafted custom financial plans for hundreds of families and businesses.
Craig received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Agricultural and Consumer Economics from the University of Illinois and a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree in Finance from Saint Louis University. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder, and Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Craig is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), Fee-Only Network, and XY Planning Network.
Craig lives in the greater St. Louis area with his wife, Ally and son, Hank.