Monday, October 31, 2011

Do your potential successors fit this bill? If not, move on!

The retirement wave has officially begun in the A/E industry. Since 2007, the percentage of employee turnover attributable to retirement or health issues has almost doubled. Yet the number of principals who have prepared ownership or leadership transition plans has actually dropped since 2007. If you are one of the 60 percent of principals who have no plans, you need to start evaluating your potential successors to ensure they will carry on the name and reputation of your firm long after you’ve retired.

Think about the people who are your obvious successors and decide whether these criteria describe them:

• Vision. Leaders create a vision for the firm and the future that inspires and motivates others.

• Focus. Leaders spend their energy in the few directions that will really make a difference to clients and to the firm over the long term.

• Values. Leaders embody the personal and professional values that you want to perpetuate in your firm.

• Client relations. Leaders understand what matters to clients and they motivate staff to excel in those areas. They inspire confidence in clients and potential clients.

• Empowerment. Leaders coach employees, help them grow personally and professionally, and encourage them to think and act like entrepreneurs within the boundaries of their responsibilities.

• Achievement. Leaders get things done, maximizing their own performance and constantly looking for ways to maximize the performance of the firm.

• Quality. Leaders strive to continuously improve the quality of their own work and the work of others in the firm, to satisfy and delight clients.

• Optimism. Leaders are positive about the future, and they don’t let obstacles deter them from accomplishing their goals. Their optimism is contagious.

• Teamwork. Leaders enjoy working with, and through, people. They look for opportunities to praise the efforts of others on the team. People like to work with them, and choose them as role models.

• Flexibility. Leaders perceive when their style or approach is not working in a particular situation and they’re not afraid to change to get the results they desire.

• Management. Leaders understand the systems and procedures that make your firm operate as a business. They know how to use these systems to maximize your performance and your profitability.

These traits are a great starting point, but you can take your evaluation of potential successors beyond this step. Come to PSMJ’s Ownership Transition Roundtable, November 8-9, in San Diego, CA for more advice on how to select your future successors and successfully turn your firm over to their capable hands.

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