Succession & Transition Management – Properly Prepared

When leadership transitions are well planned the new captain can build upon the direction and strength of their predecessor, sustaining momentum and retaining the confidence of the crew. Unfortunately, 40-50% of family-led businesses don’t invest or invest too late in succession planning. A clumsy or rushed hand-off makes it easy to lose direction, where some crew members fall overboard and others whisper mutiny. Depending on the conditions when the helm was passed, the ship takes on water and eventually recovers, or it capsizes. Boston Consulting Group indicates that “poorly planned successions are among the biggest value-destroying events for family-owned businesses”.

Of course, a change in captain is made easier if the ship is well-equipped, and the direction already sound. At Cheney Consulting Services, succession planning is not completed in a vacuum. We work with our clients to understand the owner’s strategy and direction, the current health of the business, and what this implies for the future leadership team.

Organization Effectiveness & Efficiency – Well Equipped

Simply put, do your people, systems, organization structure, work processes, etc enable or hamper your business’s capacity to translate strategy into sustainable profit? All businesses have conflicting priorities – does the organization align or exacerbate these conflicts? For example, when sales outstrips production or service capability, how does the organization react? Does the sales team offer concessions to customers for slow deliveries or do they begin forecasting even larger volumes to push production to have more reserve capability? Does production increases speed or compensate with longer hours at the expense of safety, quality or good maintenance practices or do they systematically underestimate their capacity to produce to give them some buffer during catch-up periods? Who determines if the mismatch is temporary or something more chronic and what to do about it?

Cheney Consulting Services acts like an organizational chiropractor – assessing where lack of alignment is causing dysfunction and will work with its clients to define and help implement practical solutions to gain organizational power and flexibility.

Executive Coaching – Well Led

The inherent challenge of leadership is that it is situational. The characteristics that make a “jungle-fighter” effective in a turn-around situation may be disastrous with a well-run machine that needs optimization and continuous improvement. The way you engage with shop floor employees versus the sales team versus your banker may alter your approach, as would it if you were a co-worker, supervisor, or the business owner. You may also need to adapt to gender, culture, generational differences or simply the emotional state of a given employee on a given day. Introduce family members into the mix and things can get rather complicated as the line “its not personal, its just business” has less currency.

The more senior the role, the more complex the range of expected leadership skills and adaptability. Well-informed and constructive feedback can accelerate growth in these various leadership areas, but as you rise in the organization, your team begins to hedge their feedback and sometimes we aren’t really actively listening. At some point, “it gets lonely at the top” takes on a personal meaning. An objective and experienced guide can be a safe sounding board and open up new opportunities to build out your leadership and interpersonal skills. Let’s talk, and listen.