We’ve written from time to time about using employee career planning to help grow your people as well as your agency and its services. The benefits of helping employees identify and work toward goals are many, among them:
- The ability to plan and budget for training and hiring
- More satisfied, motivated and engaged employees
- A reputation for lifting up employees that improves your recruiting outlook
- Management’s improved understanding of what motivates employees
- Improved employee retention
But here is an often-overlooked benefit of working with employees to develop their career plan—you gain insights into which employees may be interested in, or even aspire to become the agency’s next owners.
Inside People Beat Outsiders
Knowing who among your core staff may be potential purchasers or successors of your agency is a huge benefit. Finding a successor outside of your agency comes with problems we have also discussed at length, including finding people your employees will accept as new leaders, a leader who fits with your culture and values, and someone who can build and maintain valued client relationships. Too often, a transition to new leadership is so disruptive, the agency bleeds clients, people and money—and since many agency owners rely on a buyout over time to sell their agencies, bleeding in any part of agency operations means a reduced likelihood of achieving your hoped-for price.
When the new leaders are already in the agency; known to staff, clients and vendors; and vested in the agency’s values, culture and accounts, you can transition more gradually and be more assured that the buyout will progress smoothly.
How Career Planning Helps Grow Future Leaders
When you help an employee develop a career plan, you learn many things about that employee’s ambitions and aspirations. Over time, as you conduct career plan check-ins, you also gain insight into personality, focus, and leadership skills. (Read “Should Your Successor Be Just LikeYou” in the Fall 2019 Second Wind Magazine.) This will help you identify people who can be guided to grow the skills needed to eventually take over agency leadership.
Core people interested in eventually owning the business can be trained in operational matters they may be weak in, like company financial management, or human resources. You can include potential successors in management discussions so they can become conversant in the issues and challenges of running a business. You can also spot which team members may be compatible partners, or be willing seconds to your eventual new leaders. As an owner, you already know it takes a village to make an agency thrive.
In short, career planning helps you spot future successors, mentor and train them, and encourage them in aspiring to buy you out. You also have a chance to set up stakeholder programs to begin to grow employees’ financial stake in the agency’s ongoing success.
If you are beginning to think about retirement, include employee career planning to help identify your best prospects for the agency’s next owners. Your best successor candidates are already in your agency, waiting to step into the spotlight.