Mark Richardson: The importance of transition
While the economy has many builders in bunker mode, now is the time to start thinking long term — for both your business and professional career, writes business coach Mark Richardson.
Mark Richardson, Co-Chairman, Case Design Remodeling and Case Institute of Remodeling
Given the challenging economic environment of the last several years, many businesses have been focused on just getting through the next week or month. Longer-term discussions by both the company leaders and individual team members represent a very small percentage of time. While this is understandable, it may not be the healthiest position for the business, both short and long term. I believe a more active thought process and discussion on the subject of transition is critical to a business’s long-term success.
Many years ago, I had dinner with a very successful friend in the technology arena. He had grown his business to a place where he had achieved most of his professional and financial goals. I asked him, “So what’s next for your own professional world?” His answer is one that not only has been quoted hundreds of times, but is a model for most success-oriented businesses to embrace. He said, “I’m looking for someone to fire me. For me to grow and the business to move to the next level, I need the next leader to be in place.” For most, the thought of finding someone to fire them is pretty unsettling. But as you reflect on it, it is also quite invigorating. It’s like removing your straightjacket and taking your personal game to the next level.
Imagine doing what you’re doing five years from now. You may love it now, but I doubt you will in the future. The concept of personal and professional growth is a very natural one. You grow from a child to a teenager to an adult. Along the way, the dynamic of your day and week changes. Why should this not also be true with your business?
Succession plans are not only about exits, they’re also about the here and now. Some mature businesses and large corporations have succession plans for all mid-level managers and senior-team members within the organization. Here are a few lessons learned to consider when planning your next career move:
- Great team members want a career not a job. A career involves a plan of where you will be in the future. To be in a different role requires training to get the best results. Start discussing this now so you are not caught short of time.
- Know where you are heading, then develop a plan to get there. This plan should take into account the growth goals, as well as the people and strategies required to get there. You would not tackle a major construction project without a plan, so why would you not use the same approach with the future of your business?
- Write down what you think your typical day will look like five years from now. Take into account your age and your family dynamic. This process reaffirms the importance of transition both for you and your key players.
- Don’t underestimate the effect of transition on team members. While change is necessary, it is also scary for most people. Try to be patient and you will see a more successful outcome.
- Get help. There are numerous experts in the area of transition planning. Your passion is home building, not transition planning, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Just like your personal life, business is dynamic. What you see today will not be what you see in the future. The question is whether you will make the right transitions to help the business grow and prosper. By proactively thinking and discussing this subject, the answers, while tough, will become clearer.
Mark Richardson is co-chairman of Case Design Remodeling Inc. and the Case Institute of Remodeling. He is a member of the NAHB Remodeling Hall of Fame and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Richardson is the author of the best-selling book, How Fit is Your Business?, and a forthcoming book, Business Themes to Live By, to be published this fall. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.