Transferring a retailer to a successor is one of the hardest tasks in the business. A change of power is fraught with many pitfalls, which competently circumventing is real art. What tips can be used to facilitate this difficult process, shares expert SR, business coach Anya Pabst.
In business, a competent transfer of power largely depends on the right time and planning, regardless of whether the general director of the shopping center is replaced by a large work team, where dozens of employees work, or the manager of a small outlet, where the whole team can hardly have five people. For obvious reasons, the situation causes increased attention and nervousness of employees who are waiting and fearing change, passing folk wisdom by word of mouth like “a new broom sweeping in a new way” and just in case, updating the resume on job search sites.
Therefore, the transparency, timeliness and organization of the process of transfer of power is reflected not only in the revenue and success of the enterprise, but also helps to maintain calm and motivation of employees who are worried about their jobs, the size of bonuses and fear changes in the hierarchy. The task of finding and transferring cases to a successor is no less worrying for the leader himself, who devoted many years to the development of his enterprise.
In Germany, the economy of which relies heavily on small and medium-sized businesses, the tradition to transfer family businesses from parents to children, representing the family business as part of a marketing concept: quality, centuries-old traditions, the experience of many generations that customers trust. But even in this rather conservative environment, the share of family-owned enterprises is gradually falling, including because the heirs prefer to seek their own path, rather than remain on the sidelines until the 40-50 years, when it comes time to take the reins of government from retiring parents.
In modern Russia, the question of transferring a retail enterprise to a successor actually arises for the first time and is a unique phenomenon for the Russian market and the CIS market: it is relevant for those who entered the shoe business in the early nineties, and who needs time to transfer the established business to and gradually moving away from business, go on a well-deserved rest.
The successor in the family business is a new generation of people who have to develop what their parents created. The process of transferring power in this case is fraught with one important aspect: the commanding parent must understand when the moment comes to move to the background and allow another to become at the helm. It is in family enterprises that this often becomes a problem: to release the grip in time and let the successor act independently. At the same time, family relations should fade into the background, and professional relations should come to the fore: the norms and mission of the company, the traditions of dealing with customers and partners should be accepted by the heir with the same readiness and explained with the same rigor with which the boss would explain them to the new employee in a leadership position.
If this process is left to chance, a rich field for conflicts arises, according to statistics, such areas as marketing and public relations most often suffer from this, which the younger generation gladly accepts under their responsibility. Ideally, the process of transferring power should take place gradually and not depend on whether the current leader and his successor are connected by family relations. In the latter case, it may be necessary to involve a third party in the process - a trainer or consultant.
If the successor in the family business refuses to do business, direct management can be entrusted to the hired manager or to sell the company. It is also possible to choose a successor from the most capable mid-level managers. In all these cases, the question of finding a successor who will occupy the chair of the leader does not lose its acuteness. What recommendations should be followed to make the process as painless as possible and not affect the company's profits and prospects?
First of all, the search should begin in advance, and not at the last minute. The management should have time to consider several candidates, and also to try the best in business. It is optimal if he will spend a certain time - or even several years - as a deputy to truly understand all the processes taking place in the enterprise, to become his own in the team and to understand the features of the management of this particular company. Ideally, if such a successor grows out of the environment of his own employees and has managed to overcome several levels of the hierarchy within the campaign, as well as to prove itself in the eyes of colleagues and management.
The financial features of the transfer of business should also be agreed between the current and future leaders in advance: will the transfer take place immediately or gradually? In what algorithm and how will this affect the legal form of the enterprise? How long will it take and how will all legal and financial nuances be drawn up? Here, as in issues of team leadership, transparency of processes plays a huge role and helps to overcome inevitable difficulties.
Once again about delegation
If it is decided that in the process of transferring cases the successor will act for some time under the supervision of the current leader, gradually expanding the range of rights and obligations, the well-known topic of delegation of authority comes into play. This is reflected not only in the interaction of the current and future leader, but also in the process of the entire company - from top to lowest level.
If competent delegation of authority has been put on stream in the enterprise and is a part of working days, this should not be a problem in the case of a successor. So, the main component of delegation is trust. If certain functions or, for example, the management of a specific department has been left to the successor, he must be sure not only that he is responsible for the entrusted sphere, but also that the current leader trusts him and gives him the necessary authority to make decisions.
This does not mean that you can’t turn to the leader for advice - you can, and sometimes even need to, because for this, time is given for the transfer of power and the training of the new “monarch”. Another thing is that the current leader must be prepared to gently “let go of the reins” and not intervene at every stage, and the future boss should feel responsible and at the same time free to make decisions in the entrusted sphere.
The benefits of transparency
The process of delegation of authority will undoubtedly be closely monitored by other employees of the enterprise. Avoiding unnecessary problems and worries will help timely informing the team about upcoming changes. So, in the process of introducing a successor to the course of things, they will be able to establish healthy working relationships and avoid stress, in contrast to the unexpected “government coup” within the framework of one enterprise.
In any case, a change of leadership is not an easy time for the company. This applies to both internal customers (employees themselves) and external customers, including partners. To maintain a reputation and one's own place in a competitive environment, it is worthwhile to demonstrate stability and continuity not only to the team of employees, but also to all external contacts - from regular customers to media employees, partners and competitors. The gradual transfer of power will also help to maintain established contacts and the reputation of the company, rather than an unexpected change of power, which could negatively affect the image of the enterprise.
The desire for external openness to maintain the reputation of the enterprise and the peace of mind of customers may contrast with the need to keep certain aspects secret until a certain point in order to avoid, for example, attempts by competitors to win back positions in an unstable time for the company. Here you need to try to find a balance and understand how and when exactly you need to inform employees, partners and a further range of contacts.
Again, if relations at the enterprise are transparent, and employees trust their management, a change of government will not cause untimely information leaks or panic among employees who suddenly start to “unobtrusively” be interested in the presence of vacant positions in the market and this will cause a much greater information wave than if the company would have informed about the change of power in advance, and thus would have taken control of the process of disseminating information, preventing rumors. If the company is interested in the partners still trusting it, investors were ready to invest money, and banks to maintain a loyal credit policy - it would take care of a gradual and controlled change of government, as well as competent information support for this process.
The ship continues to move
The leader should strive to ensure that the company is managed until the last second of his authority, as if he would sit in the managerial chair for many more years. Nothing harms the image and prospects of the company as unnecessary shakes. The main message on the change of power, which should be broadcast inside and outside the company, is changes in the leadership as part of the ongoing, planned process as part of a long-term strategy for the development of the enterprise in the spirit of its traditions and values.
Even if finding and introducing a successor into the position turned out to be a difficult task, even if it affected the legal form of the enterprise and to some extent its structure, none of these changes should be carried out in a stressful situation under the influence of the moment. And one of the main conditions under which this can be achieved is the long-term streamlined processes at the enterprise, which the manager has achieved over the years of work, whose care will not call into question all the achievements of previous years.
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