Tag Archives: Assistance

How Do You Plan for Succession? Four Points

Situation: The CEO of a family business seeks to create a succession plan. One family member has expressed an interest in taking the reins of the company but has failed to take the initiative to demonstrate that he is prepared to take on this role. Another family member is now demonstrating both interest and initiative. How do you plan for succession?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • How should this situation be approached?
    • Do not view this situation competitively, but rather from the standpoint of what is best for the whole family because many family members stand to benefit from the ongoing success of the business.
    • Whatever decision is made, the successor will need support and assistance understanding both the financial and business sides of the company. This individual must also be aware of conflicts and challenges that face the business.
  • What else should be done to prepare for succession?
    • Given that there are two individuals interested in becoming CEO sit down with each individual and negotiate a clear boundary statement on what you, as CEO, can and can’t do, as well as what can and cannot be expected of you, as CEO, as the succession decision is made. This understanding should be documented in writing and signed, signifying understanding by both the CEO and the candidate. Each candidate should have their own signed agreement with the CEO.
    • In a family business, the CEO, as guarantor of the company, may be faced with a different level of financial risk than other family members. Both candidates for the CEO position must understand that if they accept this position, they also accept this risk.

How Do You Manage Communications Post-Riff? Three Thoughts

Situation: A company missed production milestones and had to reduce top and line staff by 20% to keep salaries in line with expected revenue.  An executive who was very angry about being let go has asked the CEO to meet him for lunch. How do you manage communications with employees post-riff?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • If you haven’t already, call a company meeting to explain the situation, as well as the rationale for the riff. The company has to manage itself financially in line with current and expected future revenue to assure that it can take care of employees. Explain the connection between production milestones, revenue, and the company’s ability to afford staff. Employees generally understand these connections and will accept this well.
  • When you have lunch with the executive, first listen to what he has to say.
    • Anger expressed in an exit interview is part of a natural emotional response to difficult news or change. Listen for signs of ongoing anger or progress toward acceptance of the situation.
    • If the individual threatens the company or tries to bargain the severance package, don’t negotiate.
    • However, if the individual is reasonable and asks for assistance in finding a next position – references, introductions, etc. – then offer to assist as you can.
  • Should the CEO make an attempt to follow-up with others who were riffed?
    • No. If they contact you, then respond in a similar fashion as you are to the VP, but otherwise don’t try to contact them.
    • In the Silicon Valley economy, people are familiar that employment situations change and know that as this happens they can be affected.