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Published 29 October 2012 10:20, Updated 01 November 2012 04:06
Senior partners at regional accounting firms who are approaching retirement are starting to think about succession plans. Leadership Circle Asia Pacific director of commercial and governance Greg Lourey has helped many firms prepare their succession strategies and gives his tips for how to manage succession.
01Owners need to let go of the idea that all staff want to be partners/owners. This may not be the staff member’s definition of career success.
02Partners need to get clear on what their firm is about – what does it stand for, what is its purpose for being in business. Once this is clear then they have a basis on which to shape a career plan for staff and a succession plan for the firm.
03Career success is about having “a rewarding career”. It’s not about ownership, unless that is the specific desire of the staff member. A rewarding career may constitute quality training, challenging client work, client contact, autonomy in decision-making, leadership development and appropriate remuneration.
04In the recruitment process, clearly define the firm’s purpose and find out the recruit’s personal goals and aspirations. It’s important to find some degree of alignment between what the recruit wants in his or her career and what the firm expects.
05Succession planning is not a 12-month-out process. Partners need to be looking out at least five years ahead. Identify the staff with potential and desire for ownership and who can take over and cultivate the client relationship .
06Provide leadership development support to the incoming owner(s). This means more than just providing them with a set of skills but enabling them to participate in executive coaching and leadership development programs. This is aimed at building their capacity to deal with a more complex operating environment in the transition from employee to owner.
07Owners need to be open to transitioning themselves out of the business rather than treat it as a once-off liquidity event. This may mean working fewer days a week over a period of time to assist the client relationship transition and/or stay on in a consulting role to support the retention of loyal clients.
08Owners should consider staying engaged with the new owners. They should play a mentoring role for the new owners.