Tips for succession to a Millennial generation member

Here are some tips for business owners who are considering transferring control to a Millennial family member:

Understand their perspective. Millennials want to know how their current job will drive them toward their long-term goals, which may or may not involve the family business. Helping Millennials develop stimulating action plans to help them advance to their next leadership role can be both engaging and rewarding.

Be transparent about the succession process. Instead of avoiding the elephant in the room, talk about succession early on. This lowers tensions and may spark greater interest in the business as a career. Transparency will open the door to dialogue about future visions and management styles. It will create opportunities for current leaders to mentor and train their successors.

Be receptive to innovative ideas. Opening up to the rising generation’s innovative ideas can build trust and create new opportunities for family businesses. Discussing new ideas before the transition occurs can give current leadership a chance to merge incoming ideas with existing business values.

Take the time to train and mentor your future successors. A delicate balance must be found between mentoring the next generation and creating a dependence on guidance from elders; it’s wise to let family members make and learn from their own mistakes. A training program should be developed that will boost their confidence and capability when it’s their turn to lead. Employees in a family business are more likely to accept their Millennial bosses if they have been visibly and reliably learning the business rather than suddenly jumping in to take the helm overnight.

Parcel out your CEO responsibilities as you prepare to leave the business. As your retirement date nears, slowly begin assigning your duties to your successor. Clearly distinguish which of you should handle specific responsibilities until a point at which they have taken over all the duties and you are ready to hand over the reins. Employees must be kept aware of the successors new duties, especially as the situation affects them.

• Actually leave the company when you retire. Family dynamics may cause children to be reluctant to assert their own power. Having the old boss on the job can detract from the authority of the new leader and confuse employees. New leaders need time to develop their own management style and vision for the business, gaining respect without standing in the shadows of their predecessors.

“Understanding Millennials’ traits will help you prepare for succession,” by Pamela Wasley, Family Business Magazine, November/December 2015.

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