Would recruiting externally be easier?
I’m looking to retire in the next 18 months and am in the process of choosing a candidate to head up my 30-person business. Although I’ve selected someone from the company’s existing management team, I’m concerned that those who didn’t get the job may leave. How can I ensure this doesn’t happen? Is it easier to reconsider and go for an external appointment?
Max Kantelia of McLaren Solutions writes:
External appointments should only be considered if the incumbent workforce lacks a possible successor. Although it may be easier in the short-term, hiring an outsider may damage the delicate hierarchy of your firm. It could also place the future of the business in jeopardy, unless you have stipulated exact criteria for ensuring you get the right person for the job. Then it starts getting expensive. So it’s best to hire from within.
Properly done, the successor should be evident well before the question is asked and the disappointment of remaining management avoided.
If there are multiple candidates it may be possible to increase the responsibilities of preferred individuals to see if they can perform. If it becomes apparent one is not ready, a process of mentoring and training may be undertaken to bring them up to speed, or another candidate selected for the deputy role to test their mettle.
The real question here is how to present this to the management team in the first place. Do you tell them that they are equally in the running and allow them to slug it out for 18 months? Or do you carefully observe and form a decision based upon merit, announcing the decision nearer the time? Should a manager-designate be announced now and groomed so they can step comfortably into the role with the full support of colleagues?
Clearly, the first will do more harm than good and the second option is quicker, but higher risk. The third, however, offers the most transparent process for the smoothest transition. Also, if disgruntled peers leave, there will be adequate opportunity to replace them in the interim so business continuity can be maintained.