The 3 Essential Conversations to Jumpstart Your Succession Planning

3 essential conversations

The 3 Essential Conversations to Jumpstart Your Succession Planning

The volume of calls I’ve received in recent months from “Next Gen” professionals—including potential successors—has increased… a lot.  There is a consistent theme with these conversations:  Expectations are not being met.  Also, consistent across the board:  all were emotionally charged with feelings ranging from mild dissatisfaction or disappointment to frustration and anger.

The catalyst for these feelings was their perception (expectations!) of the firm’s leadership, including succession planning, and its personal impact on them, their career, and their family.

These stories, shared with so much passion, offer an opportunity for reflection for me as a succession coach and for all the firm founders/shareholders/leaders out there struggling with effectively attracting, engaging, and retaining the next generation of leaders and owners.

If this resonates with you, it’s time to take off the blinders so that you can tap into an authentic desire to build rapport.  What are your blind spots around team engagement?

Engagement requires rapport and happens one conversation at a time.


Now more than ever, people matter, relationships matter, culture matters

A recent article published by the Association for Talent Development shared nine keys to employee engagement and retention. The author shares insights and research that support the idea that following “two years of a ‘pandemic induced reflection’ employees now hold a lot of power and unwillingness to put up with a job, manager or career that is not working for them.”

The absence of personal connection combined with a lack of transparent communication is identified as a root cause of this!

This resonated deeply with me as I too recognize this issue—attracting and retaining talent—as a very real strategic challenge for my clients.  Yet, in my view, even more important is the very powerful, unseen emotional undercurrent flowing through firms in the independent wealth management and financial planning industry.  This is a powerful force getting in the way of building rapport and engagement.culture and values

Leaders who are “too busy” with a singular focus on growth and revenue are often blind to their role in creating the emotional undercurrent and the kind of culture created as a result.  The unspoken message being sent is that team members are not a priority.  Real relationship and rapport are not valued.

If creating a successful succession plan is a priority for you and your partners, a shift in perspective is urgently needed:

There is no value in your succession planning without valuing people. 

A non-negotiable place to start:

  • Prioritizing time to “zoom out” to see the big picture—what is your desired outcome in terms of engagement and your strategic aspirations?
  • Identify your starting point from a relationship/stakeholder perspective.
  • Who are the essential stakeholders you need to have a conversation with?

Elevate engagement with three essential (and courageous!) conversations.

Prioritizing and initiating these courageous conversations can feel daunting when everyone is SO BUSY.  And yet, it’s not optional if you want real engagement and buy-in for your business strategy today and your plans for succession.

I like to use the lens of “win-win-win” from my Triple Win Formula for Succession Success.  This opens up the communication to allow space for your stakeholder’s aspirations and values (their win) to be considered alongside of yours and the clients.

triple win succession formula

You lay a foundation for success one rapport building conversation at a time focused on what matters most in creating a shared vision of success.   These are inclusive, courageous, candid (aka out-loud) conversations between people who care about each other, their work and truly desire a “win-win” outcome.

  1. The first of the essential conversations: With yourself! Self-reflection is not optional in this process.  Get clear on your intentions and your desired impact as you engage with each essential stakeholder.
  2. The second conversation: With your “partners” or fellow shareholders. Show up with an intention to gain insight into what their personal aspirations are for themselves and the business. Listening and clarifying understanding to identify any gaps in your goals.
  3. The third conversation(s): With Next Gen professionals and other essential team members. Consider this a listening tour!  Get to know each person including their personal aspirations for their life and career.  What are they excited about?  What do they value?  What do they need more of or less of from you?

This simple, yet not easy, process can help you assess where you are relationally and answer the question:  Do your internal stakeholders—your team and successors—know how much you value them?

Imagine, what could be possible when you replace unspoken assumptions and expectations with whole-hearted buy-in for a shared vision of success. 

Right now, is the perfect time—even though many of us are still working remotely—to cultivate deeper connections within your team. 

The greater the rapport, the greater the trust.  The greater the trust the stronger your firm’s culture—a solid foundation for succession planning “the right way.”

Do you want to dig deeper into how you jumpstart your essential conversations?

I can help.

Let’s connect.  Together we’ll determine what you really want so that you and your business thrive on this phase of your journey… starting right where you are.

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Click here to download our complimentary report– “5 Questions Business Owners Never Ask and Should, to Create a Succession Plan that Works ”