Are you developing a successor for your position, with the objective of transitioning out in the foreseeable future? If so, you have likely experienced the apprehension and emotion associated with that process. We have worked with leaders who identify a transition date and others who have not, with successful outcomes in both scenarios. That said, we encourage you to think about identifying a specific transition date for a number of reasons:
- It sends a message to your successor, your employees and other stakeholders that you are serious about the transition;
- It motivates you to develop key milestones in the process that need to be met in advance of that date;
- It prompts your board to set expectations for progress reports along the way, and provides you with a source of feedback on that progress;
- It helps you envision and plan for your role beyond that date – perhaps as board chair, as a retiree, as a leader in a new capacity;
- It sets in motion a variety of other decisions throughout the organization that help prepare for the transition.
Setting a transition date is definitive, and makes it very real, and perhaps a bit scary. Yet if it doesn’t feel real to those around you, the energy invested in the transition might be insufficient to meet your expected outcomes. This might be the biggest business decision you ever make; setting a transition date is one of many steps in ensuring transition success.