The Changing of the Guard: Rules for Successful Succession Planning in Business

By Al Weatherhead

I remember going to work six years ago at Weatherchem, my plastic caps and closures company. Before going to my office I walked around the factory floor to say hello. John, an employee, stopped me on my rounds.

“Mr. Weatherhead,” he asked. “Is it true you’re retiring?”

“Not retiring,” I replied. “However I will be bringing in a new executive team so that I can transition out of the day-to-day management.”

John looked worried. “Will we be all right? Will our jobs be safe? What’s going to happen when you’re gone? What’s going to change at Weatherchem? Will you still be around to guide us?”

I was brought almost to tears by John’s deep faith in me, his concern for the company, and of course, for his own personal wellbeing as a Weatherchem employee. I responded to him candidly and with respectful humility.

“I don’t yet know what the future executive management team will look like. My sense is that all will come out safely. There will be some transient upset but it will pass, our ship will stay on course and we will move forward as we always have. I promise that I will share what I can with everyone as soon as I have more answers…”

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