Mastering the Succession Transfer


For the first time in history, four generations are working side-by-side in the workforce, including the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys (or the much talked about Millennial Generation) and it’s expected that number could rise to five generations by 2020.  Many current leaders are on the brink of retiring in record numbers, and it’s estimated that around 66% of all U.S. businesses are owned by Baby Boomers.  

So, what does this all mean for the future leadership of corporations and businesses?  The coming years will be crucial as Traditionalists and Baby Boomers exit the workforce and new leaders from Gen X and Gen Y take the reins.

So how can you ensure leadership is successfully transferred to the next generation?  Here are four steps to guide your process:

  • Start Early and Engage Widely – A company should always be thinking about what experience and skills their next leader will need. The company’s board and leadership team should be involved in the process to get everyone’s input, participation and eventual buy in, not just human resources and the current leader. This ideal leader profile should be revisited periodically, as the company’s needs and strategy can change, which can impact the requirements of the next generation of leadership.
  • Take a Look Inside – After you’ve determined what your ideal candidate looks like, compare their list of qualities with your internal team. It’s often helpful to have an outside talent management firm help with this process so that internal politics and favoritism doesn’t poison the process.  Beyond just identifying the next leader, whether they end up being an internal or external candidate, this process also helps an organization understand their overall talent bench.
  • Identify and Onboard the New Leader – If you opt to look outside your organization, work with an executive search firm who has a strong understanding of your company culture and has the right connections to passive candidates. Often times, the right candidate isn’t necessarily “looking” for a new job. As you onboard the new leader, keep in mind that younger candidates look beyond just compensation and title when deciding what company they want to work for and are often interested in a company’s culture and non-traditional benefits, such as development opportunities and flexible work arrangements.
  • Make Time for Vision and Knowledge Transfer – Many companies make the mistake of simply hiring the new leader and stopping the process there. Even great candidates need support and the benefit of learning about the company’s history and vision.  From a great leadership team to mentors and executive coaching, make sure you set your new leader up for success and provide them with support.  If the opportunity and environment is right to overlap the retiring leader and new leader, the opportunity for knowledge transfer can be invaluable.

Like any large investment, a successful transfer of leadership requires thorough planning, knowledge and time.  At KMR Executive Search we specialize in finding top talent and providing management consulting services to make sure you build your dream team.