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Don, Succession Planning & Check-ins

Updated: May 28

Don has a friend who understands succession planning and is guiding him in twelve conversations with his team over the next year. The first three conversations have identified the impact they want to continue, the values that have brought the business success, and how to move toward them (read here).

Conversation four involves how to build trust among the leadership team members and advisors.

In a sports relay team, team members need to trust one another to perform at their best and win the race. The same is true for a business leadership team, where trust is essential for the team to function effectively and achieve its goals.

Don’s team dreams of what a workplace culture with high trust would look like. They imagine a workplace where employees feel valued, heard, and appreciated. Where they trust their managers and colleagues to support them in their personal and professional development.

One of the team members describes a friend, Meagan, who takes over her father’s 100-year-old, billion-dollar business with 3,000 employees. She builds trust on her team by having regular check-ins with her direct reports every Monday morning. The check-ins are simple conversations that show her direct reports that she cares about them and their team’s well-being and progress. The brief sessions focus on the business but also allow her people to share what issues outside the business might affect their performance.

When she takes the time to check in with her people regularly, they feel she cares about their well-being and is interested in hearing about their work. The short meetings boost morale by giving her employees a chance to share what’s going well and receive recognition for their accomplishments. This positive reinforcement motivates them to keep up the good work and to feel proud of their achievements.

Her regular check-ins also aid communication by providing a space for open dialogue between her direct reports. Her team members share concerns or ideas with her without feeling like they are being judged or criticized.

Meagan is clear to communicate that if there is any unresolved conflict on their team, then the only work for the day is to resolve it. She sees unresolved conflict as contagious. She believes that the organization and her customers deserve their unity.

Don’s team loves the idea of doing regular Monday morning check-ins. They decide they will start the next week! They brainstorm good questions to use in their check-ins. They include:

What is the best thing that has happened in your life last week?

What is the burning issue in your life right now?

What action are you going to take?

Is there any unresolved conflict that needs to be resolved?

In addition to the weekly check-in questions, Don will have conversation four with the executive leadership team. Some questions they will ponder are:

Who are the advisors that the CEO and the leadership team trust?

Is the topic of succession planning permissible with these advisors? The board? Between CEO and prospective successors?

Is this conversation encouraged?

Is there a succession plan shared by the CEO with the Board and leadership team annually?

Are revisions made and shared as progress takes place?

When the people on your team can be real, truthful, and genuine, it fosters trust.

You are the one to build this team. Just do it!

Harry T. Jones

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