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Succession Planning: Scary but Necessary for Business Existence

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Brooklyn Esposito addresses why succession planning is necessary for your business and team, and how you can get started today.

Take a moment and decide, right now, who would you appoint to lead your fitness business if you could not return to your role as an owner tomorrow? Would it be an executive, partner, co-founder or silent investor? Or would it be the most tenured employee, no matter their job title? 

As fitness industry leaders, we love talking about leadership best practices. An essential, and often intentionally neglected piece of leadership best practices, however, is succession planning.

Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave, retire or die. Releasing the reins and entrusting someone other than ourselves to propel a company into its next chapter is scary – scary but necessary.

Employees, regardless of rank, rely on you – the employer – for more than a paycheck. The crucial component is professional growth, career opportunities and sense of purpose. By looking beyond job descriptions, management can up-skill workers with tasks normally tended by supervisors, thus creating a skills margin. This lessens the workload for managers during times of crisis or pile up.

Good leaders make selfless decisions daily, because at the end of the day, it is about the health of the business, the employees and the customer. Engaging in a succession plan is one of the most selfless acts to take on as a business owner. 

Additionally, consider every executive’s role, because life happens. Succession planning is not exclusive to HR but rather the company altogether. Managers, directors and those with direct reports see the day-to-day commitments from teammates. Therefore, they should speak fluently to employees’ core strengths, areas of improvement and interest to eventually move up. An “all hands-on deck” approach is taken for such projects.

Why should you care about succession planning now? 

Why not? Why not be better prepared for the next crisis your business faces? What is the disadvantage to alleviating senior leaders of some responsibilities so they can direct their focus towards a larger vision of where the company needs to propel itself towards?

We hold on to responsibilities with tight grip. This is part ego, part purpose. But understand that your purpose as a leader is to advance employees ensuring better business operations. 

How can you begin planning?

Identify employees with visionary potential and tactical expertise. Create shadowing opportunities and let people become curious about your role. As the expert of your role, you should share the knowledge and begin to up-skill direct reports.

CEO’s and owners – what future do you see for the business? Is it maintenance, growth, expansion and/or scaling?

Whatever the objective, acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Honestly self-reflect and ask who underneath you can help you improve in each area. Decide what your greatest contribution to the company is and focus more on it. Doing so creates a trickle-down effect of responsibilities throughout the chain of command.

Yes, succession planning is a project with a long timeline. But it provides new perspective.  And a new, fresh perspective leads to the innovation required by your business to secure longevity.

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Brooklyn Esposito

Brooklyn Esposito is the strategic relations coordinator for City Fitness. She oversees the Corporate Partnership Program.

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