When you enter a new management or leadership role there are many challenges that you must take on. One of the most overlooked activities that should be done from day one is to find your replacement. It takes a really confident leader to be able to start and finish this process, and many people in leadership and management roles often won’t do this, until it is too late. As a leader or manager you owe it to yourself, the organization and your staff to start mentoring, coaching and developing someone to take your place.
From a personal standpoint, opportunities can come up when you least expect them. If you have trained a replacement you will be able to move more quickly should those opportunities arise. If you don’t have a replacement identified, trained and ready to go, you could be viewed as irreplaceable and may be passed up for that opportunity or it could prolong your transition.
From an organization perspective, you have committed to leading a particular area and part of leading that group is ensuring that someone can easily fill in if you are unable to be there for short or long term stretches. This could be a rudimentary as vacations all the way through your next promotion.
The primary and often most overlooked role you play as a leader is coaching and developing your staff. You are not only coaching and developing them in their current role but also helping them to get to the next level. This isn’t trivial or fluffy. Mentoring and moving upwards is one of the most motivating factors that your staff will look to you for. Demonstrating to your staff that their advancement is a line item on your plan will cause them to be more willing to jump on board in helping you achieve your goals.
If you have manager reporting to you, a question that should always be asked of them during performance reviews is “who is your replacement”? Asking this question can break the tension, allow you to coach them into understanding why this is important and to help them stop viewing it as a threat. It will also give you an understanding of how much they value business continuity, team building/mentoring and their own future growth. However, don’t ask them that question if you haven’t been building your own replacement that would make you a hypocrite!
If you don’t already have someone identified or haven’t been working on finding your replacement, today is a great day to start.
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