Mentoring: The Key To Succession Planning

Succession planning is not as simple as handing the company to the next child in line. To insure that the family business successfully continues past the first generation it requires careful planning and intentional planning. One of the simpler tools available to any family is a strong mentoring program. Mentoring can help develop confidence, and provide the next generation with a sense of ownership and investment in the success of the business.  A major review done in 2018 looked at a number of studies comparing mentored and non-mentored people found that it positively affected protégés’ behavior, attitude, motivation, relationships and even physical health.

Done right, being a mentor means a lot more than merely “taking someone under your wing.” Mentoring is a serious and significant undertaking. It calls for careful thought, a systematic approach, long-term planning and a nontrivial commitment of time and energy. Not uncommonly, the mentor’s own reputation may ultimately be at stake, depending on how well the protégé turns out.

The key to a successful mentoring program is in the pairing. Making sure that the right mentor is paired with the right mentee can be challenging. In most cases you are looking to pair a more experienced employee with a younger, less experienced employee.  The first question may be whether the mentor should be a family member or a non-family member. The answer is, “yes.” That is to say, protégés get different and valuable benefits from non-family and family mentors. So take a look at having both.

A family member mentor can connect a protégé with family values, traditions and goals more effectively than the non-family member. A non-family member mentor’s perspective is invaluable for, among other things, helping the protégé grasp how their position within the business is privileged compared to non-family employees. Non-family mentors can help drive home the advantages of the protégé remaining active in the family business.

The mentor need not be an employee of your firm. He or she could be a former employee, family or non-family. Skilled mentors can also be found among the ranks of advisors, including professionals such as accountants, attorneys and family business consultants. These third-party mentors may bring a valuable perspective and breadth of experience to the mentoring effort. Don’t hesitate to cast your net wide when you are searching for a suitable mentor.

One surprising thing about mentoring is that it also helps the mentors. A meta-analysis of a number of studies of mentoring’s benefits for mentors found they tend to be more satisfied with their jobs and more committed to their organizations. They also perform better and have more successful careers.

This combination of benefits to the mentor, protégé and firm makes mentoring more than just a win-win. It’s a win-win-win. Every serious succession plan should at least consider the possibility of a mentoring component. There are few more effective and time-tested tools for ensuring the long-term success and survival of your family enterprise.

To learn more about how REGENERATION can help you put together an effective mentoring program for your succession plan, visit our website

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