4 min read

Succession Planning

Today's doodle is my longest one ever. For those of you looking on a phone and who will have to scroll for a while... sorry not sorry. And if you're coming here for the first time, subscribing is free – ad free, personal tracking free, everything free. I have a job that gives me the time to do this out of love.

Anyway, one of the things I get asked about from my clients at Hopara is about succession planning, and how to build an organization that survives changes. This always strikes me as weird, because I don't think I'm all that good at this topic. In fact, I think most management training and succession planning is total crap. I'm hard pressed to think of something else that every company I've ever been with, including ones I've run, has been worse at.

When I started my career, I thought my bosses, who were all of two years older than me, must have some special reason that they got promoted and had me working for them. It took all of five minutes to figure out that wasn't true, and that they were promoted as a reward for surviving; part of that reward was having a minion like me to do their bidding.

I eventually got promoted, and got no training, either. So I just gave the people who worked for me the work I didn't want to do, told them that they did a bad job, and perpetuated the cycle... until that firm imploded.

I kept getting promoted, and I kept not being trained. Eventually, I figured some stuff out – I knew that I wanted to be the kind of boss that could actually do the work I asked others to do, because I thought that would engender respect. So I got good at almost everything my companies did, which led to more promotions.

It turns out that being a boss has almost nothing to do with being good at what the people who work for you do, though. I had a boss who was just total crap at my job. If I had left, they would have needed to hire someone instantly. I don't think he could have covered me for even a day.

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