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Succession Planning Process: Execution & Accountability

Mar 5, 2020

Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss the fourth step in the process for succession planning, Execution & Accountability.


Tim Schuster:Welcome to our podcast for Generations in Family Business, Past, Present and Future. Our host for this podcast are myself, Tim Schuster, and I'm a senior manager in the Center for Family Business Excellence. And along with me, as always, is my good friend.

Matt Kerzner:Hey, good afternoon, Tim. This is Matt Kerzner. I'm a director in the Center.

TS: Hey Matt, it's great to see you, as always.
MK: Always a pleasure, Tim.
TS:So just as a reminder to our guests, our last podcast we discussed the growth in value enhancement, and we're taking our listeners through the process that we, at the Center for Family Business Excellence, take our businesses through for succession planning. Our topic of conversation today is actually going to be on execution and accountability.
TS:So Matt, if you wouldn't mind, can you just give our listeners a high level synopsis of what you would go through for execution and accountability?
MK:I would love to, Tim. But before I do that, let's just refresh the listeners about the process.
TS:Sure, please.
MK:At the Center, we follow a six-step process for succession planning, when we help bring families or partners through a succession planning process. And we already did some podcasts on the transition and exit strategy. We did one on governance, making sure your family, your business, the ownership, are in alignment, and really putting some of that together. We talked about how do you grow your business or getting it ready, for either that transition or succession, from one generation to the next. But sometimes, succession could be a liquidity event.
TS:Could be, exactly.
MK:So it's really, how do you grow your business, and we talked a little bit about that last time. And you're right, today we're going to talk about execution and accountability. Then after this, we'll have a podcast on leadership development down the road, and then we'll get into the actual execution of succession.
MK:Right, succession. So today, we're going to talk about that execution and accountability. And this one is, building a culture that holds yourself, the owner, or your family, or your leadership team, ready. And having them really take a good look at how do they hold themselves accountable. How do you manage performance, review the progress, remove any barriers or roadblocks that are going to get in the way.

You want to make it easy. You want to make sure that you have this, what I call, this churn key operation. And in order to do that, you have to have a solid foundation. You have to have good standard operating procedures. All your processes have to be written down and memorialized. You have to remember, it's something when you leave, all that information leaves with you.
TS:Exactly. And I think that's actually a really good point, Matt. You know a lot of instances where I'm meeting with clients and you're meeting with clients, they don't have that. So is there a process or something that a client can go through, in order to start, like what would you advise a client to say, "Hey, I want you to memorialize what you do." How would you take them through that? Because a lot of people have some procrastination issues with it, but I'd be curious what your steps would-
MK:Yeah, it's actually a simple process. And when I did my research on succession planning and interviewing a bunch of CEOs, I don't like calling it best practices, I call them practices. And one of the major things that came out of it was, understanding past, your historical information, looking at all your archival data that you already have. You don't need to recreate the wheel. You just have to have, look at what was the past, what made you successful.

Then you take a look at your current state, what are the practices and processes that you're doing. And then to really help understand what the future looks like, what is the future state?

So it's really, I don't want to make it complicated. It's really sitting down with the clients and outlining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that they've experienced in the past, what lessons did they learn. And then what are they doing current state, and then what is their desired future state. And the desired future state could be, what do they already have in manuals, procedures, et cetera, that are in their head that just need to be written down. That's number one. And then you look at the gaps of what they don't have, that they need to produce.

This could be as simple as org charts. This could be, again, we already said SOP, standard operating procedures. Every position that's on an org chart should have standard operating procedures, job descriptions, a job analysis. Again, sounds like a lot, but once you start talking it, they live this every day. It's just memorializing it.
TS:That makes sense. And I agree with you on that. So there's instances where I've met with clients where we were talking about succession with them, and it's like, you have people in these positions for 20 something plus years, and the question is, "Hey, when was the last time your job description was updated?" And the common answer is, "Oh, when the person first started." And I was like, "Well, do you think that their position has changed, from when they started to now," which could have been 20 years ago. And the common answer is, "Yes."

So especially having the groundwork laid out, or someone who hasn't been there yet, it's a great time and opportunity to start doing that. Now one thing that I think is important for businesses to know is, when should someone start with this process? So we're at step four now with execution and accountability, but when should someone, or a business, hopefully have a green light that say, "Hey, I should really start this." I have a number in my head. But I have a feeling it's going be same as you, but I'd be curious about that.
MK:Every business is different. I always say, businesses are like a snowflake. However, I love getting phone calls from family-owned businesses or partnerships that say, "Listen, I'm thinking about five years from now. I'm thinking about seven years from now. And I really got to start looking at this."

That's wonderful. There's plenty of time to see, okay, how do you grow the business, what operation efficiencies you got to bring in. We're going to get into leadership and development in a different podcast-
MK:Talking about your bench strength. So the earlier, the better, because you want to take a look at your next generation of family members, or key employees that might need some development to take over. Or if you have to, bring in a non-family member from the outside to come run your business, you want to have some time of overlap, make sure it's right culturally fit for everybody. Do you need to set up a board, an advisory board, or a fiduciary board, so you could go enjoy, but still be connected. So the earlier, the better, Tim.
TS:That's perfect.
MK:Now does that mean that we get the phone call and someone says, "Okay, six months, a year?" Sure, we could. But again, that means there's a heavy lift, where if you have more time, it actually could be transparent.
TS:The longer the runway, the most likely you're going to fly, right?
TS:That's perfect. So let's bring this all back, We talk about it in a prior podcast, our strategic roadmap. So let's bring back the process. So how does execution and accountability go fit in with the strategic roadmap?
MK:Great, great question. So really the strategic roadmap, as refreshing our listeners is, this is where you look at your mission, vision and values. You have your organizational goals. This could be one year, three year, five year type of plan. And then the three major buckets. You got growing the business, you got operation efficiency, and then you have people development. So how this all fits in together is really taking a look at, do you have that stuff? That's number one. If you don't, we got to start.
MK:You've got to make sure all your employees are rowing in the same direction. There's a lot of resistance from owners, partners, to let go, or even think about succession, because everything is residing in their brains.
TS:Makes sense.
MK:So until they start putting it down, and getting everybody rowing in the same direction, they're going to have that resistance. Once they feel comfortable that their family members are in lined, that their key advisors, their key employees are in lined, that they have a successor named, and I'm not just talking about in their positions, I'm talking at all different levels of the organization. Then it's going to go smoothly. So succession planning is really built into that strategic roadmap.
TS:That makes sense to me. Hey, Matt, thank you so much for being with us today. And thank you for listening to Generations in Family Business, Past, Present, and Future, as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series.

If you have any questions, or there's a topic you'd like us to cover, email us at Visit for more information on this, and a host of other topics. We look forward to have you listen in in our next EisnerAmper podcast.

More in this Series

Succession Planning Process: Roadmap to Successful Succession

Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss the six steps the Center for Family Business Excellence takes a client through regarding succession planning.

Succession Planning Process: Transition & Exit Strategy

In this episode we discuss the first step in the process for succession planning, the Transition/Exit Strategy.

Succession Planning Process: Governance

In this episode we discuss the second step in the process for succession planning, Governance.

Succession Planning Process: Growth and Values

Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss the third step in the process for succession planning, Growth and Values.

Succession Planning Process: Leadership & Development

Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss leadership and development in the process for succession planning.

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Timothy Schuster

Mr. Schuster is a Senior Manager providing tax compliance services to individual filers, as well as assistance on tax returns for companies in the manufacturing and real estate industries.

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