I am always amazed by how many leaders I speak to who don’t have a plan (or even consider the need for a plan) to replace themselves. It makes sense that if you want to advance your own career, it’s easier to do so when you have someone ready to take your place. In principle, I think everyone can agree, yet, many people still aren’t doing it—and why not?
In my experience, there have been many factors that prevent a manager from investing in and openly discussing their own successor. One reason is that you may feel threatened that the person will want to take over your role too quickly, before you’re ready. Another reason could be that you don’t know when your own opportunity for advancement will arise and you don’t want the person in line to get frustrated waiting. Sometimes, it’s truly just a matter of being too busy. Whatever the reason why you aren’t doing it, here are some reasons why you ought to be.
1. Higher engagement and performance.
When you take an active interest in someone’s career, amazing things happen. That person becomes increasingly motivated and inspired. The simple act of telling someone they have potential can immediately boost engagement and performance. If you want to keep those levels high, remember that regular discussions and updates on their career progression are required.
2. Assistance in moving goals forward.
With so many organizations balancing day to day priorities with strategic initiatives, having people on your team to help drive your goals forward is a definite advantage. You now have someone to share responsibility with in a very meaningful way. They get to grow and develop their skills and competencies and priorities progress more quickly.
3. Personal participation in more interesting projects.
When you’re able to share the responsibility with a trusted member of your team, it means more time for you to invest in yourself by in-turn taking part in projects that interest and develop you. If you can learn and grow through action, you’re not only leading by example, you're actively getting ready for your next career step.
4. Increased loyalty and trust.
By investing in someone, you’re sending a pretty clear message that you are loyal to them, you care about their growth and, that you trust them to do more. In turn, count on their increased loyalty and trust back.
5. Ease of transition into a new role.
When you have developed someone over a period of time, their transition into a new role is going to be easier. That means your transition into your own new role will be as well. With limited questions and less follow-up, you can fully concentrate on moving forward and you can look back with pride.