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Succession planning: easy to say, tough to do

“If you don’t have a successor, you are very poor indeed.”

1. Succession planning is a tough call in Uganda, as it is elsewhere

2. Even multinationals, they prefer to bring in a CEO from another country instead of promoting the local staff. Why? Nurturing talent requires two things: first, loyalty and second, trust. Without the two, few business owners and or CEOs are ready to invest in anyone however competent (skilled and experienced) they may be!

3. In addition to a strategy and a strong internal culture for empowering staff, succession planning thrives on integrity and good morals.

4. Where do you find a person of integrity, whom you can trust with the business secrets? For SMEs, majority of which are family owned, this is a tough call. You invest training someone, once they are ready to climb; they get grabbed by the competitor. They have just been exposed to all trade secrets, business models and key contacts preparing them for the high role. The competitor has not invested in them, is therefore willing to pay higher salary, which the company that has been preparing them is not willing to as they would want to first ‘recover’ their investment. So, they lose the person. You see why loyalty is key!

5. Most middle and high class families have challenges parenting and therefore creating successors. Few rich families have done well at empowering children to carry the mantle past their parents.

6. The truth is, anyone can be your successor – family or not.

7. First, establish strong governance structures. In the next issue, we focus on governance. How do you establish systems ready to identify the best, and have them get to the top.

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