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Succession planning: how to succeed like the Queen

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Succession planning is vital to any business seeking to expand or maintain its market presence. It helps to ensure continuity across decades and provides a solid base upon which a company can expand and grow. There is potentially no better example of successful succession planning than that of our own royal family.

Strong candidates waiting in the wings

When Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson, his brother Albert had to take the throne at short notice, only for Albert himself to die little over a decade later due to lung cancer. Such a rapid turnover of senior figures in such a short period of time could have led to turmoil, but the royal family weathered the storm and came out the other side. From this, businesses can learn the importance of planning for the worst eventualities by looking to the future and having promising young staff members ready to take over in key roles. By doing so, a business can ensure that periods of uncertainty do not undermine long-term stability.

Clear hierarchy

Arguably, however, one of the most important aspects of the royal family’s succession plan is one that doesn’t require a history lesson – it’s clarity. Everyone knows where the members of the royal family stand in line to the throne; Prince Charles first, then Prince William and so on. This clearly translates to the world of business. A good succession plan should be clearly understandable, so that each employee knows where they stand within the company. This in turn may help the company when it comes to retaining talent, for instance, a promising young employee will be able to see their career progression clearly mapped out from the succession plan, potentially motivating them to stay.

Personal life

Don’t forget that your personal life and business life can cross over. You need to consider who is going to inherit your wealth or your family business and how you can protect this from being dissipated sideways in the event, for instance, of a divorce amongst the more junior members of the family or family firm.

A good ‘succession document’, for example a will, is of paramount importance.

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