Someday, Someone Will Replace You

Have you thought about who will be filling your shoes in the future?  Maybe you’re early in your career, maybe you’re approaching retirement, or maybe you’re somewhere in between.  For better or for worse, your time in your current position is limited.

So, what are you doing to create a legacy of well-developed individuals that can rise to the occasion of your progression or departure without causing heart failure for yourself, your partners or, worst of all, your clients?  Most people “don’t want to think about it” because it’s not easy to imagine someone being as great as you at your job.  If you want to leave your clients with a great successor, instead of a great headache, check out these ideas.

Here are five easy ways to develop great talent:

1. Focus on their strengths.  

Stop the weakness improvement obsession.  Don’t ignore weak spots, but be sure that your focus is on what your team members do well, and how you can get them to do more of what they do well. Your team members, leaders and clients will all love you for it.

2. Set and monitor a small number of goals you actually care about.

Setting written goals together focuses your efforts and resources where they matter most and with great results.  Think back to the last time that you planned to do something but didn’t really set a goal.  How’d that go for you?  Reach for the stars with your team members and watch them rise to the occasion.

3. Be a sponsor. 

If you have a team member (or a few) that you really want to replace you because they’re that awesome, be sure to seek out additional development opportunities for them.  Is there a special project they can get on with your help? Experience working with more diverse teams/groups/clients? Put their hat in the ring and get them moving and shaking.

4. Ask them how you’re measuring up in helping with their career development.   

Any great relationship goes two ways. Seeking feedback, genuinely, opens your relationship to a new level and will motivate your team members to do even more to excel.  Beware: anyone who repeatedly says “nothing, you’re doing great” doesn’t trust you enough to tell you the truth. No one’s that perfect, and it’s your job to build that trust.

5. Share successes publicly.

This isn’t meant to brag and demonstrate one-up-man ship, but instead to highlight the achievements of team members doing great things.  A poll found that 65% of employees received *NO* recognition in the workplace in the last year [1].  That’s a pretty low bar right there, so step out today and make an impact by giving recognition where it’s due.

The even better part about investing in development today instead of once you’re really on your way out: your team can make your life even easier now by taking on more challenging work and giving you more time to cross off the next thing on your to do list.


[1] Rath, T., and Clifton, D. How Full is Your Bucket? Gallup Press. 2004.