Current State, Future State, Interim State
As a business evolves and grows, the roles and expectations of managers, including owners, begins to shift. However, in many cases, this simply happens by default, with little or no discussion. Problems can arise when expectations differ and when people don’t perform in a way that is consistent with expectations.
I recently visited a company where ‘Dad’ had promised to begin to step away from his previous management position so that ‘Junior’ could take over and be seen by others in the company as a stronger leader. However, this wasn’t happening. Dad was still acting the same way that he always did – solving problems and being the go-to guy for making decisions. Junior was very frustrated.
I believe this sometimes occurs because managers can’t always envision their new management roles clearly and they don’t understand the shift that they need to make. So, instead, they revert to their same, old behaviors.
When I am working with my clients on the development of an effective succession plan, I like to help them to fully understand how to get from point A – where they are today, to point B – where they want to be in the future. But, I know that asking anyone to make this shift immediately will be too much. It is just too drastic a change. So, my fellow managers, here is the process that I recommend:
In most cases, we can describe our current role and have some ideas about what our future role might look like – but it is the interim stages that often cause confusion and miscommunication. Let’s plan a more gradual shift so that we can get used to making minor changes in our behavior, slowly building toward the development of a whole new role.
Look at this as an opportunity to clearly articulate the future and the important steps to get there.
First, develop an outline of your current role, including the results you are responsible for and who reports to you. Discuss this with your management team and use this as an opportunity to gain greater clarity regarding your position and theirs. Just having this simple conversation can clear up a lot of grey areas.
Next, work with your team to develop your future status. Once you have fully transitioned into your new role (even if this is full-on retirement), what will it look like? If it’s transition into another type of active role, will you have the same responsibilities as the current position holder or do you see the role changing? Will you be expected to produce the same type of results that have been produced in the past, or will these change according to your company’s strategic plan?
Finally, work with your team to develop the interim state. In most organizations there is a transition period that can feel a little shaky – and it often breeds confusion and conflict. This is a good opportunity to break open this conversation and talk about how you will begin to change your role, how quickly you will be taking on new tasks and what tasks you will be giving up as others transition into your old role. You may also want to talk about how you will mentor or coach others, and how you will be empowering those who will take over some of your previous responsibilities.
|1. Current State →||3. Interim State →||2. Future State|
|FIRST, create outline of what you are currently doing – often a good opportunity to clarify your current role and manage expectations more effectively.||You will fill this section in LAST – after you have clarified your current and future roles with your management team members.||You will fill this section out SECOND – with the help of the person that is currently in that role – or, in the case of your own exit from the business, according to your vision of the future.|
As is often the case, the most important aspect of managing expectations, is to have a real conversation. Talk about the issues in a way that takes the emotion out of the discussion. Look at this as an opportunity to clearly articulate the future and the important steps to get there. Once you have an agreement as to what the role will be, you can list the key tasks and decisions to be made.