“Involving external well-wishers will bring both objectivity and neutrality”

Ajay Shriram, chairman, DCM Shriram on five ways to ensure effective succession planning

Published 4 years ago on Jan 22, 2020 1 minute Read

Build trust: This is the starting point, and trust is built with constant communication based on equality, frankness and by setting an example. It will ensure values are maintained and grievances are addressed. Some guiding principles, too, need to be followed such as creating a family constitution, defining common expenses, ownership pattern, and so on.

Play together, stay together: Family composition is not a constant. Spouses will be added, children will grow, and seniors will retire. Equations will need to be built at each stage; and what better way to do that, than by taking vacations together, meeting outside the workplace to pursue hobbies, and so on. This will initially serve as icebreakers and then build strong family bonds.

Give freedom to Gen Next: This can be a challenging task, particularly if seniors have had a successful track record. Yet it has to be done through empowerment, encouragement, willingness to accept mistakes, and above all acknowledging that the next generation will have ideas that may be unconventional and different. 

Involve trusted well-wishers: External well-wishers bring both objectivity and neutrality. They should be brought in after buy-in from all family members. Their role could range from advisory to administrative-matters, and if need be, as a sounding board. 

Operate as trustees: Family members must take pride in what has been built by earlier generations and then take ownership for enhancing its prestige. Eventually they have to take responsibility for building and passing on to each successive generation an organisation they can be justifiably proud of.