SUCCESSion Planning for Construction Leaders

Story by Gemma Beasley / August 30, 2023

The threat of being replaced can fill even the most seasoned leaders with dread and self-doubt. As new talent arrives, it’s only natural to feel your job security slipping. Will I become obsolete? Are they ushering me out?

Though it’s easy to feel anxious about being outpaced by the next generation, emerging talent needn’t be seen as a threat. Especially when you’re planning for retirement. In fact, developing your successor presents a unique opportunity to leave your legacy.

With thoughtful mentorship, you can ensure a smooth transition that benefits your protégé, your team, and even your future. As Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle can vouch for – there’s no greater chance to cement your wisdom and experience than by passing on the torch.

The Gift of Knowledge Transfer

Mark has overseen construction projects for a real estate developer for over 20 years. As he thinks about his looming retirement, he decides to be intentional about coaching someone to fill his shoes. 

By generously imparting his seasoned knowledge, Mark aims to set up potential successors and the organization for future success. Rather than hoarding expertise until it’s gone forever, succession planning is the ultimate way to pay it forward and reap those “warm feeling” rewards. 

Transferring institutional knowledge benefits everyone, but especially the person in the driver’s seat. By thoughtfully developing your successor, you get to play an active part in shaping the next generation of talent. How cool is that?

The Rewards of Mentorship

Guiding the career growth of a junior employee or newly promoted manager provides many intrinsic rewards. By teaching others the ropes, you gain satisfaction in supporting their professional journeys. Not only does mentoring build leadership skills like coaching, goal setting, and giving constructive feedback – it can also ease your workload over time.

By investing in the mentoring process, you can develop fresh perspectives and new approaches. This helps you stay attentive to emerging industry trends and best practices, ensuring your own skills don’t become outdated.

For the protégé, the benefits are clear. Learning from an experienced leader accelerates their growth. They gain expanded responsibilities, visibility to executives, and a competitive edge for advancement.

Tips for Being an Effective Mentor

Mentoring someone to eventually step into your shoes is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are some best practices for nurturing your successor:

  1. Share experiences – Storytelling is a powerful teaching tool. Discuss your own career path, including lessons learned from failures and triumphs along the way.
  2. Provide stretch assignments – Growth happens outside one’s comfort zone. Provide projects that build critical skills but also test their development areas.
  3. Give feedback – Regularly discuss their performance and growth areas. Provide specific, constructive suggestions to help them improve.
  4. Advocate for visibility – Use your influence to connect them with key leaders and assignments. Help get their name on the radar for future opportunities.
  5. Be patient – Leadership takes time to develop. Stick with them through setbacks and development plateaus. Show you’re invested in their long-term success.

Choosing a Successor

Not everyone you mentor will one day take over your exact role. This much is made clear by tracking the pace of change in business over time. So instead of looking for a carbon copy, it pays to seek protégés with:

  • Solid baseline skills with room to grow. Deep expertise isn’t required but the ability to learn is.
  • Initiative and drive. Energized by challenging projects.
  • Curious and eager to soak up your knowledge. Asks thoughtful questions.
  • Resilience and adaptability. Able to roll with changes and overcome obstacles.
  • Aligned with your values and those of the company. 

Plan for a Smooth Transition

Rather than reactively filling an empty role when you leave, thoughtful succession planning gives everyone involved more stability. It gives your company time to adequately prepare the next cohort, whether that’s an internal promotion or external new recruit.

If you’ve not already done so, it pays to have candid conversations with trusted colleagues about your intentions to retire or move on within a certain timeframe. Mutual understanding enables you all to align your expectations and gather the resources to develop your replacement.

When executed successfully, mentoring your protégé to step into your shoes can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your career. You get to shape the future of your role while leaving a lasting mark on both your company and someone’s career trajectory.

Building a Legacy

Far from being a threat, emerging talent represents an ideal opportunity to pay forward the guidance you received and actively lift up tomorrow’s leaders. We’ve even been asked to recruit potential replacements for our Leadership clients, long before they plan to leave. 
By putting your successors in the best possible position to succeed, you get to see your legacy soar. Need help getting off the ground? Feel free to get in touch.


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