It is the most ordinary process in a company: the boss has led the operation to success, always taking care of everything and everyone in the company and eventually comes the time when the senior puts the business in the hands of his successor. Hardly any other process in the life cycle of a company is filled with more fears, fears and hopes. And often even the most professional boss is least prepared for this moment. When is the right time to think about the succession? How to choose the successor or successors? How do you carry out the transfer in such a way that the proven remains and the new ones have enough space to make their own ideas and ideas a reality? How will others react to the change? How can you shape the generational change in such a way that all parties benefit from it and the company looks at a good future under new leadership?
The legal and procedural questions of succession planning – however important they may be – are just one of many success factors. Experience teaches that in many cases other factors determine the success or failure of succession.
In this specific case, the new board of a medium-sized company turned to us. After the new board had been called and had begun its work, it came – at first occasionally, then with increasing regularity – to clashes between the new and the still acting for a transitional current board. The old board, with a healthy dose of skepticism, finally agreed with the suggestion of the new board about mediation.
In the mediation it could be worked out that the role of the supervisory board in the planning and realization of the generational change was anything but happy. Commitments had been broken from the perspective of the old board and thus turned a previously trusting cooperation, a power game. The anger then vented in the daily cooperation of the board. In the course of mediation we were able to bring order to things. The board agreed on rules for constructive cooperation and at the same time, the new board supported the senior in clarifying his issues with the supervisory board. This solidarity changed everything for the senior. Instead of continuing to treat them like allies of the board and thus as opponents, he could now count on their active support. In this way, an already anticipated legal dispute with incalculable consequences for the company could not only be averted, but constructive solutions were possible that were unimaginable even at the beginning of mediation. The senior was duly approved with a proper celebration, voluntarily terminated the transitional period prematurely, and worked constructively with the new board until the last day.
The new board was able to accomplish the generational change undamaged by the mediation. By reducing the transitional period by mutual agreement, the new Executive Board can now, in good time, initiate the necessary measures for a positive future for the company on its sole responsibility.