Seamless Leadership Transitions: A Six-Step Roadmap | Ep. 225

COGE A Six-Step Roadmap | Leadership Transitions


Change is constant in this world. In business, a change in leadership can greatly affect the business. How will you handle it if there’s a need to make some changes? In this episode, Eric Anderton, the author of Construction Genius, dives into a comprehensive six-step roadmap for a seamless leadership transition. He also identifies the keys to effectively navigating leadership transitions. Eric highlights that in executing successful transitions, you must elevate people and establish them well in that new role. If you want your construction business to thrive during these changing times, tune in to this episode today!

Interested in learning more about executive coaching with Eric? Book a time to chat with him here:

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Seamless Leadership Transitions: A Six-Step Roadmap

In this episode, we’re going to be discussing the critical topic of leadership transitions. As the president of your construction company, you may be at a point in your business where you’re thinking of promoting someone to a senior leadership role. That senior leader is going to be taking things off your plate. As a result of that, the dynamic of relationships within your organization is going to change. What we’re going to cover in this episode is the challenges and potential hurt feelings that may arise when you promote a senior project manager into a division manager role, particularly the concerns of former direct reports who may lose direct access to you as the president of your company.

I’ll dive into a comprehensive six-step plan that’s designed to ensure a smooth transition, maintain strong relationships and then provide the necessary support for the new division manager’s success. Finally, we will be talking throughout the episode about the keys to navigating leadership transitions effectively with a focus on open communication, patience and empathy with both the person who’s getting promoted and the people who are reporting to that individual. The whole idea is to help your construction business thrive during times of change. You’re going to enjoy this episode here. Give me any feedback that you like from the session. I appreciate you reading.

Some time ago, I was having a chat with one of my clients, the president of a subcontracting company. It’s very successful and well-run. He was thinking, “How can I transition the company from me and my ownership to the next generation?” There are a lot of moving parts here going on but one of the key things that he was focusing on was the promotion of a senior project manager to a division manager.

What was most interesting about this promotion is that in putting this person in the division manager role, reporting lines would then shift. The President had a whole group of people reporting to him directly. He had developed relationships with them. Those relationships are very strong. This new shift was an essential part of the transition and the growth of the company. These people would be reporting to the division manager.

The question came up in our conversation. How could he best manage this transition? Think about why that’s important. Number one, you have to establish the new division manager in his new role but you also have to deal with the fact that the people who previously reported to the president are going to be reporting to this division manager. There may be some hurt feelings. There may be some sense of losing access to the president. All of that has to be managed very well.

Another thing that has to be managed and you have to keep this in mind is that if they’re used to coming to you as the president of the company and they have a new direct report, they may still be doing an end-around to you and not going to the division manager. You might be allowing that consciously or not but the whole point is that if you’re going to execute successful transitions, you have to be able to elevate people into new roles and then establish them well in that new role.

If you execute successful transitions, you must elevate people, and establish them well in that new role. Share on X

Let’s talk about how you can do that. Number one, you need to announce the promotion. A bad way to do that is to send out an email. Fred is the division manager. You are all reporting to him. That is not the way to do it. If you’re thinking about doing it that way, you’re missing the boat. What you need to do is gather the team for a candid discussion and share the reasons for the promotion of the person from a senior project manager to a division manager.

Talk to them openly about the transition that the company is going through so that they have an understanding of the logic behind the decision. Express your confidence in the new division manager. Understand that people are looking to you. In their minds, they think that your company is a reflection of you and it’s true for better or worse. You must express your confidence in this new division manager.

The second thing you want to do is set up personal transition meetings with the division manager and each one of their new direct reports with you in that meeting. Let’s say the division manager has four people reporting to him that previously reported to you. Set up four separate meetings. In those meetings, what you want to be able to do is address any concerns that the direct report has with the new reporting structure of the company. Set clear expectations for communication and give them practical examples.

For instance, if you’re talking to a project manager who used to report to you and who’s going to report to the division manager, make sure that they understand that if there’s an issue on a project, there’s a change order that needs to be handled, there’s a customer issue or there’s an issue with a superintendent, they are going to go to the new division manager to discuss that issue. It’s not because you don’t care but it’s because of the transition the company is going through and the way that you have decided to take the company. This new reporting structure needs to take place.

Acknowledge the fact that you understand that this person who maybe has been reporting to you for the last ten years is going to have a new direct report. Their feelings may be hurt. They may be wondering, “Is my access going to be cut off? Will my voice still be heard?” Acknowledge that in that meeting and assure them that through this new reporting structure, they will still be able to have their concerns voiced, you’re not going anywhere and you will still have a relationship.

Let me go to that for a moment here. In reassuring your former direct reports, you want to emphasize their continued value to the company. The way that you can do this practically is by casually going around and checking in with them from time to time. You may already do this but you want to keep the lifeblood of that personal relationship there because if they feel that you’re continuing to invest in that and they see you as the head of the company, it’s going to help to lock in their commitment to your organization.

Practice a little bit of leadership by walking around and making sure that you are touching your former direct reports on a semi-regular basis but as you’re doing that, be aware that sometimes they may bring up issues. Keep in mind the reporting structure that you’ve already established with their new boss or the new division manager and gently point them that way.

COGE A Six-Step Roadmap | Leadership Transitions
Construction Genius: Effective, Hands-On, Practical, Simple, No BS Leadership, Strategy, Sales, and Marketing Advice for Construction Companies

Thank you for reading. Here’s a quick break to remind you about my book, Construction Genius: Effective, Hands-On, Practical, Simple, No BS Leadership, Strategy, Sales and Marketing Advice for Construction Companies. I’m encouraged by the response to this book. We’re getting five-star reviews on Amazon. The reason why is that you pick up this book and read it and you can immediately take away action items that are going to help you to be a better leader, succeed as far as strategy is concerned and also sell more work to the right clients with the right projects in the right locations.

I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty sweet. This is my offer to you. It’s a special offer. If you purchase ten or more copies of this book, shoot me an email at [email protected] with the receipt. What I will do is offer to come into your organization via Zoom and do a free 30 to 60-minute call with your leadership team about the contents of the book, answer any questions that they have and then in addition to that, give you a little bit of training on how someone can be successful in a new role.

It’s information that’s not directly in this book. If you would like to do that, go out, purchase ten or more copies of Construction Genius and send me the book receipt and we will get that scheduled. Email me at [email protected] and put in the subject line, “Ten Copies of Construction Genius.” Go out to Amazon and grab your copies. Let’s get back to the show.

Another thing you want to do when you promote this new division manager is to spend time mentoring them because they’re going to be entering into new relationships with people who haven’t reported to them before. It takes time to build those relationships. Their style is probably different than your style. That’s going to be a bit of a shock to your former direct reports.

Perhaps you can give the division manager some insights into how your direct reports function and some of their strengths and weaknesses but you need to make sure that you’re mentoring them. In my opinion, when you promote this person to the division manager role if you’re not already meeting weekly with them, you must do that. If you’re not, you’re dropping the ball as far as that’s concerned. You want to help them to adapt to that new role as quickly as possible.

Let me give you a little more insight in terms of maintaining camaraderie. What I would do if I were you if you’re not doing this already is set up regular social events. When I say regular, I’m going to say, “Why don’t you do it every six months at a minimum?” It’s a social event with the team where you can break bread with your former direct reports and the division manager. Maybe you take them out to lunch. Maybe you got to Topgolf or something like that where you can break bread.

What I would do is set up a social situation where you can see your former direct reports interacting in a casual manner with the new division manager. That will give you some excellent data on the strength of their relationship but it will also give you an opportunity to stay in touch with your former direct reports and make sure that they understand that they’re still a value to the company. What I would do is schedule a follow-up meeting with each one of your former direct reports, the division manager to whom they report and yourself after about 6 or 9 months to check in with them.

In giving you these recommendations, I’m assuming that you are focusing on developing strong relationships with the division manager. You have a relationship with him and the direct reports where a frank discussion can happen in that one-on-one meeting. As you’re in that one-on-one meeting, pay attention to body language and subtle cues that tell you something about the strength of their relationship.

The numbers that they’re producing from their projects are going to tell you something about the strength of their relationship because construction is a relationship game. If there’s a radical change in the numbers, particularly toward the negative, that’s going to give you data that maybe there’s an issue with your former direct reports and their new boss, the division manager. Those follow-up meetings can be very helpful.

In conclusion, what you want to be able to do is make that announcement publicly, giving your logic behind it and your reasons and expressing your confidence in this new division manager. What you want to do is have those personal one-on-one meetings with your former direct report and the new division manager, explaining the transition and making sure that any issues or concerns are addressed.

What you want to be able to do is emphasize the continued value of your former direct report to the company. Make sure you’re mentoring the division manager. Make sure that you’re maintaining camaraderie with those social events. Schedule a follow-up meeting. Don’t forget to manage a bit and lead a bit by walking around and keeping in touch with those former direct reports.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a time-consuming thing because the reason you’re putting someone in this division manager role is to free up your time to work on higher-level tasks that relate to the transition of the organization but if you ever want to be able to build your company where you are not so much working in the business but working on the business, it’s essential that you manage these transitions well.

My recommendation is that you consider the steps that I’ve brought up and think about how you can implement them as you’re going through transitions in your organization. Remember, as you’re doing this, it’s not necessarily going to be easy. There are going to be bumps along the road. You may at some point promote someone into a role that they’re not a fit for. You might have to make changes. You may eventually alienate a former direct report in a way that you wish you hadn’t but that occurs as well.

Keep in mind your overall strategic goal. Keep in mind where you want to take the company. Think about the structure of the organization that you need to establish to achieve that goal. Make sure you have the right people in the right seats in your organization with appropriate reporting structures so that you can take your company where you want it to go.

Let me finish by saying this. The outline that I’m giving you here all took place in a conversation that I had one-on-one with the president of a construction company that is my client. I have these conversations all the time in a coaching environment. We’re going back and forth. We’re talking about his concerns and how we can best manage this transition. We developed much of the plan that I’m sharing with you here.

My point in saying that is that this is the type of conversation that can be tremendously beneficial to you. You may benefit from meeting one-on-one with an executive coach and having these types of conversations. Perhaps there’s a fit between you and me. As the president of a construction company, you need an outside sounding board to help you through these kinds of conversations.

You can book a time to chat with me for ten minutes to figure out if or how I can help. I’m not a fit for everyone. I want to say that. Some people are like, “I don’t think it’s a fit.” I’ll talk to people who reach out to me sometimes and say, “I don’t think I’m fit.” In those ten minutes though, we will be able to figure out pretty quickly together whether or not it’s worth scheduling another time to further discuss how I might be able to help in terms of executive coaching. Reach out to me if that is something that would be of interest to you. I appreciate your time here.


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