Is it time for you to pick a tradesman to take over?
We’d all like to think that we’re irreplaceable, but that ethos doesn’t help with succession planning! Plus, if you’re running a busy trade company, you’ll need someone to help you carry the load so you can free up some of your time to work on the business and spend more time on what matters most.
We could all do with a number 2 that we can slot into our lives to take over from us when we are too busy or have other, more pressing tasks at hand. But if you’ve spent years growing your trade company from the ground up, how do you train another tradesman to do it all just like you would? Someone capable of doing what needs to be done so you can take a step back? We’d like to think we have all the answers!
How to create your clone
So, you have a team of well trained, skilled tradespeople. Next, it’s time to find that someone in your team who can step up and fill your shoes, at least some of the time. Here’s our tips on creating another you…
1. Identify the right tradesperson within your team1
- Not everyone is a leader and not everyone wants to lead. Doing an excellent job doesn’t necessarily mean that they can supervise others to do the same. Your second in command needs to be someone who can lead and motivate the rest of your trade team.
- Once you’ve identified a leader in your team, tell them that you think they’re leadership material. See what they think!
- Explain your plan to get them where they need to be, that it won’t happen overnight and that you’ll act as a mentor and coach through the process.
2. Choose a tradesperson you can trust and who shares your vision2
- Your second in command needs to be someone you can trust. So, build a personal relationship with them, it will help you build the level of trust and understanding needed to support your working relationship.
- Make sure you’re both on the same page! Explain your trade company’s long-term and medium-term goals and how their role fits into the company’s overall objectives to help them feel valued.
- Your new team leader or manager should be a major internal supporter for your company values, and purpose. It will help position them as a leader within the trade business while also making them more devoted to the role.
Next, you’ll want to ensure that they are properly equipped to give you the help you need in managing your trade team and providing high quality services to your customers.
3. Shift from manager to coach3
- Start introducing your second in command’s leadership position internally to allow everyone at your trade business to begin to recognize them as one of the company’s leaders.
- Start involving your chosen tradesperson in things that you’d normally do, such as inviting them to join you in client meetings or asking them to start leading team meetings with you. After they’ve built up their confidence, encourage them to get more involved in these meetings.
- After a while, step back, make sure that your new leader takes the lead in internal meetings and see how long you can go without speaking. Resist the temptation to jump in with solutions to problems. Instead, guide the tradesperson to discover how the issue can be resolved, until eventually you say nothing.
Training your second in command
Creating your second in command isn’t an overnight plan but you can speed up the process with organised training and make the handover as smooth as possible by following the steps below…
1. Develop your tradesman’s people skills
- Time management: Pass on tips to help them manage their time effectively in
the new role and provide strategies to help them.
- Communication skills are essential: Explain how you would expect them to communicate with the rest of the trade team and customers and what information they should be providing to their staff. Provide examples to help them.
- Managing Employees: Emphasise the importance of listening to the rest of the trade team, taking their feedback into account, and providing feedback to you regularly.
- Personality and work styles: Some employees are motivated by challenging assignments, others by praise. Help your number 2 understand what makes each team member tick so they can delegate more effectively.
- Set Goals for the new manager and set timelines for achieving each milestone. This will keep them motivated and in sync with your plans for the business.
2. Equip your tradesperson well
Be clear about their role and what things will still fall under your remit. Provide tips and advice on how you organised and managed aspects of the role including:
- Handling materials and logistics: Set a process for ordering materials to avoid delivering delays and disruptions.
- Managing Manpower: Ensure they know how to schedule work around holidays so people can complete jobs ahead of time or after the break.
- Management systems: Teach them your procedures for handling performance reviews, discipline issues and onboarding new employees.
- Suggest conflict resolution strategies that have worked for you in various situations and let them know that they can come to you for help if needed.
- Share methods and tactics you have used to gain your leadership and management skills.
- Health and Safety: Go over any health and safety elements of their role, including things like ensuring staff avoid accidents. Record this training in their HR record and both sign it.
3. How to best hand over the controls to your second in command
- Before you fully hand over the controls check that your chosen tradesperson can handle projects without you. Be sure that they set and stick to timelines, organise the workforce and workflow including materials and schedules in advance and have left room for the unexpected.
- Ensure your tradesman has plenty of experience leading meetings, handling projects and dealing with employees by the time you fully pass over the controls.
- Contact: Just like any new job it will take them time to settle into the role. Check in with your new manager at regular intervals to review progress, answer questions and provide guidance.
Questions about training your second in command
We’d all like to think that we’re irreplaceable, but that ethos doesn’t make for good business planning! So, to free up your time you’ll need a number two, your second in command.
Identify the right person, trust and vision, start involving them, develop their soft skills, equip them well and then handover to them.
You’ll need them to understand your vision; help you do the right things and you’ll need to define the role of the second in command as you want it.
You need someone who has the characteristics and ambition to be a leader. Someone who can lead and motivate your team. Ensure they know what they will be expected to do. Act as a mentor and coach through the process. Start introducing their leadership position to the team.
They need to be someone you can trust. Do build a relationship with them, talk to them. They’ll need to understand the company’s goals and how their role fits into the company’s overall objectives. They’ll need to be an advocate for your company values, and purpose.
Start by involving them in things that you’d typically do. After they’ve built up their confidence, encourage them to get more involved. Show them the ropes and give them time to settle into the role. Make yourself available for questions.
Develop their soft skills, such as time management and communication skills. Explain how you would expect them to communicate with their staff. Teach them how to manage personality and work styles. Set them goals and targets.
Equip them well. Clarify the role. Provide tips and advice on how to manage all aspects of the role, including, handling materials and logistics, managing manpower, management systems and suggest conflict resolution strategies. Share methods and tactics that you have used to gain your leadership skills. Cover health and safety.
The handover should be a slow process and your second in command should gave had plenty of experience handing issues, leading meetings, handling their own projects by the time you fully pass over the controls. But before you fully hand over make sure that they are doing all of those things with your support and gradually do less and less.
Start small things like letting your new leader take the lead in internal meetings and see how long you can go without speaking. Next, let them handle their first project without you, ensure they set and stick to timelines, organise workflow, materials and schedules in advance and have left room for the unexpected. Always resist the temptation to jump in with solutions to problems. Instead, guide the person to discover how the issue can be resolved.