Philie Group Blog

Lead The Next Generation
By Mike Philie

It’s fair to say that the owners, CEOs, and senior team members at many printing companies are getting closer to retirement. To ensure the continued sustainability of the business, it’s important to invest the time, energy, and resources necessary to train the next generation. The next generation includes your daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, and the non-family up-and-comers that always seem to stand out from the rest of the pack. You owe it to the business, and to them, to make sure that they are ready to take over when that time comes.


One of the responsibilities of the board of directors at large corporations is to make sure that there is a succession plan in place for top leadership. It shouldn’t be any different in your organization.


Today is a perfect time to have your “next in command” in a training mode. They can observe, and participate in the decisions affecting the business during these transformational times. They can learn from the insight and the decision making process used to tackle the unprecedented issues facing the industry today.


As you look around your business, the next generation may currently be in an entry-level, or mid-level supervisory role within the organization. You might find them in various production, client support, data, or sales departments. They may even be making deliveries. It’s not that important where they are today, as opposed to what their runway looks like in the future. One of my observations is that the younger generation may not see a future for them in the business if a clear runway is not established. 


There is nothing like providing hands-on experience within the various departments in your organization. It all begins with your commitment. Determine a reasonable scope and timeline that fits within the structure of your business to create your program.


These future leaders don’t need to become the very best sales or customer service rep, or digital press or bindery operator, that’s not the point. The goal is exposure and understanding. They should have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it’s like working in as many departments as possible. It’s important for them to understand the current workflow, the equipment and technology and the people. In doing this, they will ultimately have a much better understanding of what is working well, where the obstacles are, and how things could be improved.


Begin to structure the one-on-one meetings you have with these future leaders. Create a schedule with an agenda where you can begin sharing your insights and decision making process for things that occurred since the last meeting.


This is their opportunity to learn so it should include research and homework on their part. They should come to each meeting having completed an assignment that was independent of what their day-to-day job entails. This is how they will learn. Don’t be discouraged or upset when they don’t always agree with you, that’s actually OK and healthy.


This is an opportunity to solidify the future leadership of your business, provide opportunities for the next generation, and to help ensure the sustainability of your business. If you have concerns as to how this could work for your business, or how to get started, please let me know and I’d be happy to answer any questions that you have.


If you’ve done something like this in your business or if you’ve participated in such a program, I’d appreciate your comments as to how it worked for you. What did you like about it, and what you would do different in the future?


Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at, LinkedIn or email at


The blog originally published in Printing Impressions


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