Philie Group Blog

Transfer Your Knowledge to the Next Generation
By Mike Philie

Hey, when are you going to teach me what you know? What else should I know going forward? While the next generation may not come out and say that, they are most likely thinking it. They want to be as successful as you were, maybe more successful. You know who else is thinking it? All the people that work in your business. And all your suppliers, and your customers too!

They have it too easy.

As one generation looks upon the next one, a common theme I hear is that they had it much easier than we did. The response to that is that the world is different today and perhaps it’s time to realize that we are in a different time. No, this new generation may not have had to work two jobs while in school. And speaking of school, they also didn’t have to walk two miles, uphill both ways in a foot of snow. Come on, it’s time to move on from that argument. And by the way, if the generation you are referring to is a son or daughter – you raised them, so that argument won’t stand.

Your team needs you to do the right thing.

You have an obligation to your business to prepare for a smooth transition of power. The next generation needs to know what you know. Employees who want to make a career with your business need to know that the next wave of leadership is prepared to run the business.

Most leaders, and soon-to-be leaders, have a certain area that they may be more competent in than others. Look upon that as the current state. To get to their future state, what else do they need to know? Make a list and attach it to a timeline.

To have a solid chance of success, they need to be comfortable in many aspects of the business. From sales and client acquisition and retention, to process workflow and the role that technology plays in successful businesses today. They need to know how things get made in your shop. While they may not have to know how to run a printing device, they need to know how things get made. They need to know how to assess and manage risk.

They should be at ease around the financial statements. They need to know how you make money. They need to understand the importance of the relationships with your suppliers and equipment partners that have worked with you over the years – sometimes bailing you out, and you sometimes helping them. And a top three in my book is that they should be able to communicate well and engage with people –especially your staff.

Next generation may be family – or not.

Whether the next group of leaders are family or not, they still need the tools to be successful in leading the business. You’ve had a great career and may not be ready to retire or hand over the reins yet, that’s fine. Make the time to transfer your knowledge and skills to the next generation.

This can be facilitated internally or by enrolling them into business or leadership development programs. Almost all metropolitan areas have some type of general leadership development programs. Whether it’s a general business and leadership program or one specific to your industry, the outside perspective of an external program creates a unique path for the younger member and can bring fresh ideas into the business.

Building a business can be both brutal and rewarding. Most business leaders want to make sure that their company will be in good hands once they decide to retire. There’s no time like the present to begin the process of that knowledge transfer. Please add any comments or questions below. Good luck!

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 assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions.


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