The Importance of Succession Planning

Succession planning is an on-going dynamic process that identifies, assesses,and develops talent to insure that an organization can keep up with changes inthe workplace and marketplace.  Succession planning focuses on these keyareas:

Succession planning addresses the needs of the organization as seniormanagement gets older.  Many leaders of organizations spent countlesshours and years developing key components of the organization. Unfortunately, the organization frequently fails to fully develop individualsthat are prepared to move into leadership roles.  This is especially thecase within small companies, which often times struggle to keep the doors openafter a CEO or founder leaves the organization.  Family businesses arealways at risk, and very few of them make it into the next generation. Early planning removes that obstacle.

Succession planning prepares an organization for an unexpected, undesiredevent.  Who is prepared for the death or sudden illness of a key leaderin the organization?  Key members of the leadership team are not immune tothe sudden events that life sends their way.  They struggle with caraccidents,  diseases, relationship issues and by other events that take them awayfrom their roles within the organization.  These events cannot bepredicted, but it is entirely possible to have a plan that highlights who iscapable to take over if a key person is lost.

Succession planning ensures an organization has the right people in placetoday, as well as into the future. What more can be said?  While manyorganizations look at succession planning as a means to define who will takeover the role of CEO or President, the reality is that all organizations shoulduse this planning process to determine who has developed the capabilities andcompetencies to take over for a manager or supervisor within theorganization.  It helps organizations measure the strength of their pool oftalent and also understand where there are gaps in that talent.

Just for a minute, think about our military.  They have significant experiencewith succession planning as a tool to develop, maintain and even motivatetalent.  They prepare for the possibility of losing a key person byassessing and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each individual teammember and by defining their roles and responsibilities.  When someone islost, the leadership knows exactly who will take over.  They are alwaysprepared.

Succession planning is a means to support the currentculture.  Culture is so important to the stability and success of anorganization.  An organization cannot afford to leave positions open whenthey lose key leaders.  It is not uncommon for it too take several monthsto even a year to fill key roles within an organization.  Employees need tofeel comfortable and secure, but that can quickly change if a key position isnot filled. 

Succession planning ultimately helps define business strategy intobusiness and organizational goals. Companies regularly commit timeand talent to developing their yearly strategic plans.  Unfortunately,these plans are too often focused on how the company can meet its financialgoals through more production of products of services.  Rarely do theseplans take a look at how people impact the strategic goals of the company. Succession planning is an important part of the overall plan because it helps todefine the types of high level skills that will be needed by theorganization.  It is also clearly indicates how losing a key person willimpact the financial picture of a company.  You figure it out...how muchdoes it cost your company when a key person leaves?  What does it cost toadvertise for the position, to hire an executive search company to do the work,and to interview possible candidates?  What does it cost your business interms of a drop in performance while the position remains open?  Are thereother hidden costs? 

Are you ready to start a succession planning process inyour business?  If the answer is yes, then you need to contactus today.