Succession planning faux pas

May 20, 2013
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 9:01 pm

Q : Two key executives unexpectedly announced their immediate departure for different reasons but we don’t have the appropriate talent in our pipeline to replace them. How can we prepare our juniors to take such an enormous leap?

A : You’re not alone. While the risk of sudden executive turnover is ever present, many companies still scramble in the wake of sudden vacancies because succession planning is often overlooked.

Leadership transitions are stressful for the entire organization. The goal at this time is to ensure a seamless transition. A transition consultant could assist in creating a new organizational vision and managing the transition process. This is an ideal time to determine the leadership skills needed for your organization’s future success.

Identify the crucial leadership characteristics and skills for each of these and other senior roles. Assign promising internal leaders to special projects to assess their capabilities and compatibility with the business’s future direction. Ask board members to remain beyond their terms for continuity during this challenging transition. Which internal high potentials could assume acting roles as you look for the ideal candidate?

What skill or experience gaps do your junior leaders have? What accelerated development, training programs or assignments would provide them with the necessary tools or expertise to get them ‘ready now’ for a potential advancement? Match them with leaders who can mentor them.

Annual executive planning sessions should include updates on the development of talent – their strengths, weaknesses and succession feasibility. A successful succession plan has more than one good person available for key roles.

A well-developed process increases the retention of superior employees. Continually challenging and rewarding talented employees reduces their need to seek opportunities elsewhere. They feel recognized, valued, invested in. The key is to match their career aspirations and the company’s future needs.

Originally printed in The Province, May 19, 2013.


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