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Succession Planning | Passing The Torch

Many of our clients are facing a serious talent crisis. One of our clients could lose all their senior leaders in the next five years. What happens when your senior leaders retire and there is no one qualified to run the organization?

A recent global SHRM survey on succession planning showed only 50% of organizations have adequate bench strength to assume critical leadership roles. For family owned businesses succession is the most critical and difficult issue they face. The consequences are far more serious.

The complicated family member dynamics and the emotional relationships family members feel make this task similar to walking into a minefield.

Succession planning is needed to keep an organization strong and prepared for the future. A successful succession planning strategy identifies which of today’s employees will become tomorrow’s leaders within the organization. Succession planning is needed because people retire, move on to other places of employment, terminated or pass away.

Successful succession planning strategies identify talented employees suited to fill positions of managers and other organization leaders. Strategies include educating and preparing employees for future promotions. This makes the transition of one manager leaving and a new one filling their place a smooth one.

Why Succession Planning is needed

  • Full-time employee shifts to part-time

  • Volunteers leave organization

  • Termination

  • Retirement

  • Serious illness

  • Death

Succession Planning Process

Step 1: Setting Purpose and Goals

The owner or top leader of organization sets the purpose and goals for succession planning. Why is the strategy being put into place and how?

Step 2: Putting Together an Oversight Committee

The committee is in charge of defining the purpose and goals of the succession strategy. They are also in charge of overseeing the strategy and working out any issues that occur during the process. The committee follows the outline set by the owner or top leader of the organization.

Step 3: Defining Succession Policy

The oversight committee then creates the succession policy. The committee should reference employee assessments, security, development, communications, and succession nominations and create the policy around these issues.

Step 4: Defining Succession Guidelines

Succession guidelines include which managerial positions will need to be filled in the future, the type of employees that should be nominated for succession and why (what skills/qualifications do they need), and how employees will be rated. Ratings include the potential an employee has for being nominated.

Step 5: Defining the Assessment and Conducting It

We use a 23 factor assessment that measures each individual’s strengths, motivations and behaviors. The assessment determines which employees are nominated and how they rate against one another. It also involves deciding which positions the nominees will fill. Current managers should be consulted during the assessment process as well as employee reviews.

Step 6: Gathering and Organizing Data

All data about the nominated employees including performance reviews, personnel records, and anything else should be organized into a spreadsheet or graph. The spreadsheet should show what the employee will bring to the position as well as any risks. A profile of the employee and position should be included.

Step 7: Data Reviews

The committee or those in charge of promotions need to review the organized data. The review committee considers each nominee and all positions. The committee then creates a written review to be passed to the owner or leader of the organization. The review is reviewed once again by the owner or leader before final decisions are made.

Step 8: Development Plans

Once the final decision has been made and individual nominees are chosen to fill specific positions in the future, development plans are put into place. Development plans include preparing individuals for their future promotions. This includes education and preparation to ensure the individual is prepared to take over their new position.

Step 9: Evaluate Effectiveness of Succession Strategy

The succession strategy must undergo its own review. How effective was it? What needs changing, updating or removed from the strategy? Feedback is given by the committee, managers, and owner and/or top leaders of the organization. All aspects of the strategy are considered and reviewed and the appropriate changes made.

All those involved in the succession planning strategy must know and understand the process. Small to mid-sized organizations that develop and use succession strategies save time and money and prevent disruption within the organization in the future.

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