Succession planning is a team sport

Did you know that 60 percent of businesses lack a proper succession plan? Sadly, many organizations delay this critical task until it’s too late, leaving them in a state of panic when a leader becomes seriously ill or unexpectedly passes away. However, succession planning doesn’t have to be daunting, and it shouldn’t be done alone. It’s a team sport. Here is a game plan for succession planning to help companies prepare for unforeseen circumstances and achieve a seamless leadership transition.

Assemble your dream team. Succession planning is critical for any long-term strategy. It’s a key component of your business continuity, safeguarding operations, culture and values. A smart succession plan requires a successful team of experts from across your organization, as well as internal and external clients, to explore current and future needs for leadership transitions.

Assess the current state. Before setting your future game plan, identify key positions, evaluate your leadership team’s strengths and weaknesses, and forecast future opportunities. Take a deep dive into your company’s playbook to understand what it needs to thrive. A team of HR, Ops and Marketing can help scout for the right successors who can accelerate their strengths and take the role to the next level.

Interview key internal and external stakeholders. Identify the skills, competencies, personalities and values that your key people expect from the next successor. Be sure to engage the voice of your clients in this planning process. Consider both internal and external client perspectives so that you can understand their expectations and improve their experience with your organization.

Identifying potential successors. To identify and train potential successors, create a robust selection process that includes competency assessments, interviews, background checks and references. Conduct the selection process fairly, with clearly defined criteria for selection. Once the best candidate is selected, a formal succession plan should be put in place, outlining the specific steps for developing the successor.

Crafting and communicating a winning succession plan. Developing a strong succession plan is not just about filling a position; it’s about scouting and training the next generation of leaders. To achieve this, it’s important to consider the organization’s goals and timeline, and the individual’s skills and qualifications. It’s a best practice to identify and coach multiple potential candidates for future openings. Get your team’s insights to draft and communicate a clear succession plan that includes specific training and performance expectations.

Assess and adapt. Guide and support each potential successor by assigning them to a mentor. Keep your succession plan on track by evaluating and adjusting as needed. Touch base with each candidate, their mentor and the team every six months and update them on their progress. It’s normal for some players to outperform others, so don’t be afraid to adjust as needed. Also, be sure to ask for feedback from clients on their overall experience working with these successors — the voice of the client is incredibly powerful in each candidate’s development. With these insights, you’ll have everything you need to make informed decisions for the future of your organization.

As with any great sports team, succession planning requires ongoing evaluation and adjustments to achieve long-term success. Don’t wait until the final buzzer to start preparing for the future — start developing your organization’s succession game plan today. ●

Judy Bodenhamer is Founder & Managing Director of Client Experience Group 

Judy Bodenhamer

Founder & Managing Director 


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