Succession Planning: Your Company's Future Depends on It

Apr 17 07:18 2008 Linda Finkle - Incedo Group Print This Article

Succession planning is something every leader and organization talks about. On some level, every business owner knows that they need to have a succession process in place, yet very little attention is actually paid to developing a strong plan and implementing it. With an entire generation of Baby Boomer leaders looking towards their retirement, succession planning is becoming increasingly important to today's business world.

You've put your blood,Guest Posting sweat and tears into building your company. It's grown into something that you're proud of ' something that will leave your mark on the world and bring you the retirement you've always wished for. In fact, it's grown past the point where you cannot expect to handle everything on your own. What can you delegate? And to whom? Or perhaps you're thinking that you'd like to start moving into that planned retirement of your dreams. But how will the business run without you at the helm? With an entire generation of Baby Boomer leaders looking towards their retirement futures, these questions are being asked frequently. In fact, succession planning is becoming an increasingly important aspect of today's business landscape.

The key to understanding succession planning is that it's simply the act of having a systematic process in place. A process where business owners and corporate leaders identify, assess and cultivate their key people to ensure they are ready to take on strategic roles within the company.

Succession planning is something every leader and organization talks about. On some level, every business owner knows that they need to have a succession process in place, yet very little attention is actually paid to developing a strong plan and implementing it. Even when there is some semblance of a plan, often it does not address challenges and issues that arise as impediments to a smooth transition.

Consider the following scenarios:

SCENARIO 1

POTENTIAL PROBLEM: Multiple partners or owners don't agree on who should take over the business, in what time frame and in which roles.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Define what skills, experience and attributes are needed for a position and then to compare those to any heir apparent candidates.

SCENARIO 2

POTENTIAL PROBLEM: Planning has been tardy and when the owner or executive is ready to hand things over, the heir apparent doesn't have the requisite skills or experience.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Short of something like a death or debilitating disease, succession planning should begin years in advance and those who are to be put in charge need a formal training and development program designed and implemented.

CONSIDERATIONS: Decide if you are going to have them buy in, or you are simply handing them the keys to the kingdom. All decisions need to be made well in advance and shared with those who are going to be involved.

SCENARIO 3

POTENTIAL PROBLEM: The heir apparent simply isn't ready. Not because they weren't given time or attention but simply because they either don't have what you need right now (and possibly never will).

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: First you have to ask yourself how you will handle this should it arise. Second, you should be creating markers (metrics) along the way so this doesn't happen ' you should know at least a year out if the person you have chosen is going to make it or not.

CONSIDERATIONS: This scenario can be avoided if there are multiple people who may be possibilities; groom them both. At some point one is likely to become the front runner. Just make sure you provide each with the necessary training, development, mentoring and guidance so that you are giving each a fair and equal chance. If you have multiple people you are grooming, let them know this. It isn't fair for one person to believe they have 'the job' and not be aware that there is competition. If at any point it is obvious that one candidate isn't going to make it, then you need to be fair and let them know they are no longer in the running. You may also need to be prepared for them to make the decision to leave your company.

It's very important that you understand that you cannot run the business until the day you leave. Your leader(s)-in-waiting need to be given the opportunity to make decisions try new ideas and make mistakes under your tutelage. This provides you with the opportunity to help them learn, understand how they think and to gain trust in their ability. Handing over the reins is best managed in a gradual process. This way the company staff will have had the time it takes to begin to view the incumbent as the new leader.

Putting a succession process in place is crucial to the success of any company. The key people you've identified in your plan will eventually be accountable for making certain that your company is capable of overcoming challenges and obstacles in the future.

Unfortunately, succession planning tends to be one of those initiatives that many business owners and leaders can't seem to find the time to start until it's too late. A strong word of caution here: if you don't address succession planning now your organization may end up facing the burden in the middle of a crisis.

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About Article Author

Linda Finkle - Incedo Group
Linda Finkle - Incedo Group

Linda Finkle is a leading expert on organizational communication strategies and human potential development. As CEO of her executive coaching firm, INCEDO GROUP, Linda has helped countless leaders build internal communication and conflict resolution strategies. She brings about changes in attitude and leadership style that yield dramatic results. Company profitability is an inevitable side effect. Learn more at => http://www.IncedoGroup.com

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