Does your organization have a succession program in place? Too many organizations and small businesses default to the practice of reactionary assignment of a successor amid a now-glaringly-vacant position, or embark on a rushed external hire that often ends up as a high cost disappointment from a ”hiring misfire.” The consequences are not only expensive but are also a missed opportunity due to lack of focus and the inability to support fast growth.
And this is the challenge for recruiters: urgent hires, and the inability to explain the succession process (i.e. growth potential) to candidates, as well as to current employees who are looking to build their career. Recruiters can have an important role in helping leadership address the issue of succession readiness.
A succession strategy is about having an identified plan to fill key positions within your organization. A succession program is the implemented process of identifying, developing, and transitioning potential successors for the company’s present and future key roles, aligned with the talent and ambition of its current employees and talent network.
A common error that we see in succession planning is to target only the key executive roles (CEO, COO, CFO). This is a significant risk unless you are a micro business. For example, if you are in the construction or transportation industry, a logistics manager may be critical for the success of your business. Having a vacancy in this position could quickly result in a decrease in service and an increase in customer complaints, and possibly a decrease in customer retention.
This is why critical positions across the business need to be identified and replacement processes planned.
In our work with companies we hear some common arguments and justifications. We repeatedly see that the president or key executive doesn’t believe there is an immediate need for a succession plan. Their stated arguments are, “we’re too small,” “we’re too new,” “we already have good people in place,” or “I’m not going anywhere soon!”
In an unlikely static environment where no one leaves, no one gets ill (including the owner, president, or senior managers), growth isn’t that important, and performance is exceptional — these arguments hold true. But, we don’t live in a static business environment. People do leave, they do get sick, the executives need to focus on growing the business verses operating it, the employees are not all good performers, and some roles are hard to fill!
There is also a tendency to hold on to marginal performers because there is no clear plan on how to replace them. The impact: the business suffers, the executives suffer, employee morale and productivity decreases, the customers become less than satisfied with their service, and new candidates are not attracted to your company.
When organizations do not have a succession program in place, consequences include: keep reading…