Why You Should Care About Succession Planning

If you are a CEO or CFO you know one of the main differentiators between your business and your competition is your current internal talent pool. If you are a business owner let’s face it, as much as you love your business, you really don’t want to work forever.

Both of these brief scenarios show why you should care about succession planning for your company. More reason’s include talent shortages within some key skills and/or industries. You also just might want to plan for the potential that if your one star employee, who’s sole job is to focus on a key aspect of your business leaves, you have someone to step into the role and fill the gap…quickly.

Both the talent shortage and brain-drain scenarios have the wheels turning in your head now. You are starting to think about the key employees on your team (stars or not) that are the only one that know how to do their role. You know if you don’t have at least a short term plan in place, your business will take a hit one way or another. You’ll either have customer’s that become very mad at you or your company won’t make the quarterly numbers. Especially if your key employee is your only sales representative.

What to do now – It’s important that you don’t panic but take a systematic look at each of the departments in your organization. How many people are in each group? Who are the star’s? Start planning to train others to take over their role should they leave. Now, do this for every department and every key employee. You don’t have to get fancy just use an Excel spreadsheet if necessary. The main thing is that you capture the department and key employee and which employees you plan to provide additional development opportunities to.

If you are a business owner – Marshall Goldsmith in one of his many HBR Blogs says to decide who your successor is going to be and groom them sooner than later. You don’t have to officially announce the succession until you are ready to start the official transition. This way you don’t have to worry about being a “lame duck.” If the successor is a family member then most people will easily accept the change once the official transition notice is announced, granted they have seen the person in action over a period of time.

The bottom line is that regardless of which role you are in, CEO/CFO or Business owner, focus on developing people. When you focus on developing people, a surprising thing happens, they will be prepared to step up when another leader steps out.