Complete the following exercise. Consider the first person that comes to mind when you read the next sentence: Who is the most vital player in your organization? Do you have her/him in mind? Now imagine you just received a phone call telling you this most vital player was gone without notice. Try to imagine the first day in your company knowing you are without him or her. What tasks would you need to do immediately to safeguard your business? How would the company respond mentally/emotionally? What would be your greatest future concern?
If the answers to those questions are already laid out, consider yourself well on your way to being succession ready. True succession readiness is a living, changing, evolving, organizational culture in which leadership development, critical functions and roles, succession, etc. are shared and talked about openly and regularly at all levels of the organization.
Succession planning is often taken for granted. We push away or avoid succession planning because:
- it is uncomfortable to think about.
- we are sure we can just “make it through anything” as a company; we always have and always will.
- the future vision for our company is obvious to everyone and clearly articulated
- we are too small a company… or too large a company
- because … because… because…
Both expected and unexpected departures result in challenging situations for any company. With proper planning, you avoid substantial losses and damage to your organizational well-being during a transition in leadership, and you build an employee development machine that allows you to find and grow talented people. A comprehensive succession plan means your company will thrive with you and well beyond. Tip: Leadership development programs are NOT succession plans – however a comprehensive succession plan includes a leadership development program.
Consider the following levels of readiness and the key indicators associated:
You are succession ready when:
- You have a concrete plan in place and your organization talks about it openly
- You are aware of your critical organizational roles and functions
- You make opportunities for people to gain experience and share responsibility
- You have an existing crisis response plan including a variety of resources: mental health, emergency financial support, employee engagement, public relations, and internal communication.
- You know exactly who to turn to in the event of a major loss on your team.
You are not succession ready if:
- You do not regularly and openly discuss leadership roles and potential successors.
- You do not have a response plan on file
- You do not have active development models in place
- You are dependent on one or more individuals in your organization for survival
If you are not succession ready I encourage you to get started today. Open the conversation with your leadership team, begin asking the important “what if” questions, and contact us for a free consultation call from a member of our team to help you begin building a comprehensive succession plan.
To read more on succession planning, check out our two recent blog posts covering the components of a succession plan and how organizational culture impacts the plan’s success. We also have a library article on the board’s critical role in succession planning for the CEO.