The importance of succession planning


Authored by RSM US LLP

One of the biggest challenges for many organizations is how to prepare for the next generation of management. We often visit organizations that know they, “should,” have a succession plan but don’t know how to start. In a survey, the National Association of Corporate Directors found that two-thirds of American public and private companies had no succession plan in place.

In order to protect our organization and legacy we need to always be working towards replacing ourselves. There is often a concern that if people are selected and acknowledged that this may discourage other employees. By not identifying these individuals you may miss out on a rising star or the selected person may not develop as expected. Just like having a business continuity plan and redundancy for our IT areas and key systems, we need to be sure we are doing the same for our leadership.

Some of the keys to a successful succession program include:

  • Identifying key positions that need succession plans (not just for chief officer's)
  • Creating a formal succession plan and measurement criteria
  • Forming a leadership program, if appropriate in your organization
  • Identifying potential employees to fill positions
  • Providing development and training to meet the increased responsibilities
  • Formalizing check-ins, reviews and communication
  • Engaging those selected, by numerous members of the management team

There are some immediate benefits to succession planning as well, it helps retain high performers.  Often these high performers are recruited by another company, and even though they may not want to leave the organization, they typically feel there isn’t a place for them or that they aren’t progressing quickly enough.  It provides a voice and increased, “ownership,” throughout the organization.  It increases collaboration across the organization, departments and employees.  It also allows the organization to easily accept change when it becomes necessary.

Although we don’t know the future, creating a plan will protect your organization. Succession is best when the plan is developed early, mentorship/training takes place and is part of the organization’s culture. If you are ready to take the right steps towards creating a succession plan, contact us today.