According to the 2012 Chief Executive study by Booz & Company, of the world’s largest 2.5K public companies, 15% of CEOs were replaced last year. Of these, 72% of the CEO turnovers were planned successions. This suggests companies are working more thoughtfully than ever to ensure they put new leaders in place who’ll best serve the company for years to come.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Consider the senior leadership of your organization. Has your company made plans for the transition of these individuals? Succession planning is least effective when it’s developed on an as-needed basis (in fact, it really should be called “crisis management” in that case); rather, succession planning should be ingrained in your complete talent management plan, making it a part of the way you do business.

With every new hire you make, and as you onboard each employee, there are simple ways you can ensure the strength of your bench can withstand the inevitable changes that lie ahead:

Benchmark every position

Succession planning originates in the role definition process. It is there that stakeholders begin to truly understand the traits necessary for success in the role.

End Game Business uses a patented process to benchmark the position to ensure you hire the right player the first time.

Don’t just hire for now

If you hire for now, you may miss the candidate who has the opportunity to flourish in the future. Picture each candidate in future roles within the company.

Be candid throughout the interview process

As much as you are interviewing candidates to better understand if they will fit into the culture of your organization, those candidates are interviewing you. Listen for their desires to grow within your company.

Instill the ubiquitous question, “What’s next?”

Don’t wait for new employees to become acclimated to their jobs to intentionally communicate the company’s plans for growth. When you start having these conversations from day one, your “A-players” will subscribe to your vision and will see themselves in the company’s growth plan.

Don’t assume all employees desire the same things

Just because you see leadership potential in an individual doesn’t mean he or she shares in that desire for growth. Make sure those employees are comfortable in positions that are more constant, and continue to communicate with those individuals in case desires change as the company changes as well.

When you are operating with a sustainable succession plan, you will be able to look ahead and identify any gaps before they can affect the company. And, as you are identifying high potentials within the organization, you’ll be able to adjust each person’s development process to suit the critical needs of the company.

Special thanks to Adam Wong, Director of Network Development at TTI Success Insights for this week’s essay.

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