Take a moment and think about your key personnel: your CEO, CFO, COO, controller, executive director, general manager, payroll manager, etc. Imagine them and their roles in your company. Now, imagine they suddenly disappeared.
Could your company survive?
If the thought experiment above threw you into a panic, you are not alone. Many companies have only the vaguest idea of what they would do if one of their key personnel had to be suddenly replaced. Some companies have never even thought about it. The wisest companies, however, have not only thought about it, but they also have created a strategy plan for such events. That plan is known as a succession plan.
A succession plan helps businesses identify the key roles in their companies and the employees best suited to fill those roles in the future. It establishes a trajectory for each role, highlighting the skills needed for optimal performance in each role and how those skills can be acquired. It also helps identify top talent in an organization.
If your company does not have a succession plan, then you are opening up your business to unnecessary risk. (We all have heard nightmare stories of a company’s decline after the founding CEO retired.) Changes occur. Key people leave, fall ill, or have to be replaced, especially in today’s world when most people switch jobs and even careers more than a dozen times in adulthood.
Tim Sackett’s latest blog post, Your Leaders Secretly Hate Succession Planning, points out several reasons why succession planning can be challenging. If done right and without executive turf wars, succession planning can provide many benefits to an organization.
The question, then, is not, “Will a key person leave?” It is, “What will you do to prevent important people from leaving your company and leaving you without anyone to carry the ball forward?”
A detailed succession plan answers that question, and it answers it well, ensuring that any transitions made are made with your business’ best interests in mind and with an eye toward future profitability and success.