Succession Planning

The Rio Summer Olympics will be here soon, bringing together the world’s greatest athletes for seventeen days of sports competition in a wide range of events. One of the most exciting events is the Men’s 4×100 meter relay. No other venue compares with its explosive start and furious pace as each runner on the team gives his all to win. Capable runners are required for a gold medal team, but even the best of runners will not win if there are problems in passing the baton during the race.

Businesses face a similar challenge in their quest for the “gold.” Management assembles a high performing team which works together to achieve the business goals and objectives, but what happens when a top executive leaves for another position? What happens when health issues hit key managers or your CEO? Who will pick up the baton and carry the business onward? That’s where Succession Planning pays off!

Succession Planning is a component of good HR planning and management. It acknowledges that employees won’t be with your company indefinitely and provides a process to smoothly deal with the changes as they leave. Everyone recognizes the necessity for Succession Planning, but oftentimes business management allows the day-to-day priorities to push Succession Planning to “tomorrow”… and somehow never really gets around to facing the matter seriously until events demand a decision. How do you force action on this vital planning issue before it becomes an emergency?

First, make long-term viability your company’s top value—integral to your strategic planning, priorities and investments. Goals change as they are accomplished but values are the bedrock foundation on which your company exists. Long-term viability requires confident leadership with the vision and decisiveness to deal with future opportunities, changes and challenges.

Second, implement an employee program that identifies and fosters the next generation of leaders from within your ranks. Ask your current managers to name two of their subordinates who are best suited to be their replacement, then mentor, train and stretch those employees so they are capable of making that transition when the need arises. Allow these candidates to “shadow” the leaders, attending board meetings and even participating in decision making. This allows current management to see how they interact and deal with problems and decisions. While the process of developing leaders from within your organization takes time and effort, these future management candidates often prove to be more successful than external hires since they know the culture, customers and corporate knowledge of the organization.

Third, don’t stop planning at the CEO or key manager levels. While these positions are critical to your company, what happens when the succession goes as planned for those senior levels? Someone will have to step up to fill the vacancies created as your internal candidates step into the higher positions.
Finally, after any portion of your Succession Planning is implemented, wait a short while and then evaluate the results of the succession event. What went well? What problems arose? Are there lessons learned that need to be applied now to make the next succession event happen smoother? By making these kinds of assessments, your Succession Planning will improve, increasing your company’s stability while in transition.

At BGC, we have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients, offering help as they deal with difficult management decisions and planning issues as well as their accounting needs. Contact us to learn more about the ways we can be a great partner to your company. In the 4×100 meter relay race, it’s a capable team working together and successfully passing the baton that wins the gold medal. Let us show you how we can be a valuable part of your team, helping you win the “gold!”

Bradshaw, Gordon & Clinkscales, LLC