Winter is Coming: Are you Planning for Succession?

By Candido Segarra, CEO of Foresight | October 17, 2017
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winter is coming


A month and a half after HBO's Game of Thrones season 7 finale, it's still a good time to plan for the coming winter. The season, of sorts, I'm referring to; however, has less to do with White Walkers and more to do with workplace trends and leadership continuity. 

Planning for succession is not something most leaders typically think about until they are ready to retire. Troublesome turnaround rates can also be mitigated by implementing a proper succesion plan, unlike the due course of the Lannister line. And while the consequences of not having a plan in place can have a lasting effect on your business (or The Seven Kingdoms for that matter), the process of creating one is nothing to lose your head over.

The Old and The New

According to the findings from the Pew Research Center, 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. With them goes decades of knowledge and workplace experience.

The generation that will be replacing the retiring baby boomers is the largest one in history, the Millennials (or Generation Y)—there are approximately 92 million in the workplace today. With the accelerating retirement rate of Boomers (or Gen X), and a large number of younger workers coming into the business world; there is a fierce, talent-tight competition to fill up leadership positions. 

succession planning

Typically, a minimum of two to four years of training, coaching, shadowing, and mentoring are required to achieve the goal of proper succession planning. The sooner you start, the better your organization will be in the long run.

The following 7 basic steps are necessary to begin the succession planning process:

1. Define retirement policies.

If you haven't already done so, your organization's official retirement policies will need to, first, be adopted and implemented by the organization. This step will eliminate many questions down the road. Be sure to include details such as retirement age, and outline the processes to apply for retirement as well as any benefits based on years of service.

2. Develop a retirement matrix.

The easiest way to determine retirement time lines in your company is to make a list of key employees at present. This should include the names of all the mission-critical management team members, and their ages, in order to calculate the amount of time before retirement (age 65).

leadership continuity3. Identify key missions.

Key missions are vital functions of the company. Each mission contains one or more critical positions throughout your business that will need to be filled in the event of a retirement. These vacancies should be conisidered as pipelines for developing individuals within an organization or when seeking new talent.

4. Determine skills and Qualifications.

As a direct follow-on from the previous step. All skills and qualifications required for the successful continuation of business practices need to be identified for each current position. Other things to consider are ideal attributes and characteristics preferred for to each mission-critical and leadership positions.

5. Identify internal candidates.

Aside from recognizing ideal internal candidates, define what managerial and technical training your "hopefuls" will need to succeed in their new environment. This is also the time to assess other tools, experience, and opportunities for empowerment. You may also want to conduct personality profiles to make sure they will be a sure-fit within the position they will be occupying.

6. Recruit from the outside.

If you don't have the inside talent to occupy your current positions, look elsewhere. Recruit talent by using recruitment ads, listing the attributes, characteristics, skills, and experience each position requires as defined in earlier steps. Consider describing the working environment in a Millennial-friendly way.

7. Plan to retain Millennials.

Because of shifts in recent workforce trends, be sure to include attractive points such as: engagement, training, coaching and mentoring programs; loyalty programs; career opportunities; company-sponsored social and community involvement opportunities; networking; and wellness programs.

In closing, the term succession planning denotes a passive activity which has to do with the replacement of old managers. The reality is that every company, whether their management team will retire in two or 10 years, needs to establish a proactive process to identify internal talent, train, and develop them. For the long-term success of your organization, be sure to plan for its future.

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Topics: Leadership, Succession Planning, Management Development

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