Corporate Succession Planning: An Ounce Of Prevention

Ignore it and it will go away!

That’s a bad strategy in life, and an even worse one in corporate management.  Yet that is something that is all too common when it comes to succession planning.

Truth be told, it’s just not something that many companies put on the front burner until it is too late.

This phenomenon is addressed in the 2014 Report on Senior Executive Succession Planning and Talent Development.  The report was compiled from surveys and research done by the Institute of Executive Development and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University in the fall of 2013.

Executives and directors at 20 companies were asked about their own corporate succession planning.  The surveys yielded some pretty interesting, yet disturbing results.

Here’s what they came up with:

1. Companies do not know who is next in line to fill senior executive positions

2. Companies do not have an actionable process in place to select senior executives

3. Companies plan for succession to “reduce risk” rather than to “find the best successors”

4. Roles are not defined and often are not followed

5. Succession plans are not connected with coaching and internal talent development programs.

The results were even more surprising because anyone in any organization who takes a moment to think about this topic, understands importance of knowing who takes over.

It’s not going to run itself, right?

But even with that obvious fact hanging out there, they did not give it the emphasis it deserved.

But here is the good news.

If the results do sound familiar, fear not, it’s not too late.  The report also came back with some recommended strategies and actions that could be implemented right away.

They recommended that organizations should immediately begin implementing the following strategies:

1. Map the future operating and leadership skills required of each executive position and benchmark executives against these skills

2. Cast a wide net

3. Be comprehensive and continuous

4. Assign ownership and roles

5. Connect CEO and senior executive succession plans with coaching and internal talent development

6. Assign coaches and mentors

7. Get strategic assistance when necessary.

The lesson to be learned, as the old adage goes, is that an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.  Succession planning done in advance goes a long way towards not only peace of mind for the current owners, but for all the other stakeholders involved, now and in the future.

If your “planning scale” is not in balance between prevention and cure right now, it’s time to reach out to a qualified attorney for advice.  They will complete a thorough review of your current succession plan, prepare the necessary recommendations and even help you to implement the recommended plan in a timely manner.