Corporate crises come in many different shapes and sizes. One of the most volatile to the overall health and profitability of a company occurs when a key member of upper management leaves. It’s not something a company can afford to wait to happen.
At all levels of your organization, turnover in key positions could put you in a tough spot.
>> Senior leaders: The sudden departure of a key executive isn’t uncommon. Are you grooming future leaders? Do you know your bench strength? Can your mid-level managers present key financial and operational performance data to your CEO or board of directors on demand? Your leaders at all levels, not just those at the top, should be able to present information and support recommendations.
>> Critical roles: These roles vary by company and are as unique as you are. For example, the role of pharmacy technician tops Monster.com’s list of “Top 10 In-demand Health-care Occupations,” with overall job growth projected at 27 percent.
With that kind of competition for top talent, what would happen if your best techs walked out the door? How are you building a pipeline of talent today to feed the critical roles in your organization?
>> Top performers: Imagine that your company just closed a large multi-year deal with built-in deadline guarantees. If your production director leaves the company, could you fulfill the contract terms? Who’s waiting in the wings, ready to demonstrate their skills on a whole new level? Someone within the same department or across the company could possibly step in, but you would need comprehensive talent profiles to know.
>> High-potentials: Ambitious, talented less experienced workers are your future top performers and leaders. Do you know who these people are? Are you investing in their futures with development and exposure to all areas of your business?
Not Everybody’s Ready
Not all companies even care about succession. According to research from Bersin by Deloitte, more than half of the respondents to a recent survey said their companies implement succession management processes at only the most senior executive levels.
Only 12 percent of respondents said their companies’ succession management programs are integrated with talent management programs such as performance management and employee development.
And fewer than 40 percent said their companies include mid-level managers and skilled professionals in succession planning initiatives; only 11 percent included first-line supervisors.
A Winning Combination
How can companies develop a winning crisis management policy when it comes to succession?
First, implement a succession systems that is easy to use. It should be a non-bureaucratic, uncomplicated process — with a unified approach to ensure consistency and maintain objectivity across business units, organizational levels and geographic areas.
Second, make sure your company is developmentally oriented, rather than simply replacement oriented. In that manner, the system can become a proactive vehicle for managers and executives to reflect on the progress of their talent and the opportunities they need for genuine development. Make sure you actively involve your very top players, because senior executives view effective succession management as a critical strategic tool for attracting and retaining talent.
Third, try to increase your efficiency at spotting gaps in talent and identifying important “linchpin” positions that are critical to your organization’s overall success. Succession planning monitors the succession process, enabling forward-thinking companies to make sure that the right people are moving into the right jobs at the right time — and that gaps are being spotted early on.
Finally, build corporate succession around reinvention. Continually refine and adjust your systems as you receive feedback, monitor developments in technology, and learn from other leading organizations. Old systems may have been characterized by confidentiality and secrecy, and few participants might have known where they actually stood in terms of their potential for career opportunities. But today’s systems encourage involvement by individuals who are participants and candidates.